When a Scent is Okay One Day, Terrible the Next

Okay, pet owners. This one’s for you.

My husband and I have had our cat, Satchel, for a little over five years now. He’s a constant source of entertainment and cuddles, and we just adore him. This past summer, we brought home a little kitty-brother named Cubbie for him. To our happiness, they get along swimmingly, and they have become famous in our personal social media circles for the various cuddling photos I've posted of them.

Cats are my favorite animal, and I have wanted my own since I was a little kid. My mom is terribly allergic, though, so it wasn’t ever an option until I became an adult and had a place where the landlord allowed pets. I promised my husband, who also has a cat allergy, that I would do the heavy lifting and take on the majority of cat care: cleaning the litter box, tidying up, buying and doling out food, etc. Though I had heard about people’s issues with their pets going to the bathroom in inappropriate places, I figured we were safe since Satchel had never peed outside of the litter box since we adopted him.

Oh, was I wrong

Satchel, like many male cats, got a UTI a few years ago and started peeing outside of the litter box in his discomfort. Now he still occasionally does it, and the vet posits that it's just as likely it’s behavioral as it is due to health condition. Cats are famous for doing their own thing, and interruptions in their routine can throw them off quickly, resulting in behavioral issues that really can get on their humans’ nerves.

So that’s the background.

Scent-free cleaner

The one thing you can do to clean up cat pee is to use an enzymatic cleaner. I’ll let Google tell you why that is, but just trust me on this one. Too bad the only enzymatic cleaners I could find locally were heavily scented! I looked up information online and found that a lot of people complained about the perfumed cleaning fluid, wishing the main company that creates this product would bring back a scentless version. I asked my vet if they had access to any commercial-strength cleaner that was scent-free (or at least scent-light). No dice.

Thankfully, the smell doesn't always bother me. The problem is it lingers for awhile, so even if I clean up the occasional stain with the cleaner on a migraine-free day and can handle the aroma, the smell may trigger or worsen a migraine attack the next day or even two days later when my migraine threshold is lower.

Fragrances and triggers

Something similar has happened with perfume/cologne before. Once, a customer of mine who wears a signature perfume left her scarf at the bookshop. I kept it in the office with me, knowing she was coming by later in the week to fetch it. The first day of its being in the same room as I wasn’t bad. I caught a whiff occasionally and it didn’t bother me in the least. However, when I came in the next afternoon to catch up on work after a migrainey morning, the smell of the fragrant scarf was too much to take, and the migraine that was finally going away seemed to have been re-triggered by the scent.

Have you ever had the experience of a scent being tolerable one day but migraine-triggering the next? Share your stories below! 

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