Is It Wrong to Get a Kitten When My Mother Is Allergic?

Updated on July 26, 2016
S.D. asks from Lake Geneva, WI
27 answers

Our family wants a cat. It's myself and my fiancé and our 4 year old daughter who loves kittens and cats. We don't want a dog because we are active and don't want to have to go home every 4 hours to let it out. On top of the fact that we live in an apartment. I work part time and could be home with the kitten Monday- Thursday and my fiancé is home on the weekends.
The problem is my mother is allergic to cats. She has owned a Devon hypoallergenic cat when I was young. She said she had allergies in the beginning but eventually her body got used to it and she had minimal allergies. Knowing she has allergies we researched hypoallergenic cats and found we liked the Siberian breed. I found a breeder and put a deposit down on a kitten. My mom went to the breeder's chattery and had allergies while doing the allergy test they offer. However the breeders house was full of cats (24 including kittens) plus 4 dogs and not super clean.
My mother lives in South Dekota and visits a few times a year. She refuses to take allergy medicine because she says it's bad for her health. I feel like We compromised by buying an expensive Siberian that she would hopefully have less allergies to. If we get the kitten she says she won't be able to visit even for an hour and stay with us.
My only problem with this is that if we want to go out of town for a weekend and leave my daughter my mother won't be able to stay at our house and watch our daughter. When she's visited in the past she has rented an B & B and sometimes stays with us. What should I do?

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answers from Philadelphia on

I don't think it is wrong but I wouldn't do it. I had severe cat allergies that caused me to be asthmatic. When I worked I couldn't sit in a chair that a coworker sat in because she owned cats. I also had terrible allergies just being around a friend that had cats because of her clothing. Cat allergies are no joke.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My second cat was acquired when the kitten was only 3 months old. She lived to be 22 years old. She was my sister's cat but ended up staying with me and mom because my sister could have cats where she moved to as an adult.

My second cat died this past November after 15 years of life. Got her when my son was 6.

We now have 2 new cats that are older and after they die. I don't want any more cats.

I'm allergic to cats but my allergies are not severe. I would prefer no pets. They are like children that can't and won't ever leave home. They are a huge responsibility. I love the new kitties and they totally adore each other and get along well with the two dogs but I did love those few brief years when I had no cat nor dog. Good times.

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answers from San Francisco on

Having a grandmother who can babysit the kids is invaluable. A cat is not. Don't get the cat, it's not worth the aggravation, and an apartment isn't an ideal place for a cat.

There are other pets besides cats and dogs.

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answers from Dallas on

In my opinion, I don't think you are ready for the responsibility and commitment of any pet.

ALL pets require care, playtime, Dr. visits, etc. You want a cat so you can feel better about ignoring it all day and not having to care for it like a dog. The cat needs care as well... true, not like walking a dog daily but it needs attention.

So you are willing to forego your mom being your babysitter for your daughter and visiting you, although not too often, because you "want" a cat. Is the cat more important than the bond you have with your mother and the bond your daughter has with her grandmother?

Part of being a responsible adult is to sort through want vs need and figure out the best decision. This is a perfect opportunity for delayed gratification. Just wait until you are more stable, in a home and better able to give any pet the attention and care it deserves.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

What concerns me in your post is that you purchased a cat from a breeder whose house was not clean. What kind of tests did the breeder administer to your mother?

Have you researched this particular breeder? Is the breeder within the limits of the laws and breeding responsibly?

And have you researched whether your apartment permits pets, and what the extra fee would be?

I guess you have to determine the pros and cons of your choice. You might limit your mom's visits to your apartment, and you have to commit to owning a special breed of cat that will require veterinary care, expenses, and a commitment to a pet. Do you love cats, or is this kitten for your 4 year old? A child that young doesn't understand the responsibility of owning a pet. Just think it all through carefully.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

You can't make your mom take medicine she doesn't want to take. That is pretty selfish of you to even think. You stated that you compromised by getting an expensive breed. No, not really. You might have started out that way but you made the decision to put the deposit down knowing your mom had allergies. News flash: Your mother can't breath in your home with cats. Your house, your rules. She doesn't pay the bills. You and your fiancé do. So make the decision based on what y'all want. However, do keep in mind that your decisions have consequences.

Personally, I wouldn't do it but that is me. I don't like cats. =)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Your house, your decision. It's up to you if you feel that a cat will be an asset to your lives for the next 10-15 years, even 20 (some cats live that long). Your daughter may think it's cute, but remember that kids don't realize that kittens grow up to be cats, and that they require work.

You can't force your mother to take allergy medication. I don't know if it's bad for her health or not, but I do know that not all medications work short term for animal allergies, particularly cats. So I'd give up on that.

Your mother can stay in a hotel and your daughter can stay with her there. You can all visit there, go out to dinner, go to the park or the children's museum, see the local sights, whatever would be fun. The cat can stay home alone. If she gets a hotel or B&B, yes, it will be more expensive, but certainly you will have plenty of time to save up for it, just as you did for a very expensive cat.

Pretty much anyone can take care of a cat while you are away - you can hire a neighbor or a local teen or even professional pet sitter to come in, do the necessary work (minimal) and give the cat some attention/interaction. You're right not to get a dog in an apartment with 2 working people, so good for you on that score.

Your daughter can also go visit your mother at her house if you go away. So it costs money to take her there, but you and your fiance can scale back your own vacation costs to allow for that. You'll have to pack up your daughter's toys and clothes, but you would do that if you took her with you. You have to weigh the number of days you'll be inconvenienced (maybe 4 weekends a year? 8 days?) vs. 365 days of pleasure with a pet.

I'm wondering if there's more of a control issue going on here, and less an allergy issue? Does your mother need to know that she "matters" in your life? Does she feel neglected or lonely? Has she been in other family relationships where her needs were discounted? Has she tried to control your choices in other areas? Those could be more underlying issues than what breed of cat you chose.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

I love cats and have one. My initial answer would be to get a cat since your mom is in SD, but the details changed my mind for two reasons.

It doesn't sound like you're in a good life-space to have a cat right now. People are often surprised about how much of a commitment a cat really is and how much work is involved with getting a kitten. You also say you live in an apartment, so that can be an issue if your landlord discovers has to rip out subfloor or replace woodwork. Cats can cause a lot of damage. Some of it is just instinctual behavior to be redirected, some is unintentional due to illness, other times it is a behavioral problem from lack of training or trauma.

The other thing is that the breeder sounds sketchy. A house full of cats + 24 kittens + 4 dogs in an unclean environment is not the sign of a reputable breeder. I would not get a cat from him/her and I'd call the local authorities to inquire about getting someone out there to investigate. Don't be all attached to your deposit if you can't get it back. That would suck, but money doesn't trump ethics.

If you're determined to get a cat and your landlord is okay with it there are tons of existing cats and kittens available to adopt. You don't need a particular breed since your mom doesn't live there and says she won't come in regardless.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Only you can decide if you want a pet enough to give up free overnight babysitting. Unless, alternatively, you are willing to let your daughter go to your moms house for the weekend when you go out of town.

I don't see the occasional visits as much of an impediment, since you say she already stays at a B&B sometimes when she visits.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

ETA: Benadryl does cause sleepiness and slows down thinking abilities. It doesn't prevent an allergic reaction. It only deals with the symptoms. My granddaughter has allergies that can cause extreme discomfort. She takes a daily medication, Zyrtek, that does prevent most allergic reactions. Her doctor says take Benedryl to soothe a reaction after it takes place.

OTC meds such as Zyrtec, Clariton, and several others, do help tremendously in preventing an attack. I don't know if just takin it while at your house will help. You can get information from the pharmacist.


I suggest you make your decision based on what your immediate family wants. Your mom visits a few times a year. You and your mom need to work this out based on what you decide to have in your house. She really doesn't get a vote.

You've compromised. What she does is up to her. Do you really think she won't visit? Cut you and her granddaughter out of her life based on the possibility that she might have an allergic reaction? That is her decision now. I suggest that once you have the hypoallergenic cat, she can try out visiting you and decide from there.

She can take allergy meds. They are much improved since she first could be helped with them. She can stay at the B and or a motel. However, again, that's her decision. It would be a way for her to compromise. I would get the cat. Then let her decide how she's going to handle it for herself.

One of my cousins had a cat and an adult relative, allergic to cats visit. She kept the cat out of one bedroom so that the relative had an allergen free space for sleeping. Worked for them.

I believe it's right to get a cat for your family. Good that you consider her. Not good that she controls your life.

Really, how often does she visit? She lives miles away.

I think your post answers the question about you being involved with the cat. Leaving a cat alone for a few hours is very doable. It does not mean you won't love and care for it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

I agree with TF. Besides you do have to interact with the kitten to train it to not do things and that does take time. It's like having another child in your house but this one has four legs instead of two.

Get your deposit back and wait for a while. You need to build a better bond between your daughter and your mother and you.

We just got a kitten three months back and she still is into everything but getting better. Also there is always someone home with her during the day so she is not left alone for long periods of time.

the other S.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

If you want your mom to visit & be comfortable don't get a cat. Teaching your child to be thoughtful of others is not a bad thing. Just get a different pet.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

It's your home not hers, and if her allergies are that bad she can stay at a hotel while in town and watch your daughter there. You guys can hang out at the park, the mall, go out to eat, etc. there's no reason to be chained to your apartment while she's in town. And you can always hire a sitter when you need a break, grandparents aren't built in babysitters after all, I mean it's nice if it works out that way but it often doesn't.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to mamapedia!!

I'm not a cat person. I have allergies to them as well. Kittens grow up to be cats.

Cats, while low maintenance, still need attention. You don't sound like you're ready for the responsibility of a pet. ANY pet.

I hope you can get your money back from the breeder. Go back when you're ready to be responsible for the pet and give it attention and love.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I would have her take your daughter to a hotel for the weekend. Pay for it. One with a pool - fun weekend for grandma and daughter.

Have someone else care for cat.

We stay in hotels when we visit my family and our friends who have pets. My son is very allergic. No biggie. It's just life - they have pets.

You make it sound (maybe just reading more into your question than I should) that she's being demanding. That's kind of different. Not sure if that was part of the question.

But ultimately, I'd do what worked for us and find workarounds that suit everyone. But if going to be a huge pain, then I'd have to consider if it's worth it. Hard to say. You know your mom :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

It is up to you. You are fully within your right to get a cat, and she is fully within her right to say she can no longer babysit at your house because of it. In the end it is up to you.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

You live in Wisconsin and your mom lives in South Dakota but babysits on weekends?
Get the cat. When mom wants to come visit, she can get a room or take antihistamines. If you want to go away for a weekend, either take kiddo to mom's or hire a sitter.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My 11 year old and I are allergic to dogs. Everyone else in my family owns a dog - we do not. We go visit, but my family is great about cleaning before we come so we aren't miserable. And I keep Benadryl in my purse. I can't imagine someone not doing what was right for their family to accommodate me, a guest.

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answers from Chicago on

My father is allergic to cats. We recently got two kittens. When he comes over, he takes medicine. It's her choice to not take something. In fact, I'm allergic to cats and we have two of them!

My best friend will never, ever be able to come to my home again. She has terrible allergies to many things, but she has sever reactions to animals. With her asthma, it gets bad. Since she only visits once a year, we decided we had to make the best decision for our family. Since the kids wanted pets, we got pets.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Get the cat. Your mom can take Benadryl when she visits if she has issues.

Don't even start to base your cat choices on her. Now, if she lived with you then that would be a different story. Since she doesn't even live near you then you should be able to do what you want.

Cats don't need people to be home with them either. Why do you plan on being home with it Monday through Thursday and fiance being home with it on the weekends? If you have to be home with the cat why not get a dog instead? Same difference in my opinion. You're planning on staying home with the cat and she's not allergic to dogs.

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answers from Norfolk on

I would not get any pet while living in an apartment.
Your child is almost school aged.
If you think you're busy now - look out because you are going to get much busier very soon.
Between school events, projects, extra curricular activities and fund raisers you will be busy enough without taking care of an animal too.
Having a pet is JUST like having another kid.
A cat can live 15 years - this is a long term responsibility.
They need their shots, they go to the vet, they need pet sitters, and even a cat - which can be pretty independent compared to dogs - needs human interaction on a daily basis.
We don't have pets - not because we don't love animals - but because I just know we're just too busy to do right by any animal.
We live vicariously through our neighbors pets - and we baby sit their chickens when they go out of town.
Just pass on this and save the money you'd spend on a pet for your daughters college fund.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Well, it sounds like you made a real mistake taking her to the breeder's chattery. What else was going to happen? There are cats galore there, not just the hypoallergenic breeds. And now that's all she is willing to think about, that she's going to have that kind of allergenic reaction everytime she comes to your house. So she is digging in her heels and making these kinds of demands.

Either lose the deposit and don't get the kitten, or find someone to watch your daughter in your mother's absence. When she starts the recriminations if you get the cat, then you're just going to have to tell her flat out that she had 24 cats assaulting her allergies, not one hypoallergenic one. Tell her that you feel that she is unreasonable and that if she doesn't even want to try to see her granddaughter, that's up to her. Then you have left it in HER court and she can decide if she's going to risk losing out on having a granddaughter because she is unwilling to even come to a B&B again.

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answers from Houston on

Your job is to make the decision that is right for you and your family. Let your mother make the decision that is right for her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

I guess I don't understand why allergy meds are bad for her health. If she's coming for a few days she should be able to take meds. My daughter is allergic to dogs and cats and allergy meds only help her for a little while thus we don't have them. Since your mother doesn't live with you getting a cat should be your decision. If you want to go out of town take your daughter to your mother's.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

If it were me, and I was hoping to have a parent (generously) give of their time to watch my kid, I would absolutely not have gotten a cat. I LOVE cats. LOVE them. That said, you have made it pretty much impossible for your mom to be there, so why would you expect that from her?

You can't have the best of both worlds, you know. You knew this before getting the cat. It would be inconsiderate of you, at this point, given what your mother has said, to expect your mom to just take some medicine and suck it up. You made the choice to have a cat. I have friends who cannot visit for 30 minutes at our home without having allergies kick in, so we either go to their place or meet someplace. My stepmom has allergies to our cats. Often, when they visit, we go out somewhere. She doesn't spend the night. If we wanted my folks to watch Kiddo, we would spring for a hotel because *they are doing us a huge favor*.

My guess is that, if you want the childcare, you pay for her to have a decent hotel with a pool and ways for your daughter to be entertained. Or pay for child care. Neither my husband nor myself have family nearby, so when we want someone to come watch our son, we pay for it.

ETA: Really, folks? Does anyone understand how Benadryl or other fast-acting allergy meds can mess you up? I fall asleep on those things! I don't get how people expect others to dance to their tune regardless of health concerns. And medication doesn't guarantee that the person won't have a reaction; it's a maybe. Listen, you took mom to the cattery, she had issues, she's concerned, yet you are only looking at 'what if I want childcare'-- at least, that's what it sounds like. Considering that she would also have to CARE for the cat-- feed it, litter box, whole deal-- maybe you need to sort out what's important. Expecting someone to medicate themselves to do you a favor is asking a lot.Unreasonable ask, in my opinion.



answers from Orlando on

Your mother is selfish!! Taking allergy medicine a few times a year will NOT be harmful to her health!!! However, her other option is to get allergy injections to cats. My sons get allergy injections to environmental allergies and cats. Now when they are around cats, they are FINE! Their eyes don't turn red and swell up like they used to! Allergy injections rearly do work, so she can do that. Now go get your cat!


answers from Springfield on

are you allowed a cat in an appt? the appt i rented stated that we could only have fish for pets subject to approval of tank size (too much weight couold be an issue for the buildings structure so we had to have our tank approved prior to filling it)
my hubbs is allergic to cats so my mom kept my cat at her house. hubs hated going there, we couldn't visit for very long before he had to leave due to the allergies taking over. my sil is also allergic but she would antihistamine up when staying there so that she wouldn't have as many allergy problems.
if you want the cat get it. your mom can babysit at her house or you can hire a sitter

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