Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?

A review of Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs by Caitlin Doughty

To put you out of your misery, the answer to that question is…not right away.

I recently discovered a new bookshop in York called Criminally Good Books. That is where I found this little gem, in the upstairs section that provides research for writers. Obviously, as a writer of cozy mysteries involving a cat, this was an essential addition to my library. (That’s right, Mr. Taxman, essential!)

When I got home, I was at first slightly dismayed to find the author, a funeral home director in Southern California, was answering questions from children.

But oh what children these must be! And Doughty doesn’t talk down to them. Explaining to her readers why Fluffy might chow down on you after a day or two of finding an empty food dish:

Let’s keep in mind that, as much as you adore your domesticated meowkins, that sucker is an opportunistic killer that shares 95.6 percent of its DNA with lions…Mr Cuddlesworth is a sweetheart, you say? “He watches TV with me!” No, ma’am. Mr. Cuddlesworth is a predator.

Harsh realities, folks. And Fido has similar tendencies. But Ms. Doughty is always willing to look for the silver lining as well. In this case, snakes and lizards are the pets to own if you want your corpse to remain intact.

She is also soothing about some of the things that might worry children and adults alike. It’s extremely unlikely that you will be buried alive, for instance, or that an animal will dig up your body. There are also useful instructions about what not to do. Grandma can’t have a Viking funeral. Even if she could, it wouldn’t work. Even the Vikings didn’t do that. And you can’t keep your loved one’s skulls on the mantel, nor make jewelry from their bones after cremation. Good to know.

Although i will undoubtedly be consulting this book for facts such as why bodies turn colors after death, there are a couple of things have lodged permanently in my brain. The first is that when someone dies on a plane, it’s most likely the body will have to stay strapped in to its seat to the end of the flight. I’m going to be checking my seat mates are in ruddy good health before we leave the ground from now on.

The second thing is that many states still don’t allow you to be buried with your smaller pets, and there’s really no reason for this other than outdated law. Ms. Doughty decries this, and proclaims she might on occasion look the other way when Harry Hamster is inserted into the casket at the viewing. I appreciated that, because the funeral home did the same for us when my mother died, and we were able to put in boxes containing the ashes of her most beloved cats (don’t worry, they predeceased her). I remember the *clunk* as my sister accidentally dropped little Cleo next to her ex-mistress. It was a comfort to us to know they were all together, and I’m sure Mom appreciated it as well.

All in all, I appreciated Ms. Doughty addressing issues of law around the world, relating historical facts, and doing it all with humor and empathy. I was disappointed when the book came to an end. I’d love to hang out with her and hear more stories. And maybe take her to Disneyland and have to tell me what happens if someone doesn’t make it out of Space Mountain.

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