Reading How to Talk to Your Cat About Gun Safety is a lot like reading an article in the Onion. You get a few chuckles out of the content, but the biggest joke is the headline. Of course, How to Talk to Your Cat About Gun Safety also includes photos of cats being cute and doing ridiculous things like cleaning their rifle or wearing a sombrero, so that’s a big plus!
I’m sure the astute readers of this site will realize right away that this book is a parody, but I’m stating that clearly since at least a couple of people on Goodreads and Amazon think it’s hateful rhetoric put out by the alt-right. I understand it’s hard to tell the difference these days between news and satire, but I’m still stunned that there are people who believe a book featuring a photo of giant birds sitting behind the President’s desk in the Oval Office is to be taken seriously.
Nevertheless, this book is a welcome addition to any home that includes a cat who needs to be educated not just about gun safety, but also about other dangers like evolution, pre-marital sex, the internet, drugs, puberty, the apocalypse, and, of course, Satanism.
As I said, this book is good for some chuckles as long as you don’t think too hard about the fact that someone, somewhere is using the same or similar arguments to support their beliefs. For example, on gun safety: “Of course your cat should have access to all the weaponry our Founding Fathers risked their lives to guarantee us, whether it be a simple Beretta 9mm or a fully automatic AK-47.” On evolution: “There are two kinds of evolution: small evolution, which we can see in the world around us, and big evolution, which is a myth spread by cowards who wish to destroy America.” On teaching your cat about sex: “Abstinence is committed to eliminating the dangers of premarital sex, whereas contraception-focused sex education tries only to reduce it. This is like teaching your cat to smoke light cigarettes instead of regular ones. Are you comfortable taking that kind of risk with your cat?”
I have to admit that some of the funniest lines do play on hateful rhetoric, so if you are the type to be offended by stereotyping even when it is used satirically, you probably won’t appreciate the humor. For example, in the section on online safety, the author observes that “Not having antivirus software on your computer is as reckless as not owning a machine gun to protect your home against burglars or jihadists.” Or, in the section on Satanism, the author refers to Wicca as “watered down Satanism, luring foolish young women with liberal arts degrees into lesbian covens where they worship a goddess and their menses.” And the photos of different cat breeds–well, I’ll let you imagine the various headgear. (The Russian blue in the Cossack hat is probably the least offensive!)
One harmless line of humor that I found irritating is the non-stop use of puns. I understand that the author is making fun of cutesy websites that describe anything cat-related as purrfect, but they kept that joke up for so long it was like beating a dead cat (terrible): catnip purrponents; the meowllennial generation; cats going to purrgatory would be a calamewty; these puns were like claws on a chalkboard and made me furrious.
This is pretty much a one-joke book, the joke being that we can make minor changes to extreme conservative values and apply them to something completely silly like talking to your cat about the dangers of catnip. It’s a fun joke gift (which is how I got it) that you can use either to amuse your liberal friends or piss of your conservative friends. The choice is yours!