I never knew what I was missing until this very moment. How have I lived this long without little cat tongues???
Sad story (content warning for putting cats to sleep): my lovely kitty Polo got Feline leukemia and had to be put down. I was a teenager. I could see she was suffering, I understood why it needed to happen, and I was there when they did it.
They explained beforehand what would happen, including that she might poke her tongue out and that that was normal. Me, being a person of reasonable intelligence, understood this fairly straightforward statement. But Polo had always had a habit of forgetting that her tongue was out. It was adorable and I associated it with her personality. So, when it inevitably did happen, I commented on it and affectinately told her to put it back in. Again - I understood what was happening and wouldn’t have expected the cat to listen to me anyway, I was just sharing a last moment of affection with my cat, saying something I had said dozens of times before.
But the vet decided that I was stupid and needed to be told again that it wasn’t my cat doing that, it was just an effect of the procedure. She interupted my cat’s final moments to tell me that. And whilst I know, objectively, that it was kindly meant - she was one of those adults who treats teenagers like they’re much, much younger than they are and had assumed that I hadn’t understood the first time, maybe that I was distressed because I hadn’t understood. But the fact of the matter is that she had no place in that moment. It’s not like I was wailing and gnashing my teeth or trying to interfere with the procedure or anything.
I was just talking to my cat. In reasuring tones. About something that meant something to me.
And I wish it was a moment that could just slip into the depths of time. Or that I could remember it and just think fondly of Polo.
But I don’t. Every time I see pictures like these I want to go ‘Ahhhh - so adorable! I love when cats do that!’, just like I always used to.
But I can’t.
Instead I think about Polo dying, and how our last moments together were interupted by a vet who thought I was stupid.
And I hate that.
I don’t know why I’m telling a bunch of people taht on the Internet. I don’t want to make you sad or make you feel bad about posting silly pictures of cats with their tongues out. I guess I just maybe had to tell the story, so it was out there somewhere. Maybe it will help me to set it aside.
I do miss my little cat. She was beautiful. And I wish she could have gone with less distress.