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I'm a cat lady and it almost killed my high school sweetheart

Rachel Mátos, a social media professional and art historian, launched theArtMuse in 2010, and has since been awarded one of the Babble’s Best Bloggers of 2013 and LATISM’S best Latina Arts Blogger in 2012.

After graduating from the School...

A deadly cat allergy almost kept me from my high school sweetheart

My fiancé and I dated in high school, but I can't say I knew much about his allergies or ailments back then. At 15 years old, those were not questions I asked. We were just two NYC kids who loved talking about movies and music. Sadly, I ended up transferring schools and didn't think I would ever see him again, though I often wondered what happened to him.

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Twenty years later, we found ourselves having dinner in Florida, where he was living at the time — thanks, Facebook! I flew there from California for a work event. It was a platonic date, which consisted of catching up and gossiping about who did what after high school. We had burgers, laughed a lot and called it a night. We shook hands goodnight, and I flew back home the next morning.

Weeks later, we started chatting and getting to know each other better. I learned that he loved to draw (ooh, common interest), he helped his sister raise her son (OK, impressive), he'd been at the same job for 15 years (yes, stability), he was asthmatic (oh, no) and he was "deathly" allergic to cats — wait, what?

I immediately felt that the relationship might not go further because I wasn't going to give up my two fur babies, Zeus and Athena. They're family, and no romantic relationship would change that. Zeus slept in the bed with my son every night, and Athena always watched over us when we got sick.

Although this was an obstacle, we eventually did fall in love and embarked on a long-distance relationship. Every few months or so, we planned trips to see each other. I went to Florida or he came out here. At that time, my work required a lot of travel, so we did what we could to make it work.

However, whenever he came to visit me, he could not be in my house for more than a few hours without wheezing. We had to stay at a hotel, which felt strange, but there was no choice. At this point, we knew we had to do something.

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We discussed the possibility of him getting allergy shots. He knew that giving up my cats was not an option, and he never expected me to ever do that. He may be allergic to them, but he loves animals and knows that pets are part of the family.

He went into the allergy clinic for testing and found that he was allergic to a long list of things. They made an allergy medicine that was designed to get rid of his reaction to cats. In order for this to work, he had to get two shots a week for an entire year.

I wasn't thrilled that he had to get shots every week, but we were both happy there was a solution. We both felt that fate brought us back together, and we were not going to let an allergy end our happiness.

Several months later, he came out to visit me and he was able to stay in my house free of wheezing! We had such an amazing time that he didn't want to leave. That was the visit that sealed the deal. He was going to move out here to be with me — cats and all.

Today we have four cats. My son pulled our heart strings about a year ago by showing us a picture of a kitten his friend was giving away. A few days later, another kitten from the same litter needed a home. It's pretty funny that my fiancé  went from being allergic to cats to now sleeping with cats at the foot of the bed. Athena actually saved his life one night while he was having an asthma attack in his sleep from a bronchial infection. She woke him up when she heard his breathing.

Needless to say, he's very attached to our cats, and it's a sweet thing to witness. The only con to all of this is that his asthma prevents him from cleaning the litter box. He gets all the cuddles while I do the scooping.

I guess that's my payback for that year of shots he had to endure!

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