Monday, September 28, 2015

Page 33: How Not To Dry a Cat

The “drying a pet in the microwave oven” urban legend is is one of the more cruel and horrible myths out there. Please please please DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!

The ubiquitous and world-famous "Grumpy Cat," Tardar Sauce.
Although the first commercial microwave oven was introduced in 1946, successful home models didn't arrive until 1967. They became popular in the 1970s and—ever since approximately 1976—tales have circulated about a witless little old lady (LOL) who attempted to use the appliance to dry her small pet: typically a poodle or cat, but other small animals are also sometimes victimized. The pet naturally dies from this abuse, and in some versions even explodes like a microwaved egg.

People who are cruel to animals suck. Take good care of your pets and love them.
[Image source: Terribly Cute.]
The legend itself actually predates the microwave oven by several generations, with the LOL attempting to dry her pet in her clothes dryer, oven, wood stove, etc. An early version involves the LOL bathing not a pet but her infant; she gets distracted and forgets the baby in the wash pan on top of the wood stove. Another variation involves a babysitter who is so high on drugs that she mistakes the baby for a pot roast and cooks it. Seems to me she’d have to pretty damn high.

Reflecting America’s litigious and sometimes frivolous nature, some variations of the microwaved pet story result in the LOL suing and winning a huge settlement because the manufacturer failed to put a warning label on their product. This version is so popular that a 2011 poll  reported that 74% of Americans and 78% of non-Americans believe the story to be true. This makes it one of the most prevalent urban legends in the world.

Given its prevalence and broad acceptance, it was a natural choice to sneak early into The Billionth Monkey. It didn’t serve to propel the plot, so I made it into surreal background activity for the scene on page 33. I imagined that the sight of a kitten emerging unscathed from a microwave would be adorable and hilarious. That being said, it doesn't work, and it's cruel…so DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME! Thank you.

For more reading, see Barbara Mikkelson, “The Microwaved Pet,”

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