Discussion: Will your cats be euthanized when you die so you can be buried together?

Note from Elisa: This article was originally posted July 2, 2017. Since the stresses of being a veterinarian article had so much response from veterinarians, I wanted to publish it so it can be considered as one issue veterinarians may face, as many cat owners plan to have their cats euthanized at the time of their death so they can be buried together.

Take a look at this sweet face. This beautiful cat, up for adoption in the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina area, sparked some thought-provoking comments several days ago when cat rescuer Daren Watson posted this sweetheart on Facebook. (Since this is an old post this cat most likely has gone to a forever home so this article doesn’t need sharing for that reason)

Myrtle Beach cat was the inspiration for this article
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Daren put out the plea for a forever home June 28 saying

“People you need to put in writing and in your will exactly what you want doing with your pets when you die. Do not trust your family to do the right thing. This four-year-old declawed and spayed female is now on death row. The owner’s children cannot be bothered with the thing their mother loved the most they are too busy Scavenging the house to take care of her cat. Don’t let this be a death sentence for this poor cat period if you know anyone looking for a declawed cat here she is I will get her out if you can commit to her. Myrtle Beach South Carolina area 843 455 6199.”

The post started a conversation on what cat owners have planned for their cats when the owner dies. Some have plans put in place to care for their cats. But many, many owners plan to have their cats euthanized (killed) so they can have the ashes buried with them. Those being cremated want the ashes mixed before scattering and one cat owner wants the mingled ashes to be used in the planting of a tree.

The argument is the cat could face a fate worse than death when the owner passes away. There are worse things than a cat being put down for this type of thing, especially if the owner has no one they can trust to carry out their final wishes.

The thought of a beloved cat being taken to a shelter or being kicked out by a family member who just doesn’t want to honor what the person wanted for their cat, should the inevitable happen, is just too much to bear.

I’m going to end this article here and let the discussion begin. Do you agree with this logic? Please sound off in the comments.

Anyone who wishes to adopt this beautiful cat in the article photo should contact Daren. She pulled this poor girl from a high-kill Myrtle Beach shelter and a new home is needed.


I apologize for using the term “killed” but euthanasia is putting a cat out of it’s misery for health issues. These cats may still be healthy when they join their owner in death.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

29 thoughts on “Discussion: Will your cats be euthanized when you die so you can be buried together?”

  1. My will states that when I die, my cat Mitzy will be euthanized. My only family is two sons. One wouldn’t take my cat, and the other already has a cat, who’s very aggressive. All of my few friends already have cats, or don’t want them due to allergies.

    Mitzy was deemed “unadoptable”, and scheduled for euthanasia 8 years ago. She was a semi-feral, and very fearful of people. In spite of living with a woman who had a cat hating dog, I stepped up to adopt Mitzy from the shelter I worked at, a day before she was scheduled to be killed.

    I kept her in my room, and away from the dog, with a baby gate, and then trained her to a halter and leash.

    She’s still very fearful of most people. I would rather see her dead than suffer in a shelter, only to be labeled “unadoptable” once again.

    I’m a caring, unselfish cat advocate, who stands by my belief that death isn’t the worst fate for any of us, and the reason many people would like to be able to choose it for themselves, rather than suffer needlessly.

    My choice will protect Mitzy from unnecessary suffering.

  2. I have NO ONE who would take and look after my ten cats when I die. I will die alone, with no one trusted to care for them. They would likely wind up being tossed out or taken to a shelter. Three of my boys are special needs. God forbid that my 19 year old outlives me, as no one can do what I do for her, they wouldn’t know how. I have no money to leave behind for their care. Two family who give a crap, one of which is my 80 year old Mom, and she would not take any, it’s too much for her. The other is a cousin with health issues and pets of his own, his family can’t take on mine. I wouldn’t even know who might help find them homes. I have thought about this topic at length and need to make a will. I plan on my own body being cremated, and all my pets that have gone before me have been cremated. I want them with me. I am not sure what is right. I know that someone discarding them or dumping them to die at a shelter is not what I want. I’d rather take them with me than see that happen. And don’t even think to tell me I’m wrong,l you aren’t me and you aren’t in my situation so you have no room to judge.

    1. Kylie, our situations are similar, and I support your decision
      to euthanize as a means to spare your cats from needless suffering.

  3. Elisa Black-Taylor

    And be sure it’s a document meant to be opened upon your death. Wills take awhile to process and may be to late to see your wishes carried out, whatever they are for your cats.

  4. All of my personal research shows that unless you have that one in a million friend that can take in your pets along with their own finding a rescue that has provisions for older pets and will help rehome or give them a home in their rescue for life and appointing an executor to see that it’s carried out is the best way. Your cats will go to a rescue and someone you trust will not be saddled with your pets but only asked to make sure that your wishes are carried out.

    1. That’s is certainly the normal route and the route I have taken. For me very rarely is it necessary to kill your cats on one’s death.

  5. The sane rescuers do think of that as they get older and try to get their numbers down but that is in thinking they will live to a ripe old age of xx. But how often does life cooperate? A plan needs to be in place well before that.

    1. I agree that good long-term preparation is perhaps the best way to avoid euthanising cats on a person’s death.

  6. Unfortunately, as evident by our rescue email inbox, it is not almost always possible to find someone to care for your cats. Imagine this, if each of your family and friends asked you to care for their pet when they died, could you do it? It is especially difficult for those of us in rescue with hard to place cats due to temperament or health issues or age. I plan to set aside money to ensure mine are taken care of but that is still no guarantee.

    1. I agree that there is never any guarantee under these circumstances but I still believe this route is better than deciding to euthanise your cats on your death. The latter is a complete acceptance of failure whereas the former at least allows the opportunity for success.

  7. I have this feeling, correctly or incorrectly, that insisting that your cat is euthanised when you die is driven by selfishness. It is like taking your possessions with you somewhat like the Pharoahs did and not letting anyone else have your possessions. I’m not sure that it is about cat welfare. I think it is wrong to presume that your cat will receive poor welfare after you have died.

    1. I agree with you Michael. I think it is an act more of selfishness. What if my spouse passes before me, and should he say, well, he’s not around to take care of me any more, I may as well be put down and go with him? I would object! I am certain our animal companions would also object, if they were allowed to choose.

      1. Also, I think this should be illegal. Killing a healthy animal to take with us when we die only devalues them to the point of an inanimate possession. We have so much difficulty trying to put laws into place to protect animals from cruelty and abuse, to get stiffer penalties for the crimes against them, and part of this is due to how we define them. Are they possessions or are they family? This idea of killing a family member to take to the grave with you just flies contrary to everything we want to protect them from in life. How can we expect our laws to evolve to protect animals as family when we want to retain the right to devalue them to the status of a toaster when we so choose? It’s a step backwards.

      2. HEALTHY animals ARE KILLED every day all across the globe!!!
        Being the last of my line I’m gonna take my furfolk with me when i go….

    2. Geneva Lawrence

      Certainly not true in my case. Actually laughable. It’s a cold hard fact, no one is going to step forward to adopt my family. They have been through the adoption event trauma several times when they were young to no avail. Some have medical issues and some are partially feral. They have never lived outdoors and I don’t intend on that happening to them. I have rescued and found good homes for many cats in my lifetime and have never gone back on my promise of a better life once I rescued one. These are what no one else wanted.

          1. Is it possible to gradually wind down the number of cats that you care for from now until you’re passing? At 73 you should have a number of years left to allow you to reduce the number of cats that you look after. That may be impractical and the suggestion may be incorrect or even impolite but it is something which comes to my mind as a way to avoid having cats euthanised on a person’s death.

      1. Elisa Black-Taylor

        And we see so many senior cats shut down and die in a shelter environment. It’s heartbreaking.

    3. I think it’s probably better to make sure the person you want to entrust their welfare to will be willing to make those decisions based on the individual cats.

  8. We specifically excluded all the cruddy animal abusers by name , I had a blast writing out why they were unfit to touch our pets and why we wouldn’t leave them so much as a dime. It’s not as complicated as you might think but make sure you exclude anyone who could make a legal claim. Hopefully our pets will pass before we do. After this bunch we would only consider fostering.

    1. I am surprised that you think that some people might make a claim on your cats. Perhaps they are beautiful purebred cats. I don’t know what sort of cats you look after. I know that none of my relatives would make a claim on my cat when I die but I don’t know any cruddy relatives and the sort of cat that I have would not warrant a claim despite the fact that I love him tremendously 😉

      1. I meant legal claim on the estate, insurance money. Not all states recognize the right of the pet owner to leave their own money to their own pets.

        1. You can make provision in a Will for your cat(s) to be cared for. If you have a lot of money you could in theory have your cats cared for for the rest of their lives. There may be legal complexities however.

          1. Elisa, I pretty much ignored your Q. My question is this: why don’t cats have addictions like us? I’m an alcoholic and I’m also addicted to waxy-covered mini donuts. Do they have addictions? Love you, my goddess.

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