By Jennifer Zambri-Dickerson
Cats are mysterious kind of folk — there is more passing in their minds than we are aware of.
~Sir Walter Scott
I am allergic to cats. Sneezing, runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes are just a few of the annoyances I deal with as a result of the allergy. However, I have loved cats all my life and a runny nose is not going to stop me from keeping them around. Every morning, I pop a wide variety of pills, both prescription and herbal remedies, to help keep my sinuses clear. When I first met my husband, who is also allergic to cats, I explained to him that he too would learn to pop the pills every morning or, sadly, our relationship could go no further. Quickly understanding the seriousness of the situation, he complied and we have been together ever since.
The only rule my cats, Fuzz and Tony, have in the house because of the allergy is that they are not allowed in the bedroom. That is the "cat-free" zone. This way, I always sleep in peace without having to worry about inhaling cat hair in the middle of the night and being jarred awake when the sneezing fit commences. They have never been happy about the rule, but they have at least built a routine around it. Once we go to bed, Fuzz and Tony head for the downstairs couch and call it a night as well. And when we wake up in the morning, they are right outside the door to greet us, anxiously waiting to be petted.
Several years ago, before I met my husband, an unusual break in this routine jolted me out of bed in the middle of the night. At around two o'clock in the morning, I was awoken by the sounds of howling and scratching at the bedroom door. Half asleep, I wondered if perhaps a small forest creature had made its way into the house and was now trying to gnaw its way through my bedroom door. As I wiped the sleep from my eyes, it became apparent to me that it was Fuzz and Tony making all of that horrible noise and pawing at the door. The howling noises I heard were long, drawn out, panicked meows, almost like a baby crying for help.
My first instinct was to try to ignore the racket and go back to sleep. However, when I thought about it for a minute, I knew that something had to be very wrong for my cats to be acting this way. They had never woken me up before and they certainly had never made such frightening sounds before either. So, I dragged myself out of bed and stumbled towards the bedroom door.
Once I opened the door and Fuzz and Tony leapt upwards, pawing at my legs, that was when it hit me. The smell of gas was overpowering — it burned the inside of my nose and made my eyes water. I immediately rushed around the house, opening every window and all of the doors. Then I grabbed the cats, ran outside and tossed them in the backseat of my car to get them away from the fumes.
Once I was able to get the gas shut off, I joined my two little heroes in the car and gave them both big hugs. If not for Fuzz and Tony's persistence, I can only imagine what might have happened that night. Perhaps it was just a survival instinct for them to wake me so I could get them out of the house or maybe it was loyalty that led them to my door. Either way, they probably saved my life that night. I will always cherish the relationship I have with my cats, sneezing and all.