This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my small mammal and cat allergies, however...

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...this is a blessing I cannot quite get my head around.

I miss small mammals and cats so much it sometimes almost hurts. Just a few weeks ago, Dr. Morrison asked my opinion (from afar, of course) on a cat patient. I came closer to talk with her and absentmindedly started petting her feline patient. I looked down and gasped. I could feel my chest tightening. I snuck in five more pets then ran to wash my hands. I went outside to catch my breath for a bit. When I returned, Allison was there waiting to give me the disappointed Mom head shake. I needed it. She was only trying to save me from myself. I miss being around cats so much!

I stopped seeing exotic pets about two years ago because I could not breathe well around rabbits, rats or guinea pigs.

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I stopped seeing cats as patients about one year ago because I could not breathe well around cats.

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I developed severe asthma-like symptoms that my allergists has helped me manage by maintaining me on allergy medication including rescue inhalers, but mostly, gently pulling me away from cats and small mammals.

I can't see my allergies as completely or even mostly positive, as I can with many other situations. But I can see some positives in this sad, sad break between me and the cats and rats I love...

Dr. Bashara and the whole veterinary team have supported me 100%. As a "half-vet" (or so I feared), I could have rightfully been kicked to the curb. But everyone has been nothing but supportive, keeping me on the team and going so far as to throw themselves between me and cats.

I have been as busy as I always have, maybe even busier. This has been a relief. I wasn't sure what this would do to my practice.

I only see dogs anymore. That has caused me to focus my attention like never before. I continue to learn as much as I can, but focus my learning on everything canine. That has seemed to sharpen my medical practice. I enjoy being able to obsess about one species. I have never had that before.

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Cat clients seem to come from everywhere to say they miss me. It is good to feel loved. I miss them too, but the ones who have dogs I still get to see, and the ones who have only cats, I still get to say "hi" to.

I have not heard "It's only a" in two years. I do not miss that exotic pet uphill battle.

God made me special, and he loves me very much!

God made me special, and he loves me very much!

I do not miss the frailty of exotic pets nor their ability as little prey animals to hide their symptoms, often until they are in critical condition.

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Likewise, I miss the mystery and intrigue of cats, but not when it comes to medical issues. Is your cat eating a little less? He is probably fine, a bit sick, very sick or dying. Probably it is nothing, his kidneys, his gi system, his teeth or his thyroid. Or his heart. Or something else. Cats are beautiful and mysterious. They carry that over to their medical conditions. I do not miss that at all!

"I am fine. But I'm not telling  you  that!"

"I am fine. But I'm not telling you that!"

Angry or fearful cats and hamsters are killing machines. They are biting, howling ninjas, who are experts in their field. When the group I am working with sees our teammates with a crazed, screaming feline patient, we shake our heads in sympathy, slowly back out of the treatment room and give each other high fives. Never again. 

Angry house cats are like angry lions, only faster and sharper.

Angry house cats are like angry lions, only faster and sharper.

I would, of course, could I choose, not have allergies at all, and I have not given up on having them better controlled, but there are some up-sides. So for now I stay away from cats and rats and the other little guys. When I forget, Allison and the rest of the team are there to slap my hand or tackle me or disappointingly shake their heads, whatever it takes to keep me safe.