Allergic to lonely MIL's cat, are you still obligated to spend time there?

Mrs. - posted on 11/03/2010 ( 20 moms have responded )

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My MIL is very recently divorced and last Christmas she insisted that we spend the night with her at her new home. We actually really enjoyed ourselves and our new baby liked spending her first Christmas there.

About two months after Christmas, despite the fact that her son repeatedly told her I was very allergic to them, she got a cat.

Now, I don't expect my MIL to not get an animal because one member of her family was allergic. The problem is she keeps insisting we spend the night and is most certainly expecting a repeat of last Christmas. This is after the reminders of my being very allergic and not able to tolerate it.

Question is, are you still obligated to spend the night/a large amount of time at a close relative's home even if they have an animal you can't breathe/break out in hives around?

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Tracey - posted on 11/04/2010

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Could she put the cat into boarding kennels while you are there overnight?

Mary - posted on 11/04/2010

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Tah, I guess it really does depend on the severity of the allergy, and only the OP knows if her allergies are truly life threatening. For most people with cat allergies, they are not. Spending a few hours in a person's home who has ONE cat, who has thoroughly cleans the house and keeps the cat contained for the duration of the visit should make it fairly doable. Perhaps not symptom-free, but, for the sake of family harmony, at least manageable. I do think that an overnighter could be too much, but a few hours is probably reasonable.

Again, only the OP can really determine for herself the severity of her allergies, and if it really is life-threatening for her to spend any time there. I see where it is a difficult situation, particularly for her husband. If Rebecca is truly unable to spend any time whatsoever in her MIL's home, despite some of the measures I suggested, the only option is for the hubby to visit with their child on his own sometimes, and for all holiday visits to occur in Rebecca's home. I just think that I personally would want to TRY to find a workable solution before blanketly refusing to ever visit the MIL's house; it could cause more damage than it's worth.

Mary - posted on 11/04/2010

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I don't mean to sound insensitive to your issues, but I think Sharon has a point. I agree that spending the night in her home is out of the question, but hopefully you can find some type of allergy med you can take for one day for a visit.

It amy be helpful if your son had another discussion with her about your allergies, and how difficult it is for you to spend prolonged amounts of time in her home. He should ask her to vacuum and clean thoroughly before your arrival, and keep the cat contained in one room for the duration of your visit. It would also be very helpful if she gave the cat a bath prior to your visit, as this drastically reduces the allergens in their dander. I have a family member who is also allergic to cats, and these measures have made it possible for them to visit fairly painlessly.

Spending the night on Christmas is not an option, but honestly, as your child gets older, you wouldn't want to anyway. I agree with others; invite her to spend the night with you. As for other overnight visits, your husband and child will have to do that without you. I personally would relish the occasional night with the house to myself, and this provides the perfect opportunity for have to have that little slice of heaven.

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Mrs. - posted on 11/04/2010

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My allergies have been known to make breathing difficult for me. I had pneumonia in college and it damaged my lungs. If I get a cold or am exposed to allergens I'm supposed to use inhalers. I try not to get to that point.
I'm thinking the inviting her over is the best option though I know she'll probably be less than thrilled. I do let my daughter go over although I'm starting to wonder if she too might be allergic (she sneezes at her house).

I do want to respond to the poster who said I'd be leaving a lone elderly woman by herself. My MIL had her family quite young and is does Iron Mans. She's hardly a helpless old lady. Although that does make me giggle a bit thinking of her that way.

Jocelyn - posted on 11/04/2010

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No you are not obligated since you have repeatedly told her that you are allergic and she still went out and got a cat. But don't leave her high and dry. Tell her that you can come for the day, but you can't spend the night. Ask her to vacuum (floors AND furniture) and then hold up the kitty in one room for the duration of your visit.

Tah - posted on 11/04/2010

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i know there are different severity levels of allergies, she said that she is also sensitive to otc medications like those to prevent the reaction or make it mild at least. Of course if there is something she can do or if it is a minor inconvience, some itching, maybe some sneezing, i would say try, but you are right, only she knows the severity of her allergy.

Julie - posted on 11/04/2010

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IMO, if she knew that, didn't keep at least a room "cat free" and insist you stay there, she is not even trying to respect you. Now, I've kept my critters out of my upstairs altogether for allergic family members. One still elects to stay at a hotel if they visit and I am not offended. The other is my mom and she takes an antihistamine before she gets here and then sleeps/showers/etc ... upstairs. That works for her.

Short answer: NO, you are not obligated.

Tah - posted on 11/04/2010

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@Krista, i wish...i may as well have been puffing on a empty straw those cats locked my chest up so tight, blood gases were in the toilet, wheezing so bad the stethoscope was just a formality, the doctor walked in and said is that you?..lol.. treatments weren't helping beyond a few minutes, shot of steriods, and a ticket to the unit each time....i really could not go....it is bad because my son has it just as bad...

[deleted account]

My mom's best friend is so allergic to cats she would never come to our house. When we bought a new house, she came over as soon as we got the keys (before we moved the cats in) and she stayed the whole day because that would be the last time she would get to come inside. Ever. But definitely find another way to spend time with her on Christmas, if not at her house then at yours or someone else's.

Krista - posted on 11/04/2010

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I agree with everything Mary just said. I'm also very allergic to cats, and for awhile my mom had a cat. At first I was annoyed, and then thought, "I only visit her house three times a year -- what the hell right do I have to tell her to not get a cat?"

So, I take some Claritin, keep my puffer in hand, and suck it up. And if I'm a little sneezy or wheezy while I'm there...well, it's not a long visit and I'll be home soon enough, I figure.

Tah - posted on 11/04/2010

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The last three times i went to my parents house before they got rid of the cat i was hospitalized after for 5-7 days each getting round the clock breathing treatments, steroid therapy and allergy medications. I used to live with cats and we never realized that was why my asthma was in a constant state of flare up. If it is going to cause you to be sick and she knew that, then no, You say you are sensitive to otc meds so if you have tried everything then no, try to get her to spend the night with you guys, make a day of it...

Desiree - posted on 11/04/2010

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You need to discuss this with you GP and maybe see if you can get a shot of some kind. Some allergies do go away if you have been exposed to the alergen for long enough. And it more the hair and dander that you are allergic to not the cat itself. If kitty is a cat that sheds alot this is the probable cause.

As to staying with her overnight maybe you should try explain why you can't but that you can go back in the morning to be with her for the Holiday. She will probably accept that alternative, she just is afraid that if you go home you won't come back and she really doesn't want to be alone.

Caitlin - posted on 11/04/2010

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I load up on anti histamines before going to my dads house, he has 2 cats. If I forget, my eyes swell up, I gte hives and get itchy and my asthma acts up. The cats don't keep me away, I wouldn't stay over night, but I make sure not to touch my face while i'm there and as soon as I get home I strip off my clothes, they go int he wash and I take a nice shower..

Johnny - posted on 11/03/2010

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I agree with Sara. If it makes you very sick, then no, I do not think you are obligated at all. Can she come to stay with you? It sounds like you don't want to alienate her, have thought of a pre-emptive invitation?

Sal - posted on 11/03/2010

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i have the same prob, (she has loads of pets, most of which live in the house) i stock up on antihistimines before i go, and i won't stay the night....(.the cats are a great excuse)...she come here and mentions i have a cat, i just tell her he never comes inside, which he doesn't.....and i do changes my clothes if i have to hold him...she does know i really do have the allergies badly as when i was pregant i wasn't going to take anything and i would comeout in hives and swollen eyes when i went there, and that was a great excuse to get out quickly!! lol

Sharon - posted on 11/03/2010

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So you're going to try & force a lonely elderly woman between her only comfort and her son without making any additional efforts?

Mrs. - posted on 11/03/2010

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I'm very sensitive to over the counter allergy med or any meds really. I've also had bad reactions to shots..not sure it's worth it for a visit.

Sharon - posted on 11/03/2010

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You can't take a medicine or get a shot?

If you can't medicate it, then NO, you are NOT obligated to stay with them.

Why not take her out to lunch and/or dinner instead?

I took an oral med to deal with my allergies to ferrets & bunnies.

[deleted account]

If it makes you sick, then no. Maybe a compromise is best. Could she come to YOUR house and leave the cat at home?

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