It’s a song oft-sung at Tabby’s Place:
“Insert-Cat-Name-Here had a dental today…
…and there were multiple extractions.”
Lest you envision us as a horde of scalpel-mad dental dastards, let the record show that we only remove those teeth who have outstayed their welcome.
In a species boasting up to 90% participation in the Dental Disease Derby, cats are no strangers to sore mouths. Whether it’s garden-variety gingivitis or the loathsome specter of lymphocytic plasmacytic stomatitis (LPS for the cool kids in the back of the bus), our favorite species is prone to unfavorable phenomena of mouth and gum.
Ergo the extractions.
The many, many extractions.
It is a fearsome thing to fall into the hands of dental disease. A hardy cat with a hearty appetite will avoid even the most glistening bacon when her teeth hurt badly enough. When the pain of chewing out-punches the pain of not consuming vast quantities of meat product, it’s a TKO to a cat’s health in no time. It may all begin with a bad tooth or ten, but left untreated, weight loss and worse can follow.
We’re not big on allowing “worse” to follow any of our cats around town at Tabby’s Place.
Ergo the eleven thousand extractions (give or take a tankard of teeth, and yes I am sorry for that image).
You may, concerned citizen that you are, worry that this indignity would wallop a cat’s essential catliness. What of those cats for whom Eating Infinite Kibble is their core competency?
What would Baby put on his resume, should he have to scratch off “Exuberant Consumption of 80% Of Temptations In Tri-State Area”?
How could Angelo face his LinkedIn contacts if he had to delete “Ability To Re-Enact Egg Scene From Cool Hand Luke, But With Spam”?
Who is Wilbur without his core competency of “Consuming All The Crunchies, Yes All, ALL THE FRIGGIN’ CRUNCHIES THAT HATH EVER CRUNCHED FORTH”?
These are the questions worth asking.
Any one of these luminaries could lose multiple teeth at any time.
Then again, so could you and I.
Tomorrow, your teeth might break rank with your mouth. You could be in for a crooked smile and a diet of Farina for days to come.
Your plans might fork off in wild, wily directions.
Things and people and sharp slivers of your identity might need to come out, and it might hurt.
You may wake one day and find you can no longer run as fast, or feel like the smartest in the room, or remain in that rocky relationship, or code HTML better than everyone in New England, or win pageants, or eat double-sriracha croissants with abandon, or sing all 27 parts of “One Day More” from Les Miserables simultaneously. (Now you know my core competency.)
The old trusty teeth may no longer tear through your day like a samurai sword. The old jokes may not land. (I am personally still working through the fact that my decade-long recourse to “vegan cheese” as a source of humor and frippery no longer works in a world with articles titled “The Dairy-Free Cheese You NEED In Your Fridge.”)
The old answers may weave themselves into itchy sweaters. The old comfort foods may taste like lint. You may need to deconstruct. The Great Celestial Dentist may need to perform multiple extractions.
The very qualities you thought were your core competencies might turn out to be satellites, and you might be one stunned planet for a time, slack-jawed and spinning in the sky.
But remember that the moon is, in fact, made of green cheese, and even your dumbstruck gums will find sustenance among the stars.
As usual, we are wise to sink our teeth (be they many or few) into the wisdom of one Faith Rosenberg. Having faced multiple extractions, our wee mirthmonster with an overactive motor is an entire spiral galaxy of solace for the feckless and fangless and flailing of all species.
Faith, you may recall, was flung into this earth with a few too few folds in her brain. She spins because she’s happy; she spins because she’s free; she spins because her cerebellum never fully developed; she spins incessantly.
Multiple extractions, pre-birth.
But, short several spoons from the hour of arrival, she nevertheless perceives life as nothing so much as a pond of pudding — in her favorite flavor.
Faith found her swirling self in a land laden with its own sadness, among humans with huge hearts and meager means. There was no home fit for Faith on her side of the sea.
But huge hearts and savvy minds are sharp enough to bite through a “hopeless situation,” tearing it to savory shreds. And so Faith’s angels assembled, and made a meal out of life’s mysteries, and found a way for Faith to see what all cats stubbornly believe: life is wonderful, and even humans, those grinning goobery bipeds, can be grand.
Even ensconced at Tabby’s Place, Faith would face loss. Potential adopters choked at the severity of her spinning. Ringworm took a tasty bite of the littlest licorice cat. Faith’s own teeth rose up in protest against her gums, and soon The Great Exodus of Chompers ensued.
And one happy, hardy, huge-hearted cat.
Extraction is inescapable in this life. We’re all going to lose teeth and half-truths. But nothing on this earth is uprooted without something better being planted, if only we open our mouths and souls to receive it.
Bring forth the pudding.
Welcome the new, gnarly core competencies.
And trust every cat who ever lived: anything that gets in the way of eating crunchymunchies and/or living full-hearted (which are, of course, synonymous) can be safely extracted.
Today, Faith is enjoying the protracted pleasure of a life called forever. That’s right: as will surprise exactly no one, our tiny, tenacious treat was adopted, right on time.
Care for a cup of soft-serve?