Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?
By Caitlin Doughty
Caitlin Doughty is a mortician/funeral home director, and a YouTube content creator (but not the bad kind.) She posts videos about death – her channel is called “Ask a Mortician.” I’m not sure how the YouTube algorithm got me there, but one of Caitlin Doughty’s videos popped up on my recommended video list one day, and so I watched it. And then I proceeded to binge watch most of her videos that weekend. (That’s a LOT of videos.) No regrets. She talks about what happens after a body becomes a corpse, and branches out into death practices around the world, morbid mysteries, and iconic corpses. (If you’ve watched a lot of her videos, you’ll know why “Bentham’s head” is so funny!) She wants people to be more informed about death, and maybe even gain some of her death positivity. Not knowing about something makes it scary, and the more you know about a topic, hopefully the more comfortable you are with it, at least in theory.
I had also heard of and seen this particular book, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, and I had meant to pick it up and read it months ago. (Note – working in a library, this happens often!) So after my binge of her video content, I decided to see how Caitlin’s writing style held up. (Note – it is unsurprisingly very much like her videos.)
Now, this is a book that Caitlin wrote responding to questions about death that children had asked her in the past. With that being said, there are some interesting questions in there, but nothing too terribly scientific. I feel like Caitlin basically wrote down what she told the child, with a bit more explanation and research. The language is fairly conversational, gets to the point, and doesn’t oversimplify or overcomplicate. There are questions in the book that a lot of people may have considered: will my cat eat my eyeballs, what happens if someone dies in space, and can I keep a relative’s skull. (Probably not, it depends, and probably not legally at the moment, in the United States, at least.)
In my library and in others in my area, this book is shelved in the adult non-fiction section. (The 300’s in the Dewey system, and Forensics in my local library. Now I’m curious as to how many books we have in the Forensics section…) But if these questions are asked by children, should it be in the children’s section? What about the Young Adult section? I have a feeling that it might get more traction with teens than adults. Teens still ask questions, but some adults get more and more nervous about death the closer they come to it themselves. Most people are very hesitant about the subject of death with children. There has been research on when children start to understand the concept of death, and between the ages of 9 and 12, they start to really understand it. Death sucks, but it can also be understood and explored. So if you have a little one (or a not so little one, or even yourself) at home asking these questions, check out a book on the subject (this one, even!)
Also, special shoutout to the illustrator Dianné Ruz, because the illustrations are absolutely fantastic!
(This fulfills the 2021 CBR 13 Bingo square of “Fauna” because cat.)