People who give up (relinquish) their cats frequently state that they are allergic to their cat and therefore they have to give him/her up. In fact “owner allergies” is the second most frequent reason for giving up a domestic cat to a shelter. The number one reason by the way is “too many cats in home”.
“A true cat person never lets anything get in the way of love. even a cat allergy is a minor inconvenience.”
The fact of the matter is that a study discovered that “among the individuals relinquishing a cat for allergy reasons 11% nevertheless still own at least one other cat”.
When they were queried about this, other reasons were given for abandoning their cats besides an allergy to cats. Often the true reasons were too many household pets and cat behavioural issues (but not cat aggression problems). In other words, the true reasons were very vague and/or really human orientated (personal reasons) by which I mean the owner had decided to give up their cat and that there is no true or good reason behind it.
The reason why people not infrequently cite an allergy to cats as a reason for giving a cat up is because it is less socially stigmatising. It is an excuse which absolves the owner of any wrongdoing. It sets them free of guilt provided they can convince themselves that it is true and it avoids any criticism – unless they are not believed and I’d that bet shelter staff (or vets) don’t always believe them.
Citing “personal reasons” as the reason why an owner gives up their cat is most often given by individuals with extremely low incomes. In fact, 44% of the reasons by low income individuals for giving up a cat were due to personal reasons. Personal reasons is a very general, generic reason and one which is centred around the individual person and has next to nothing to do with the cat that they are giving up.
I think the “I’m allergic to cats” excuse for giving up a cat is a very convenient one but it should not necessarily be accepted as true.
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Source: USA – 1990 – Regional Shelter Relinquishment Survey Study. The study involved 12 shelters in 6 states for one year.