A Little-known Oral Tradition--Linoleum Kittens

Updated May 4, 2017.

Many tales become an oral tradition, passing down through generations. My family loves to tell stories about their past, especially about funny experiences. 

I remember one particular day . . .

As young boys, my brother Mark and I had two beautiful Siamese kittens,   Candy, a rich dark Seal Point Siamese, and Cocoa, a dark Blue Point Siamese. 

Siamese kittens have beautiful blue eyes and playful personalities.  

Candy and Cocoa were no exceptions.  They loved racing through the house, climbing the drapes or chasing everything, including tantalizing bits of string. 

While Candy and Cocoa were in the kitten stage, I helped my Dad build a family room addition onto our home.

My Dad was very skillful with his hands and could build anything he put his mind to.  I’m sure growing up on a farm during the depression had a lot to do with his do-it-yourself ingenuity; so did living in New England, a culture rich in oral tradition.

We put down a concrete slab and built up the walls.  For the roof we took beams and wood recovered from a silo on the old Hawthorne Farms in Hillsboro, Oregon.  Today, in this location is a large Intel facility named after the farm.

Then, we installed the electrical, plumbing, insulation, windows, and assorted other odds and ends.  

The last thing to be done was to install linoleum over the concrete floor. We measured and cut pieces of the linoleum from a large roll.  Each piece was carried into the house where glue was applied to the concrete. Then, the linoleum was laid over the glue.

We were down to the last piece of linoleum to be placed near the double door entry that gave access to the rest of the house. 

I heard a scrabble of claws, followed by a kitten racing full speed across the smooth kitchen floor, her playmate close behind.  There was no possibility of either of them coming to a stop.  

The kittens, oblivious to their dilemma, continued at a perilous velocity.

I stood, helpless, on the far side of the glue.  

First, I watched Candy, followed by Cocoa, sail over the top of Dad, who was on his hands and knees applying glue, and land in the very slippery white stuff.  

The kittens cartwheeled, whirled about and performed in-place kitty burn-outs in their attempts to gain traction.

A personal take on oral tradition . . . 

Dad muttered devastating words, “x@$#&!”

I placed my hands over my burning ears.  

He tried to grab hold of each kitten in turn, only to have them slide away!  

In desperation, he pinned Candy to the floor, picked her up and threw her to me.  

I’d suffered Candy’s sharp talons before; proving to be an intelligent young boy, I side-stepped the flying cat.

To say Dad was not happy with me is an understatement.

Being the kind person my father was (a former army drill sergeant); he captured the kittens and immediately headed for the laundry sink.  Both cats were quickly washed in soap and water to remove the glue.  

I’m sure some of the glue came off, but over the grumbling of my father, I couldn’t really be sure.  

Have you ever tried to bath a cat?  Cats and water don’t mix.  Throw in soap and you have the potential for disaster.

Without turning his head, Dad hollered for the handyman’s secret weapon. . . 

. . . lacquer thinner.

In this case, the not-so-secret-weapon failed to noticeably remove the now thoroughly dried glue from the kittens’ fur.  

After an additional soapy bath, Dad sighed with resignation.

Imagine what I had to put up with over the next few weeks.

Friends asked what sort of weird pets we had.

The kittens’ fur mostly stuck straight out and contained globs of white stuff dried on rock hard.  I found myself constantly picking out glue chunks from their fur.

Eventually the glue wore off.  

For months after, I found clumps of old glue stuck to the kittens, which I carefully clipped free.  

The result, Candy and Cocoa took on a motley appearance, and looked like they had mange.

To this day, Candy and Cocoa’s kitten story remains a vivid memory, and has become an oral tradition passed down through the generations of my family.

About the Guest Author

D. R. F. is an Information Technology professional.  He was raised by a Blue Point Siamese kitty named Missy.  He lives with his cats and family in rural western Oregon, USA.

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