Oh MY! I have missed so very much! I was unable to log into the Fort because I was out of town and couldn't log in! Pffffft!
Lei: I am so very sorry to hear about your beloved Rainey. I'm sure she is having a great time with all our beloved pets and her newest friends! It does take a lot of time and I'm glad you have our wonderful fort animal lovers to lean on and provide you with support during this difficult and sad time. .
To everyone else, gabriel, UncleDavid, Marleybone, Roseskid, ARC, doxie, Canuckinchile, thank you so much for all the great photos and stories! I love seeing how everyone's pets sleep and snuggle together or splay out in absolute comfort on "their" couches and bed!
Here's the story and photo on my vet and Mr. Tootles, and the new vet.
VET CAN'T CARRY ON...ALLERGY TO HER PATIENTS SPELLS END OF SPECIAL CAREER
Chris Zdeb, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Saturday, June 09, 2007
EDMONTON - As career endings go, Dr. Marilyn Komarnisky's is far from purr-fect. The Edmonton veterinarian is leaving the city's only feline-exclusive practice after 13 years because of her allergy ... to cats.
It's a heart-breaking decision for Komarnisky, who for a long time had a very mild, underlying allergy to her own kitty. But two years ago her allergy suddenly got worse, affecting her ability to care for cats.
"It's not every cat, but there are certain cats that as soon as we're in the same room my nose is running, my eyes are running, my chest is seizing up and I have trouble breathing," she says.
Dr. Marilyn Komarnisky, right, is giving up her practice to Dr. Gayle McDonald because Komarnisky just can't be around cats anymore. (photo)
The files of these cats were marked as having this effect on Komarnisky, who donned gloves and a mask when treating them. Lately more and more cats were affecting her, indicating she was becoming more sensitive. Komarnisky's doctor told her it was just a matter of time before she had a very severe reaction and she needed to start taking daily allergy medication.
"I'm not someone who does medications well -- if there is a side-effect to be had, I'll have it," Komarnisky says, grinning. "That's when I made my decision to look for someone to take over the practice."
The search wasn't easy.
"You really have to be a cat person to want to work with them every day because they are a challenging species," she explains. "They're not going to sit, stay when you tell them to. You have to be very patient and very flexible. You have to work around their personality and not everybody wants to do that and not everybody comes with that kind of passion for cats."
Dr. Gayle McDonald does. Another cat lover, McDonald took over the Glenora Cat Clinic from Komarnisky on June 1. She has hay fever and is also allergic to cats, but so far only to her two pets Hook and Stinker, who have a habit of sleeping a little too close to her, McDonald says.
It's not unusual for vets to be allergic to their patients. An analysis of occupational hazards in veterinary practice in Germany that looked at 10,000 practices with 27,500 veterinarians between 1998 and 2002 found that 30.5 per cent of occupational disease claims filed were for allergic respiratory diseases.
Between 10 and 30 per cent of the general population is genetically allergic to something, says allergist Dr. Vincent Osundwa. An allergy to cats is one of the most common respiratory allergies, along with dust mites, pollen and mould.
The allergy is not to cat fur, as many people believe, but to a protein found in a cat's saliva and dander. "Some cats may be more allergenic than others, but there's no such thing as a non-allergenic cat," Osundwa says. "The longer you are exposed to the allergen the more intense your symptoms become."
The treatment is avoidance or allergy shots, says Osundwa, who sees more than one cat owner a day getting a shot for their cat allergy so they don't have to get rid of their beloved kitty.
When Komarnisky's own pet cat died in 1999, she and her husband decided no more kitties at home, leaving the vet with the cats she saw at work. The hardest part of early retirement will be not having that, she says, but "I'm so happy that I've been able to look after my own health and still allow for what I've tried to build here to continue on."
What she's built is a place where cats can come to the vet, an already stressful situation, without the added stress of being around dogs.
She so believes in it she couldn't just walk away when her allergies worsened and make those kitties go back to an all-species clinic, Komarnisky says.
As she explained in a letter sent to each of her clients: "Every cat who has come to see me has touched my heart. I will miss every one of them. As my allergies have now prevented me from living with cats, I have shamelessly used yours to give me my daily cat-fix. I can't begin to describe how much I am going to miss your feline family."
The vet plans to take the summer off and possibly work part time at the clinic in the fall, but caring only for cats whose dander won't get her allergies up.
Meanwhile, there are the neighbours' cats to give her her daily cat-fix, she adds brightly.