Categories: buying cats

Rules on burying your companion animal USA

My research indicates that the rules regarding burying your pet in the USA may well come down to the specific requirements of the city in which you live. I’d check with the city administrators. I’d certainly start there. For instance, the rules regarding Los Angeles and Chicago is that it is illegal to bury pets in your backyard.

Cat burial. Photo: in public domain.

On the other hand, is highly likely that the vast majority of companion animal owners who want to bury their pet in their yard do it either in ignorance of the law or knowingly in breach of the law for the simple fact that these laws are almost impossible to enforce and are rarely enforced if ever.

There are practical issues with respect to burying a companion animal in the backyard. It may prove dangerous to wildlife unless you make the burial deep enough. In fact some authorities may specify how deep the grave should be. If you are following the law check the requirements for the depth of the grave. It might be as much as 5 feet. This is to avoid the body being dug up by a scavenger. And there lies another issue.

Cats and dogs are euthanised with a potent anaesthetic agent: pentobarbital. This persists in the buried body for up to a year I am told by a veterinary pathologist. If a scavenger digs up and eats the remains of a cat or dog which has been buried in a shallow grave they may be poisoned by the anaesthetic. Also, a deceased animal may have died because of a nasty disease and the disease may survive burial for a while and be transmitted to a scavenging animal.

Cat cremation urn. Photo: PoC.

The modern view is to cremate your companion animal. I would suggest a private cremation in order to ensure that you receive the ashes of your beloved animal and not ashes mixed with other animals. In America there apear to be three types of pet cremation: group, private and semi-private. The semi-private cremation is one in which a group of animals are cremated together but separated so they can provide you with your pet’s ashes. It depends how you feel about this at an emotional level. Personally, I go for the private cremation and I’m present throughout the entire time. It’s more expensive of course but you get peace of mind.

If you want to bury your companion animal the authorities where you live may well allow a burial in a designated area.

Apparently, most US states require that you bury your companion animal within 28 to 48 hours after the animal’s death. It is preferable not to bury your pet in a plastic bag because it takes a very long time for plastic to biodegrade. A biodegradable bag or box is better for the environment.

Although humans cannot be buried in a pet cemetery, in New York and New Jersey cremated human remains can be buried with their pets at a pet cemetery. I’m sure that in some local authorities a pet can be buried with their owner. Once again you have to check with the authorities and the cemetery.

Pet cemetery. Photo: PoC.

Normally, your companion animal will die before you. You can keep the ashes and then asked that the ashes be merged with yours when you are cremated. I’m sure that this is allowed pretty much everywhere but please check. You can ask your funeral director to organise this. In some US states people and animals can be buried together. For example, in Pennsylvania, my research indicates that the state allows cemeteries to have three sections: one for people, one for pets and an area for both. The state of Virginia also allows people and pets to be buried with each other as long as the animal was a companion of the person and they are placed in their own casket. Once again please check because this really is a jurisdiction by jurisdiction query.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

Recent Posts

Bug-eyed calico kitten’s hair strands remind me of Van Gogh’s brush strokes

Her name is Zinnia. There is a faint similarity of the brush strokes and the…

54 mins ago

A link between women’s love of cats and their concern for fairness and compassion?

There's a huge study out at the moment from the University of Southern California concerning…

5 hours ago

His childlike pet drawings have raised thousands for rough sleepers

You never quite know the formula for becoming an internet, social media sensation perhaps because…

9 hours ago

Woman isolated during lockdown with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome finds comfort in her cat companions

NEWS AND OPINION: It is a time to praise the domestic cat for comforting vulnerable…

11 hours ago

Cats Protection report that black cats are no longer being ‘left on the shelf’

Some good news for people who love cats, all kinds, no matter what their colour.…

11 hours ago

Is it normal for a cat to have one kitten?

I have to research this as I don't have first hand experience and my research…

1 day ago