Like many felines, your Fluffy is a fussy eater.

She only dines on the freshest food, and if it’s the flavor she doesn’t like today, she’ll starve before she’ll take a bite. There are some days, in fact, that you can’t get her to sample one morsel which, you’ll see after you’ve read “Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs” by Caitlin Doughty, may be a very good thing.

As a mortician, funeral home owner, and writer, Doughty gets a lot of questions about death and dying and some of them are from kids. She’s “willing to answer strange questions” with answers that are sometimes just as strange.

Caitlin Doughty

Caitlin Doughty

What, for instance, would happen if you died while you were in space? Doughty answers with a few examples, saying that NASA doesn’t know – yet – but there are options, if that should ever happen. One of them is a long shot, but it’s a really cool possibility.

Maybe your family has Grandma’s ashes sitting in the living room. How ever did a whole human body fit inside that little urn? It’s a matter of physics, in a way: the human body is mostly made of liquids and fats that will evaporate in a super-hot crematorium. What’s left are “cremated remains” in “a thrilling combo of calcium phosphates, carbonates and minerals and salts.”

Will your body make a mess when you die? Says Doughty, there’s a good probability but you shouldn’t be embarrassed. Funeral home workers are used to cleaning up body fluids and preventing further “leakage” and such, so no worries.

'Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?'

Title: “Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals about Death”

Author: Caitlin Doughty

Publisher: c.2019, Norton, 222 pages

Cost:  $25.95

Learn what happens to the sibling when one conjoined twin dies. Read about why you can go ahead and make a face without worrying, but forget about eating popcorn before you’re cremated. Find out how American cemeteries differ from those in Germany, why you shouldn’t drink the water near a Civil War cemetery, and how you can become a plastic corpse in a traveling exhibit. And then take a seat.

People die in homes all the time, “more homes than you probably realize.” One of them could be yours…

The very first thing you need to know about “Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?” is that the sub-title could be misleading: it’s absolutely not a book for anyone “tiny.”

From tiny mortals, not for.

It would be easy to think otherwise: the questions are kiddish, author Caitlin Doughty’s answers are nudge-and-wink funny, and lighthearted drawings accompany each chapter. Read a little, though, and you’ll see that this book is really more for young adults, at least, and grown-ups, for sure, especially those who love dark laughs. Yes, there’s serious science here, but also cultural lessons in death and dying, a little history, and a touch of gruesomeness wrapped in that shroud of sharp, witty humor.

Readers who wonder what’ll happen to their mortal remains will find this book dead-on. If you’ve got a streak of Goth in you, you can’t miss it. When you want something different, read “Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?” and get food for thought.

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Terri Schlichenmeyer's book reviews appear in more than 260 publications in North America. She lives in Wisconsin.


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