By mid afternoon we had the first three pieces of siding cut to size and the kidlets were set up with paint brushes and a pail of primer. If you look carefully at the picture to the right you will see that Neil's attention is not on his paint brush but instead on a kitten who came to help. I figured there would be curious kittens and had warned the kids to gently move any kitties that came too close. Two kittens acted as I predicted, cautiously creeping up the project, sniffing curiously at the primer's strange smell. And Neil did an excellent job redirecting.
But one kitten acted in a way I definitely did not predict. Throwing caution to the wind, Maude's most adventurous kitten approached the kids at a full run and without pause jumped . . . . straight into the gallon of primer. Poor Neil didn't even have a chance to intervene.
The poor kitten jumped back out almost immediately, leaving a splat of primer on the grass. It clearly wanted to escape, but rather than running it executed a series of quick sideways leaps, leaving more splats of primer on the grass.
The next 15-20 seconds were pandemonium. I was attempting to catch the kitten, which was still pathetically jumping through the grass. The kids were screaming and yelling, and my father-in-law was laughing out loud.
Meanwhile, there were several thoughts running through my head:
1 - we can't let this kitten try to lick itself until we wash off this primer
2 - Crap! We can't just wash this off, it's an oil based primer!
3 - I think I better call a vet and see what they suggest
4 - Crap! It's Labor Day and I'm sure the vet's office is closed
With the kitten wrapped tightly in an old rag, I dialed our veterinary's phone number. As I feared, I got a message that the office was closed, but I left a message explaining our predicament. I then held the kitten while praying that the vet would call back before the primer completely dried. Luckily, she did. The vet said to go ahead and use paint thinner to wash off as much primer as possible, and to follow immediately by a thorough washing with dish soap in warm water.
By this time the kitten had pretty much resigned itself to its fate. Using a rag soaked with paint thinner I carefully rubbed down all four legs, and then turned my attention to the very round kitten belly which was also covered in primer. Luckily, the kitten's head and back were mostly clean. I then switched to a warm dishwater bath. By the time I was done the kitten was a pathetic little sight. And it was shivering. The day was chilly, so we put our now very contrite kitten up in a small cage in the kitchen for the night. Besides keeping the kitten warmer while its fur dried, I also wanted to keep the kitten isolated. I had done my best on the two baths, but I was still worried that the kitten might get sick when it began trying to clean itself. I also didn't want Maude to get herself sick trying to bathe her kitten. The kitten sat shivering in a corner of the cage and gave a few mournful meows. After a few minutes I coaxed it into eating and drinking a bit.
The next morning I woke up a bit early and walked with some trepidition across the quiet kitchen. But when I lifted the towel draped over the cage the kitten (now christened 'Primer') stood up, stretched and meowed. I took her out of the cage and gave her another good combing - during which I realized with a smile that Primer is learning how to purr. Apparently having nothing worse than a slightly matted coat to show for her adventure, later that morning I returned Primer to her siblings and mother in the barn.
Hopefully Primer has shared her lesson with all of our other kittens and we won't have a repeat performance when we break out the red paint this weekend. : )