What do I do if my cat dies at home?

The question in the title presupposes that your cat has, in fact, died but you should check if you are unsure as, for instance, you were out when she died. I think the best way to check is to find your cat’s pulse which you can detect by feeling the femoral artery in the groin. You feel along the inside of the thigh where the leg and body join and press lightly with your fingers until you can locate the pulse. If you can’t feel a pulse you might then check for a heart beat which you can listen for by placing your ear against your cat’s chest. The normal heartbeat is divided into two separate sounds. The sound is described as LUB-DUB.

Must be sure

If unsure make an urgent appointment with your vet and ask them to confirm death. This is important as there have been cases of cat owners burying their cat alive! True, because they mistakenly believed that they were dead. How did they find out that they had buried their cat alive? Because the cat dug themselves out of their graves!

Pet ashes urn
Urn for your cat’s ashes. This is for sale on https://www.etsy.com . It is a very nice one.
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Cause of death

If your cat has died, the next issue is to decide why your cat has died because normally you would know whether your cat is dying well before she dies. Something must have gone wrong and it could have been an accident, particularly if your cat is allowed outside or perhaps a poisoning. Neighbours sometimes poison cats and if you are in dispute with a neighbour about your cat wandering onto their property and you suspect that she has been poisoned I would have an autopsy (necropsy) carried out because you might want to instigate criminal proceedings against your neighbour. If you want to go down that difficult route I would call your veterinarian immediately and discuss it. You’ll need evidence for a successful prosecution and if an autopsy finds poison it would be good evidence provided you can match up the poison with the poison that was or is in your neighbour’s possession.

Time of death

You can more or less figure out when the death occurred by checking for rigor mortis, which usually appears between one and six hours after death and lasts for a few hours to several days.

“Dispose” or bury or cremate

The neext stage is a personal choice. You can “dispose” of your cat by asking your veterinarian to do it or you can bury your cat in the garden which is legal or my preference is for an individual cremation. You should contact your nearest pet crematorium and request an urgent individual cremation and enquire about the price. It will be considerably more expensive than a mixed cremation but I think it’s worth it because you can bring your cat’s ashes home and keep them. That may seem like sentimental mumbo-jumbo to some people but I find it comforting.

You will then drive your beloved, deceased cat to the crematorium and wait while it’s being done. I would supervise the process to make sure that everything is in order and that it is indeed an individual cremation. You will then come home, place your cat’s ashes on the mantelpiece, have a drink and remember her while shedding a tear.

Cause is an undetected illness

If you’re concerned about the cause of death and whether, for instance, it is due to an illness which went undetected then that may also be prompted you to seek veterinary assistance. It depends upon the cat owner as to what happens next in many instances. There’s only one common action that a cat caretaker can do and which applies to everybody which is that you either bury or cremate your cat after they’ve died and it should be as soon as possible.

Allow other cat companions to be involved?

P.S. It may be prudent and sensitive to ensure that in a multi-cat household the other animals are able to see your deceased cat and perhaps sniff her to allow them to come to terms with her passing. If I think of anything else to add to this list then I will amend the article as soon as I can. If you got any personal points to make, I would very much like you to comment.

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