In search of ponies: Love outweighs allergies

It’s worth a lot to a lot of people. Itching, red, watery eyes, breathless wheezing, racing heartbeat, sneezing and coughing — just a few of the things that best describe true love.

What’s truly amazing is the lengths to which people will go to itch and wheeze.

Cats lead the way in offenders, with allergy experts blaming them for the suffering of more than 10 million Americans.

It would seem that people susceptible to such torture would avoid the source of their misery, but interestingly enough, approximately 25 percent of people believe the suffering is worth it and keep animals that make them sick.

Mild to moderate allergies are probably the most common — ranging from irritating to very uncomfortable – but then there are the severe cases, which can result in serious illness or even death.

Yet people adore animals and crave having them in their lives, willing to go to the ends of the earth in search of solutions that will allow them to be with the ones they love.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what it is that triggers pet allergies and though hair gets the blame most days, experts say the length of an animal’s hair is irrelevant and it’s not the animals themselves that cause the problem, but rather proteins in their bodily fluids that cause all Hades to break out.

On top of that, there are a ton of variables that can be responsible for allergy issues, including things Fido might carry on his fur such as dust and dander.

Mixing myth with a pinch of reality, some swear by certain breeds touted as “hypoallergenic.”

It’s hard to know if it’s really that the cat is special or if the allergies simply eased with time, admitted one allergy sufferer, but something is different with the long-haired, white cat his family purchased in the hopes that he could live with it.

Previously forced to take antihistamines and retreat to the car while visiting cat owners, he now lives with one and said he barely notices. Maybe the cat really is hypoallergenic, he said, since it was only a couple of years ago that an allergy test revealed he would most likely only be comfortable if he spent his life in a bubble.

But at the same time, researchers and consumers have come out in droves to debunk a scientist — complaints of shady business practices not withstanding — who claims to have genetically produced the first true hypoallergenic cat.

It’s not so much that researchers believe there really are dogs and cats out there that manage not to trigger allergies. What is more likely is that one’s unique sensitivities are as individual as the pets they encounter, meaning that one dog may be a recipe for disaster while another is a non-issue.

There are lists of dogs and cats which have been noted as easy on the allergies, though the claims lack scientific proof, and many of the animals on the lists would be considered high maintenance types, expensive and challenging to find, from hybrid designer cats to spirited terriers.

Given that each situation is unique, it is recommended that allergy sufferers test their exposure to an animal for a little while before committing, and that extra care be made to keep pets, bedding and favorite lounging spots as clean as possible.

And if, in spite of all efforts, allergies persist, remember and find comfort in knowing there are in the neighborhood of 12 million pet owners throughout America sneezing for love every day.


Sharna Johnson is a writer who is always searching for ponies. You can reach her at: or on the web at:

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