I’m waiting for Snorri the Cat.
Snorri is the name I’ve chosen for my hypothetical future-cat, who may or may not be appearing soon in my life. Snorri is named after Snorri Sturluson, a 12th century Icelandic historian, poet, and apparently somewhat troubled politician.
I’ve been waiting for Snorri for six years, since my mother died and I felt a wash of desire to have a cat, to help fill the hole in my heart. Problem is, when I hold a cat, I get hives on my arms. Sort of defeats the purpose of having a pet, if you can’t pet it.
So I tried to fill my animal need by volunteering at the Woodland Park Zoo, which was fun, but you obviously can’t touch the animals.
I spent a lot of time on Petfinder, looking at available cats I knew I could not have. Which made the longing worse.
(If not for the hives on my arms, a shelter cat would be my first choice: I’ve seen dozens of friendly, healthy, beautiful cats of all ages on Petfinder that I would have loved to have had.)
As one of my friends insists, it’s not natural for an author not to have a cat.
Then I tried to bury the desire for a cat, which after all seems like a peculiar desire to begin with. Although, given that even gorillas like having a cat, perhaps it’s something innate.
I read one opinion that we like cats so much because they’re about the size and weight of a baby. I have no desire for a baby, so I’m not sure how that fits. Perhaps, again, it’s the innate business: we just like holding something warm and baby-sized.
My own opinion on why cats are so funny is that when they do things like hop in and out of boxes, their faces don’t have the same range of expression that ours do, or a dog’s does. They don’t have eyebrows and couldn’t move them if they did. It makes them look like deadpan comics.
Then, the possibility of having a cat changed…
Last year I discovered that there’s a breed of cat called a Siberian, which is one of the very few breeds (Abyssinian might be another) where some of the cats produce abnormally low levels of the Fel d1 protein. This protein is what causes the majority of allergic reactions to cats. More information here.
(My skin reaction is not, I don’t think, a true allergy with a systemic reaction. It is instead — I think — a result of my having atopic dermatitis, which is skin with a barrier problem. Irritating substances go right into it. Apparently this is caused by a genetic mutation in about 10% of people, most often of northern European descent. There’s a recent theory that the mutation developed because it has a positive side effect: this troubled skin produces much more vitamin D than normal skin. At any rate, my assumption is that a cat with low Fel d1 levels will have less of the irritating substance, and thus not produce the hives on my skin. Hope I’m right.)
Back to the more important topic: kitty.
Siberians are a native forest and street cat of Russia, and might be related to the Norwegian Forest Cat and possibly to the Maine Coon. They’re big-boned and supposed to be friendly, intelligent, outgoing cats that can learn tricks like a dog. More about the Siberian here.
I eventually found a Siberian breeder in the region (well, three hours away) who seems to take abnormally good care of her cats: Catherine of Glorious Siberians. She’s meticulous, doing everything for the cats that one would hope. Very limited number of litters, she makes their food herself, she keeps the kittens with their mother until they’re 16 weeks old, she has prospective owners fill out a long questionnaire about themselves. And, she tests the Fel d1 level if needed. Most breeders won’t, which seems a little questionable to me if you’re selling your cats as possibly hypoallergenic, when the reality is that only a small proportion of Siberians produce the abnormally low levels of Fel d1.
I’m on the breeder’s waiting list. There’s a kitten right now who may be Snorri, but I won’t know until the Fel d1 test results come back, mid-September. So I try not to look too often at his photos, for fear of becoming too attached.
Hard not to, though.
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