91: Decorating Paws

91: Decorating Paws

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Cat Did That!

Decorating Paws

Cleanliness is next to impossible.

~Author Unknown

After forty-five years of marriage, there aren’t many projects my husband and I have done that did not turn out successfully. We’ve planted gardens, built a dark room, raised six children, and finished many decorating projects. Not all of the latter were easy, however. There was a time we wallpapered a room and I was certain it would end in divorce. Projects with spouses take work and they certainly educate you on the rules of give-and-take.

I’ll never forget our very first decorating project. We were newlyweds, and we redecorated the dining room at our first home in Delaware. When finished, the room was painted a light golden hue that left it feeling warm, and the windows sported new off-white drapes with golden flecks that perfectly complemented the color we had chosen.

“I love it,” I said, as I slipped an arm around Don’s waist and hugged him.

“The next project is the kitchen floor,” he declared, as we beamed over the outcome of the beautiful new dining room. “We can cover that ugly old linoleum with new vinyl tiles. It’s not a difficult job, and I can do it myself.”

A few weeks later we purchased the vinyl tiles for the kitchen, and Don began the preparations to install our new floor. We had added a sweet little black kitten to our family just days before, and had not yet given him a name. I was keeping the kitten in the basement with a litter box some of the time until he learned to use it.

The kitten was in the basement the morning my husband began spreading the black, goopy glue on the kitchen floor for the new tiles. The basement door was at one end of the kitchen, and the entrance into the newly decorated dining room was at the other. Just as Don took his trowel and smoothed the sticky glue on the last section near the dining room entrance, he saw something streaking towards him across the black glue and realized it was the kitten. He had forgotten to close the basement door!

“No!” I heard him scream. I turned to see him grab the kitten before it could reach the dining room carpet, and at the same time he dropped his gallon can of black, goopy glue. The can hit the floor and the contents shot across the dining room carpet, up the newly painted wall, and splattered all over the lovely new drapes.

“Oh no!” I yelled over and over as I saw Don dashing out the back door of our row home into the yard with the messy, struggling, glue-covered kitten. The kitten scratched at his hands and arms as he stretched out one arm to hold it away from him. He knew he needed to clean it before it ran away again and tracked the black glue all over the carpet in every room of our house. Still holding onto the frightened, frantic cat, he gingerly climbed through the basement window with it.

The only thing my husband could find in the basement to remove the tar-like substance from the cat’s paws and the entire under portion of its tail was a can of paint thinner. He quickly put some on a clean rag and began wiping the cat with it. Upstairs, I was in tears over the disaster in the dining room.

Suddenly I heard a blood-curdling caterwaul followed by my husband’s “Ouch!” (And a few other choice mutterings.) Then I heard the kitten running up the basement steps.

Once again, he burst through the basement door with a “Meeyowl!” and sped across the black and sticky glue, through the dining room and into the living room. My husband yelled at the top of his lungs from the basement, “Catch the cat!”

The kitten was still howling as he dove under our television set in a corner of the room. I could tell he was in great distress, and I began to cry even harder.

My husband came bounding in the back door holding a towel on his wounded hand where the cat had bitten a chunk out of his skin. He was mumbling something to himself, and then yelled in my direction, “Grab him, before he runs everywhere!”

“I am trying,” I cried as the cat meowed and weaved dizzily in the corner of the room. He looked drunk, and I felt he might keel over any minute. When I saw and heard the kitten in distress, I just cried more and yelled at my husband, “You’ve killed my kitten!”

“Hey . . . he bit me!” Don emphatically replied. I was afraid to reach for the kitten in case he might take his frustration and fright out on me, too. I quickly ran upstairs, grabbed a bath towel, a Band-Aid and first aid cream for my husband’s hand, and ran back to the frantic pair. Luckily I was able to gather the kitten in the towel while Don grabbed the car keys so we could rush to the vet’s office.

The cat was examined and we were told that the paint thinner had temporarily stung his sensitive paws and backside. After a bath, he was just fine. Thankfully, my husband’s hand was not seriously injured either.

The dining room, however, did not fare so well. Our kitchen tile endeavor turned into an extended mission that involved redecorating the dining room.

It certainly was not comical at the time. But forty-five years later, we can tell the story and laugh about our first year as newlyweds and how our first home improvement project went awry when a little kitten moved in.

I wanted to name him Tarbutt, but the family decided that Midnight was a better name!

~Beverly F. Walker

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