Image: A black cat silhouetted against a red background. Text: "Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals about Death. Caitlin Doughty. Best-selling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."

KidLit Book Review: Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals about Death by Caitlin Doughty and Dianné Ruz


Every day, funeral director Caitlin Doughty receives dozens of questions about death. What would happen to an astronaut’s body if it were pushed out of a space shuttle? Do people poop when they die? Can Grandma have a Viking funeral?

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? And why do hair and nails appear longer after death? 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.


  • Title: Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death
  • Author: Caitlin Doughty
  • Illustrator: Dianné Ruz
  • Cover Artist: Dianné Ruz
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton Company
  • ISBN: 039365270X
  • Publication Date: September 10, 2019
  • Category: Adult, but suitable for Middle Grade and up
  • Spooky-Scary or Spooky-Fun? 🎃 Fun.

I’d like to thank W. W. Norton Company for providing a copy via Edelweiss+ in exchange for review consideration.


Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals about Death is a frank, hilarious, and respectful book that sets out to answer some of children’s most pressing questions about death. Author and mortician Caitlin Doughty has an engaging style, handling some highly creative and relatable queries about death with a refreshing blend of humor and honesty. An author after my own heart, Doughty treats her young audience with clear-eyed dignity and forthrightness, praising kids for their curiosity about death and their refusal to let socially mandated squeamishness get in the way of finding answers to dozens of questions like:

When I die, will my cat eat my eyeballs?
Can we give Grandma a Viking funeral?
Why do we turn colors when we die?
Can you describe the smell of a dead body?
If I died making a stupid face, would it be stuck like that forever?

The answers to each question are explained thoughtfully and scientifically, assuring that readers will walk away with a greater understanding and acceptance of what happens to people when they die. The humor is delightfully grim – “During the intense heat of the cremation, all of the soft, fleshy, organic parts of Dad burn away, going up the chimney like a reverse Santa Claus” – and Dianné Ruz’s brilliantly morbid illustrations enhance both the humorous and educational aspects of the book. Doughty sticks to science most of the time, rarely broaching philosophical or religious questions, but she does have some profound and comforting words for the reader: “The flames are the great equalizer.”


Death is a universal experience, and children are naturally curious about it. Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? is a wonderful way to answer some of their questions and reassure them that it’s okay to be inquisitive. Dedicated to “future corpses of all ages,” this book uses humor and science to demystify death and encourage kids and adults to strive for honesty and intellectual curiosity. We can always use more of that in the world, and this terrific book deserves a place in your library.


You have to love a kids’ book that deals with the legality of decorating with loved ones’ skulls. I give this book 4.5 out of 5 coffins.

4.5 Coffins


  1. My sister and I discussed this book last month for my Family Reads series. I didn’t think it was a book for kids while reading it (also, I picked it up in the adult non-fiction section of the library :P). I know Doughty says she’s answering questions from kids but the tone (not the content) of the book didn’t suggest ‘written for middle graders’ to me. Although I am sure there are many middle graders who would enjoy reading this!


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