Have you ever wanted to lick your cat?
This is not my question—I can guess the answer—but it’s the one blaring from the packaging of the Licki, in all caps. Lest anyone believe the query is rhetorical, the box provides an answer: “NOW YOU CAN. WITHOUT THE FURBALLS.”
Although I’ve never felt such an urge, I do own a Licki. I ordered it from Amazon nearly a year ago, on a dare from a colleague. As soon as it came, I opened the otherwise ordinary envelope to find a silicone freak of nature.
Most of the Licki consists of a stiff, four-inch “tongue” section covered with 22 one-inch spikes, like the cleats on old-school baseball shoes. It’s attached to a mouthpiece, which resembles the big, chunky mouth guards that hang from football players’ face masks. The tongue comes in one color: a garish, fleshy pink-red. In case there is any doubt about its purpose, the slogan “LICK YOUR CAT” is printed four different times on the box and also on the mouthpiece, right where your upper lip goes, as if to remind you why you’re about to put this ridiculous object in your mouth.
Once the Licki arrived, I set it aside, for I had never truly wanted to LICK [MY] CAT and I was bashful about being so easily bullied into buying it. But one evening in late April, my cat, Nellie, was gnawing on my laptop screen and headbutting my hands as I tried to type, and I decided the time had come. As it gets warm in the spring, Nellie sheds a lot of hair. While she loves being scratched—she’s almost doglike in her affection, and doesn’t mind being touched on her belly or other places where cats can be sensitive—she’s hated every brush that I’ve ever tried to use on her.