Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death by Caitlin Doughty – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
For anyone who will die or knows someone who will eventually die, for people curious about everything and anything, for my favorite mix of science and humor
In Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, Doughty blends her mortician’s knowledge of the body and the intriguing history behind common misconceptions about corpses to offer factual, hilarious, and candid answers to thirty-five distinctive questions posed by her youngest fans. In her inimitable voice, Doughty details lore and science of what happens to, and inside, our bodies after we die. Why do corpses groan? What causes bodies to turn colors during decomposition? Can you donate blood from an embalming post-mortem? Readers will learn the best soil for mummifying your body, whether you can preserve your best friend’s skull as a keepsake, and what happens when you die on a plane. Beautifully illustrated by Dianné Ruz, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? shows us that death is science and art, and only by asking questions can we begin to embrace it.
You know what, I just made this 5 stars instead of 4 because, as far as I know, nothing so approachable and clear has been put out there before. At least not in such a well-known and effective way! (FYI I totally gave this my vote for Goodreads’ Choice this year!)
Funny. Honest. Accessible. Smart.
For me, a huge part of enjoying this was how funny Caitlin made it. She took death from being a terrifying and heartbreaking ordeal, to – let’s say – giving it some life, and making it less scary by making it more understandable.
A lot of the science of the process I was already familiar with from past courses in forensics, but her explanations were concise and easy for anyone to understand. And, also importantly, it wasn’t boring in those moments that were heavy on the science and words that have latin bases and tend to strike fear into people’s hearts.
Her experience as a funeral home director is not something she shies away from here, and her willingness to be completely open and honest about what she knows and what she’s done is largely what makes this so successful. Her explanations of what you can and cannot do (corpse abuse laws exist!) with someone’s remains (skull on the mantel? donated to science?), or her most repulsive experiences (the smells of dead bodies, the things they leak, and how often her hands are touching things hands aren’t meant to touch) create a wide range of reading all within this one book. I trust that she knows what she’s talking about in the way that she presents information, and she acknowledges other options and perspectives on things as well as giving her own opinions.
Personal fav: Can someone donate blood after they die? Still no word from the red cross on if they’ll accept cadaver blood wasted down the drain during an embalming. Also a fan of the mummified cat layer! Also deaths on a plane. I think I’d prefer being next to a corpse than a baby for eighteen hours, but it’s still a little bit awkward.
On that note, if you are highly squeamish, you will probably need to skip some sections in here, because she does go into detail. It’s all respectful and factual, but if getting into the nooks and crannies of a body is going to be too much for you, that’s a lot of what this book is by nature.