Kitten Who Lost Her Tongue to Horrific Abuse Learns to Eat Again: 'Messy'

A kitten who suffered such horrific abuse that she lost her tongue has learned to eat again, albeit while making a little mess.

Foster owner u/MerryHeretic and his wife foster cats, and while they've seen their fair share of injuries, they never came across a creature missing its tongue before.

He shared a snapshot of the kitten, who they've named Jnco after the '90s jean brand, to Reddit, asking for advice on how to clean her.

They've been fostering Jnco for around a month, and she's about 12 weeks old.

Photos of Jnco the kitten.
Photos of Jnco the kitten. The 12-week-old suffered abuse which resulted in her losing her tongue. Now she is learning to eat. u/MerryHeretic

Anyone who's owned a cat knows they clean themselves by licking their body, which can result in dreaded hairballs being thrown up.

While owners can groom their pets themselves, pet food website Purina stated there are other benefits to cats using their tongue for the job.

Their website explains that as well as improving circulation and muscle tone, the: "Glands at the base of the coat are stimulated to waterproof the fur.

"Sebum is spread evenly which helps to waterproof and protect the coat and skin.

"In hot weather, the saliva they spread during grooming helps to keep your cat cool."

Cats' tongues are well-equipped for the job, with the muscle covered in tiny bristles, which act like a hairbrush.

Older cats in particular may need help grooming, and Purina advises owners to use a fine-toothed metal brush to remove knots or tangles once a week, and a natural or rubber-bristled brush to remove loose hairs.

"Gently brush or comb your cat's hair, using strokes in the direction that their hair grows," the site advised.

Photos of Jnco the kitten.
Photos of Jnco the kitten. The kitten manages to eat, although it's a little messy. u/MerryHeretic

Recalling the moment they discovered the extent of Jnco's injuries, u/MerryHeretic told Newsweek: "She was brought into the shelter by an animal control officer who found her. The officer also found her tongue attached to a bungee cord, and it definitely appeared to be purposeful.

"We've fostered many medical needs cats to include missing limbs, neurological disorders, and extensive skin injuries, but never one with a missing tongue."

The pair were shocked at the condition of Jnco, who was originally called Ivory.

"I was in disbelief when my wife told me about it and showed me the picture of the tongue on the bungee cord. [Jnco] was on a feeding tube before coming to our house.

"She could not live on a feeding tube forever, so she needed to learn how to eat on her own. And she happily did that on her own, although very messy," he said.

The couple has been showering Jnco with love, although the Redditor admitted: "My wife does all the hard work, I just play with the kitties. She has fostered around 1,000 cats in the past decade, 979 of those cats have been adopted."

In his Reddit post, as he confirmed she lost her tongue through "abuse," he added their secondary goal is to "get her unterrified of people."

Photos of Jnco the kitten.
Photos of Jnco, at left behind white cat, the kitten. The foster parents admitted they've never cared for a cat with no tongue before. u/MerryHeretic

Her future is uncertain, but she manages to take part in other creature comforts enjoyed by healthy cats.

u/MerryHeretic told Newsweek: "Jnco is still a little skittish, but when she feels safe she comes out of hiding and will beg for attention. She loves being pet and scratched. As far as we can tell, her lack of a tongue only affects her eating and drinking.

"She can do both on her own, but it is still very messy. We think she will get better at it as she gets older. Her purring and meowing are just like a normal kitten. She likes to sit in the window and get some sun.

"We tried a handkerchief wrapped around her neck while she eats but she still manages to get messy so we are just relying on regular bathing now. She does not fuss at all during bath time anymore and when she gets towel dried she purrs non-stop. She really likes to be scrubbed with a toothbrush."

Jnco will be available to adopt through the the Pima Animal Care Center in Southern Arizona, when she's "stable and less messy," he joked.

The Reddit post, shared earlier this month to the Cats forum, amassed more than 21,000 likes, as people shared their love for Jnco.

RAH2458 said: "I have heard some bad abuse stories but this one takes the top prize.Thank you for being the person you are and taking care of this little one - world needs more people like you. And to whoever did this - hope you're ready for some hot times."

MissRooney wrote: "Poor baby. Hope whoever did this never find peace and happiness. I'm so mad!!"

"What a sweet girl. I wish her a long life filled with nothing but love and joy," 1984vintage commented.