I spent the last day of 2016 with a small, brand-new paintbrush and a small, brand-new can of white Boysen paint.  It was 9 am of December 31 and I told myself that, whatever happened, I had to finish painting the section of the wall that our cat, Moomin, had picked at for the last 3 years.  He probably noticed a section of paint bulging in one spot and had tried to poke at it with his claw.  After so many years of picking at it, I realized one day that the wall looked disgusting; the hole he’d made was large enough to be obvious even from outside the house.

The problem was, I didn’t know how to paint the wall.  I’d heard about curing the wall, so I called my brother and used the wonders of video calling to show him how bad the hole was.  “Tsk, you’ll have to strip the whole wall,” he said.  “Make sure you use even strokes so the color comes out even.”  “What,” I asked, “the whole wall?  It’s New Year’s Eve!”  He said that if I wanted it to look nice, that was the only choice.  Well, I had to shop, and cook, and do a million other things.

So I did what any busy Mom and cat-owner would do:  I painted over the hole.  Ta-da!

And then I glanced at our closets and realized that someone had been hanging clothes on the handles, and that the clothes hangers had scuffed the white paint there as well.  So I went to get pieces of foil to cover the handles, and gave the scuffed parts a dab.   My husband thought I was mad, as I stood there, holding foil on one hand and a paint brush on the other.  I didn’t care, I only wanted to make sure the house didn’t look too bad on New Year’s Eve to  bring in new luck.  After a horrible 2016, I wasn’t taking any chances.

A Paint with No Smell

The best part of the whole painting exercise was that the paint had no smell.  Granted, I only painted the part with the cat damage, but still, I couldn’t smell anything at all, even up close.   The not so great part was making sure Moomin didn’t get any paint on himself – he’s our Chief Inspector, and was nosing at the paint can and at what I was doing.  We put him inside one of the rooms when he got too close because I got worried – what could one use to take paint off fur?  What if he put it on his paw and tried to lick it?  (He’s not exactly a genius and is the only cat I know who can trip over his own shadow.)

Here’s Moomin’s backstory:  we found him as a stray kitten hiding under the chair of a restaurant in High Street in BGC.  My daughter caught sight of him and excitedly went to get him from under the chair.   He started purring and so the inevitable “let’s take him home” begging began.  I offered a compromise: if he didn’t squirm and wriggle out of my grasp we’d take him home in the car and at least feed him before deciding what to do with him.  “Okay, Mommy. Can we at least keep him overnight?”

That overnight turned into 3 years and is still ongoing.   He’s now ruling the house and has trained us humans so well on what he does and does not like (wet cat food; no substitutions on the brand, pats on the head only and no tummy rubs!), down to what human food he can tolerate (chicken! And fish except for salmon, yuk).

And so even if his brown paws leaves holes on walls and occasionally on our ankles, we love him anyway.  After all, there’s always paint to cover up the walls.   I only wish we could do the same to our scarred ankles.



Ellen is supporting Sustainability for a multinational telecommunications company. She is Mom to a lovely 15-year old daughter, as well as Moomin.

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