Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Real Talk With Rachel: Cat's Not Outta the House

by Rachel Kurzius

Dear Rachel,

I am the father of two great kids who have now grown into responsible and caring adults. I was very proud when my daughter bought her first piece of real estate. I was much less excited when she got a kitten to go with it. I have asthma and am very allergic to cats.

I feel like my daughter is telling me I am unwelcome in her home, as I have to bring my inhaler and my allergy medication with me. Even when heavily medicated, I am still sneezing and congested for days.

I want my daughter to get rid of the cat but my wife says I’m making too big a deal out of it all. What do you think?

The Whole Cat and Caboodle

Dear The Whole Cat and Caboodle,

It must be frustrating to feel such pride that your daughter bought a home, and then feel like death the moment you step inside. You don’t mention how close you live to your daughter or how often you visit her home, but the cat certainly affects your ability to breathe with ease while you’re there.

While the cat may be no more than a pestilent, sneeze-inducing furball to you, try to think of how your daughter feels about her new friend. Cats are inquisitive, playful, adorable and quite photogenic. Sadly, you can’t enjoy these qualities but your daughter can.

Let’s say that your daughter did get a cat for the sole reason of making you feel unwelcome in her home. Seems a bit passive aggressive to me. Do you actually believe your daughter would do this to you? If so, this cat would be the least of your worries.

Whatever the reason, you need to talk to your daughter. I agree with your wife that insisting the cat scrams seems a bit harsh. After all, your daughter is an adult who deserves to fill her new home with what she likes
-- including pets. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, though. There’s an entire spectrum of things you and your daughter can do to ease your discomfort while still respecting her space.

My father has terrible aversion to cats, and he was in a situation similar to yours. His brother’s family bought a cat a few years back. Now he takes a Claritin before he goes over there, and his brother’s family is careful
to vacuum the house. He still prefers not to sleep over and always brings extra meds, but they make it work. It’s about compromise -- making the cat go outside if it’s an outdoor cat, or eating outside for dinner or meeting places.

The only way your daughter knows to vacuum or otherwise prepare for compromise is if you tell her. So start that conversation. Just don’t go presenting ultimatums. There’s no question that the cat complicates your
visits to your daughter’s house, but it doesn’t mean she’s pulled the welcome mat from underneath you.

All the best,

Rachel Kurzius revels in giving advice, and has provided counsel both as a columnist and a friend. She lives in Washington DC, where she works as a news producer. Real Talk with Rachel is published on All Life is Local and the Cleveland Park Listserv,, on Wednesdays. Need advice? You can write to Rachel via  or via or at advice @

No comments:

Post a Comment