Are Those Your Cat’s Ashes and Does It Matter?

There is an interesting story in the newspapers today about pet cremations; a subject which has always concerned me. When I have my deceased cat cremated I make sure that I see her/him go into the oven and that (s)he is the only cat in the oven and removed from the oven which all sounds macabre and it is tough emotionally but it is one way of ensuring that the ashes that you keep at your home for the remainder of your life are those of your dear, departed cat companion. It is more expensive but I can’t see the point in having a cremation and keeping the ashes unless you know for sure that the ashes are certainly hers/his.

Urn for the ashes of a lost companion cat
I know that the ashes of my dearly beloved cats are in this casket
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

In the UK the owner of a pet crematorium cheated customers by taking their pets including cats and dogs for cremation but returning to them the ashes of any animal (assuming that they were ashes of animals and not of some other object). In short, the pet owners were taking home any old ashes from an unknown source. I wonder how often this happens both in respect of pets and humans?

Alan McMasters, 52, a sole trader, got out of his depth if we are to be generous towards to him. At one time he was only cremating horses, a specialist service. Then he appears to have extended his service to include cats and dogs and other pets and in time found that he was taking in too many which may be one reason why he ended up defrauding his customers.

He was caught by trading standards officers with chest freezers full of dead pets at his Pit Pet Crematorium in Gnosall, Staffordshire. The officers found plastic bin liners and cement bags full of ashes. It seems that he was throwing away the bodies of the pets and delivering ashes from other sources to customers but I’m guessing that. Perhaps he was trying to save on gas for the burners. It takes 12 hours to cremate a horse.

McMasters admitted five charges of fraud of “knowingly returning the wrong ashes to clients”. He also admitted charges of failing to comply with animal bi-product regulations.

Some of his customers were returners. They employed McMasters to cremate their pets over a long period of time and of course they are now wondering whether the ashes that they have at home have any connection whatsoever to their beloved, deceased pet.

In the title to this article I asked whether it matters. That might sound callous. Obviously, it does matter on an emotional level. But on a physical or scientific level it doesn’t because there are no DNA properties left in the ashes of the deceased cat. There is no physical connection in the ashes that you have from the crematorium to the living cat that you loved. Perhaps that does not matter because, as mentioned, it is an emotional connection. Perhaps this is served by simply knowing that the ashes are from your cat even if all ashes are all the same.

McMasters was convicted and ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service under a 12 month community order and ordered to pay £6,435 in costs and compensation including £500 to each of four known victims of his fraud. He has been allowed to reopen his pet crematorium which I find surprising but his licence was restored because he has improved his premises and his methods.

9 thoughts on “Are Those Your Cat’s Ashes and Does It Matter?”

  1. I just started doing research on this topic of pet’s ashes. And there’s a whole lot going on in this industry, yes, it’s a commercial venture in which a lot of money is made by those who know how to capitalize on it.

    Gemstones, diamonds, and other items can be made from ashes. Wouldn’t it be nice to really “re-purpose” those beloved ashes, rather than letting them sit on the shelf for years?

    And what an unusual gift for a friend or loved one who’s lost their beloved pet.

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  2. Many pet lovers may see me as uncaring, callous, and detached, but once the spirit energy of my cat has departed, the remaining physical part holds no emotional attachment for me. Keeping physical reminders, such as ashes, have no meaning for me. If the ashes sit on a shelf somewhere, how does that affect the guardian? Do people have yearly rituals on the anniversary of the death? Do they talk to the ashes, like people do at grave sites? I also have never visited a grave site.

    Are the ashes considered as valuable as expensive jewelry or other items? Would one give up those things before surrendering ashes? Would people defend the ashes?

    Actually I feel the same way about my own ashes. I have no special desire for those to be kept in a special container, or tossed in nature somewhere. The energy of who I was will be on a new journey, and may even take on a new physical form.

    This is a conversation I’ve never had, and one that I think most people wouldn’t want to get into.

    The more I age, the less sentiment I have. The years bring many opportunities to let go of physical and emotional attachments.

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      • I feel the same way and have wondered if there was something wrong with me. After I am gone they can toss me in a landfill. I don’t care. I will carry my pets memories in my heart forever.

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        • I understand that completely. It is a complicated topic because there is this emotional context and even though the ashes could just as well be the ashes of anything, emotionally it is reassuring to have them.

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  3. Michael, very interesting story. Being that I have my cats cremated, this peaked my interest! That very thought has crossed my mind. But being that I do take the cats to a VERY reputable place, I truly don’t believe the funeral home would do that. Yes, where I take my cats is also a human funeral home/crematory — Renpek is the anipal part – Kepner is the human part. They are truly pawsome folks there and have always taken GREAT care of me — and my kitties. I have taken all but my very first cat to them, and plan on being serviced by them when I pass>>and my cats’ cremains will all be buried with me (that was my Mom’s original idea).

    I’m glad this person was found out, but I wonder if anyone would trust him ever again to take their pets to him. Personally, I think he should have had to serve some jail time, but at least he had to pay restitution to the people involved.

    Excellent post, Michael. . . ♥♥♥

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  4. I have a couple of my cats ashes , the rest of my cats (3 of them) i buried in a place that is special only to me and free of human and other animals traffic.
    With the two other cats that i had creamated, i could not emotionaly bare the sight of them going into the oven so i did not watch..i payed extra money to have them cremated alone..i hope it’s really their ashes because when i die , they will be buried with me…

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