We are rivals for the affection and attention of the same woman. That is where our commonality ends. I am not a “cat person.” My feline aversion has everything to do with allergy and very little with to do with animosity. I think Misty, the cat, somehow knows this and is using it to her own advantage.
It all started a few years ago when I visited Jeanne on Dutch Island for the first time. I knew I had an allergy to cats and I knew she had a cat in her house. It is her daughter’s pet. I figured that I would just avoid contact with the cat and all would be fine. Besides, Jeanne is a doctor and would be able to head off any ill effects if they popped up. What could possibly go wrong?
During the second day of the trip, I started sneezing and feeling a little itchy. But I was cool about it. The crush I had on this woman all those years ago was manifesting itself into something more significant, and I was trying to avoid complaints or whines about the cat. That evening we were in her kitchen preparing dinner. I was sitting at the counter while she was prepping something on the granite surface near the sink with her back to me. The cat was surreptitiously perched on the stool next to me, presenting herself to be petted and looking annoyed that I had not already commenced that activity. As the conversation progressed, Jeanne turned around. The look on her face changed immediately when she glanced at me. “OH, DEAR GOD!” The shocked look and sudden exclamation were not exactly what I was going for in the “wooing my dear friend” plan. In the few moments that it took for Jeanne to finish the task in front of her and then turn back to me, my face had swollen to the point where my left eye was almost completely shut.
What followed was a bit of a blur. A search for Benadryl, checking drawers for allergy remedies, mutterings of “I am a doctor, and I have nothing to help you in the house.” I was getting a little loopy. We hopped in a car and went to the store for allergy meds. It was about 10 p.m. on a Saturday evening as we pulled into the Walmart parking lot. The sideshow that can happen at a Walmart anywhere in the U.S. was in full swing in Savannah. I realized that my swollen face was a part of the act.
Now, when I prep for a visit to Savannah, I start popping Claritin D like M&Ms for a week before I go. An uneasy truce between Misty and I exists, but not without the occasional reminder that while I am on Dutch Island visiting with Jeanne, I am in Misty’s world. I avoid contact with her because not doing so will lead to hives on my forearms, watery eyes and an increase in the frequency of sneezing fits.
When I arrive, you can almost sense that the cat is looking at me and thinking “Back for more, little man?”. She still presents herself to be petted. I always ignore her. She sometimes pays me back for the slight by nipping at me. While I am there, Jeanne will close the cat out of the bedrooms. Those rooms are Misty’s favorite place to sleep at night after napping all day. My nemesis does not appreciate the appropriation of sleeping spots by the interloper from Virginia.
If I am up early in the morning to walk Bella, Jeanne’s Vizsla, Misty will be waiting for me when I am done with the dog. Mewing like she has not been fed in days she will follow me around, rubbing against my legs until I make my way to the kitchen to feed her. If I am wearing shorts in warm weather, I am dancing to get out of the way of the feline contact. Once her dish is full, she will harass me for treats.
She has stepped up her campaign to get me out of the house and ensure she has access to her favorite sleeping haunts. She will walk across the keyboard on my laptop or just lay upon it staring at me as random letters rush across the screen. She seems to be almost taunting me to pick her up and move her off. She will rub all over my computer bag, lay on my coat. At Christmas, she seemed to be ridiculing me by using a book on cat training as a pillow. It was a gift for Jeanne.
While sitting with Jeanne watching TV, Misty has been known to walk across the back of the sofa and start forcefully rubbing her head on the back and top of my head. I do so love hives on my scalp!
I have been told that the allergy may resolve itself over time with more exposure to the cat. I think, if Misty had a vote, I would have been dispatched from my intrusions into her world long before any allergy was overcome.
On the last two trips, she has violated our truce by urinating first near and then on my shoes after I came back from walking the dog. A small rivulet creeping away from the stain on top of the slip-on and running along the grout in the front hall tile. Nearby, she sat on the stairs, cleaning her fur and occasionally glancing in my direction. I think she is throwing down the gauntlet. I have challenged Misty to a final battle in the marsh along the Herb River behind Jeanne’s house. It is still in doubt which one of us would emerge victorious after such a clash.
For now, I will start the Claritin D a week before heading to Savannah. I will continue to avoid direct contact with Misty, as far as I am able. Shoes or anything else I bring along with me will not be left out to be insulted by my catty antagonist. I can only wonder what Misty has in store for me on my next trip south. I know she is waiting for me.