What Do I Do When My Cat Dies?

The question, “What do I do my cat dies at home?” is answered here. You can see that I’ve added to the question “at home” because if a cat dies at a veterinary clinic the answer to the question will be answered by the veterinarian and his usual answer will be to cremate your cat and the clinic can make arrangements.

Cat's ashes

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

People ask the above question using Google and other search engines, which might surprise us because, without wishing to be critical, I think the answer is fairly straightforward. Nevertheless, I provide an answer.

I would have thought that a cat dying at home is probably rarer than a cat dying at a veterinary clinic and if a cat does die at home I hope he or she dies without distress and without too much discomfort and pain. In the modern world, a cat dying of old age will usually end up being euthanised at a veterinary clinic because of a terminal illness – or am I in correct in that assessment?

The answer to the question in the title depends partly on how much money the person has. Many people simply bury their cat at the bottom of the garden. This is satisfactory provided the grave is sufficiently deep to avoid foxes or other scavengers digging up the body. I’d suggest around 2 feet deep, at least. When burying in the garden the owner should decide how long under normal conditions do they intend to remain at their current address.

Other than the above, there will be differences as to what to do when your cat dies at home depending on the country where you live.

For me, living in Europe, the best way to deal with your recently deceased cat is to ring up your local pet crematorium (which you have researched beforehand) and ask for an individual cremation. You then drive your cat down to the crematorium and you watch your cat being cremated and then pay your fee. You collect your cat’s ashes at that time and then take them home. Then you know that you have your cat’s ashes with you. The alternative is simply take your cat to a crematorium and they will cremate your cat in a non-individualised way with other cats or dogs, I suspect, whereupon you can collect the ashes and perhaps take them home or do what you will with them.

An alternative to the above is to take your cat to your local veterinarian, who I hope you will know well, and ask him to deal with the cremation. Veterinarians work with pet crematoria and I would expect the clinic to be happy to assist and that their fee would be relatively modest. You collect the ashes from the vet and take them home.

I believe in keeping the ashes in a suitable container in the house or apartment. They are a nice reminder of good times past. It is also a way of being respectful and loving towards your cat companion. Also a person can get some comfort from having the remains nearby.

These are the ways that you should deal with your cat if he or she dies at home. If anybody has a better idea then please leave a comment.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

23 thoughts on “What Do I Do When My Cat Dies?”

  1. I have been very fortunate over the years. My pets were all buried, either on the property where we lived or on family property. If they were not laid to rest under a tree or bush, I planted something over them, usually a flowering plant. Many of them were left behind as we moved over the years, but they have become a part of something bigger and more beautiful.

  2. Sandra Murphey, No. CA, USA

    This is an option I would consider that would actually use the ashes to nurture new growth:

    An eco-friendly urn that lets you use your own ashes – or maybe those of your (pets) friends or family – to grow a tree can now be bought online.

    The urn in question is dubbed the Bios Urn, and it is entirely biodegradable. It comprises two compartments, i.e. one that stores the ashes of one person or another, perhaps even a beloved pet, and one that serves as a home to plant seeds and soil.

    According to the Bios Urn’s makers, the urn, which presently sells for €75 ($103), comes with pine tree seeds. The good news is that, in case anyone has a bone to pick with such trees and would not be caught dead helping one grow, the seeds can be replaced with ones originating from any other plant or tree.

    After the right seeds are placed in the top compartment and the ashes in the lower one, the Bios Urn need only be buried. In time, the seeds will grow into plants or trees, and the urn and the ashes will become part of the soil, Tree Hugger Informs.

    The Bios Urn is now in production, can be bought online for €75 ($103)

  3. Sandra Murphey, No. CA, USA

    I’m wondering if people who visit graves would be those likely to keep pet’s ashes. My mom has lost two husbands, and “visits” them at their grave sites. She believes in heaven and hell, so I’m sure that she really believes they’re in heaven. So, who is she visiting? Not them, but the very expensive buried casket that may still have the remains of their bones. It’s very interesting what we tell ourselves to feel better about many things. Death is one of those things.

    How do readers feel about cloning their pets if expense was no object? Michael, you may want to start a new thread….

  4. Dear DEE- ” Dust to Dust ”
    Yesterday I received a call from a close friend whose gran-daughters pet cat had to be put down due to fibroids and a blood clot which paralyzed his back legs and he became incontinent He was nine. My friends contact me because vets are expensive & I have a graveyard for cats and keep plastic flowers and keep the area trimmed and sometimes will write a poem to recite for them.
    We have five laid to rest there as of yesterday June 12th’2015. They are so grateful. Eva

  5. Several of my cats have died at home as well at a clinic.
    I have a strong belief that they should give back to the earth by renourishing, ie, “dust to dust”. I think that they believe the same. Why else would any cat just “go off” to die or a strictly indoor dying cat beg to go out at the door? If we have heart, we should let them go. Not our call, but theirs.

    I have no criticism for those who may want to keep their beloved cat remains in a box, but I really can’t understand. Is it our own selfish and delusional idea that they are still with us? They aren’t.

    And, what will happen to the much loved remains when we are gone? Who will care? They’ll end up in the big landfill. I would rather have a buried cat than one whose remains will be tossed atop garbage.

    1. Dee, we can agree to disagree on this. It does bring me comfort to have Angel’s ashes around. I believe my cats would rather be around me, even after death. In all my years I have never had a dying indoor cat (and they were all indoor cats, every one) beg to go outside. On her last day Angel hung on until I came home from work and then she died.

      And after she passed over Angel came back to check on me. I don’t drink or do drugs. Months later I was sitting in my computer room watching Cujo, Angel’s replacement, as she played with her toy mouse in the corner of the room. There was a white plastic grocery bag on the floor nearby. While Angel was alive I had to switch to cloth bags because she would eat the plastic handles. She had pica.

      The bag rattled by itself. Then it happened again. It wasn’t Cujo. She was in the corner three feet away. The windows in that room were closed. No moving air. I immediately knew it was Angel, because whenever she wanted to get my attention she would meddle with something to get my attention, and then she’d do it again. That was her way of saying: “Hey, here I am. Did you see what I did?” I called out her name and asked her how she was doing. She rattled the bag again. Afterwards I picked up the bag. It was empty.

      After I die I won’t care where Angel or Samirah’s ashes will be, because I’ll be up in Heaven with them.
      I rent, and there is no way I would bury a beloved companion of mine in a rented backyard only to leave them behind when I moved away. In this life, where I go, they go. I left the disposal of my other cats’ remains to the vet after they were put down, and I regret doing that.

      1. Serbella, I am a believer about what you had to say about Angel. I’ve experienced that multiple times too, which reminds me that they aren’t in the ground, in an urn, or in the landfill. So, I guess that they don’t care where their shells are. Their souls are in flight.
        Whatever we choose to do with the remains of our beloved cats is personal. No right or wrong.
        It’s just that I want to believe that my precious ones are “free” and would know that I would never confine them.

        1. To each her own, Dee. We’ve had different experiences, that’s all. My cats, even when they were dying, wanted to be around me. I don’t think they care about their ashes or earthly remains. A human does, but they don’t.

    2. Keeping the ashes is about self-interest. It is pandering to one’s emotions but it makes me feel better. That is about the sum total of it.

      For me there is something that remains in the ashes. The memory of my cat and a connection with her life.

  6. J., my condolences on the loss of your family, Shadow and the rest of your animal companions.

    I had Angel cremated after she died. I put her ashes in a cute photo cube that looks exactly like a country cottage. Before I sealed the top with super glue I inserted photos of her on all four sides and I put her favorite cloth toy in there with her too. My main regret is that I didn’t think of cremation for my other feline companions. When Samirah passes to the Rainbow Bridge I will have her cremated and lay her ashes to rest in this, the Bastet Large Bronze Canopic Jar.

    1. Sandra Murphey, No. CA, USA

      What an exquisite jar!

      I don’t keep ashes from people or animals who’ve died. It doesn’t do anything for me, or for the dead. But this may be uncommon.

      I’d prefer to bury my cat, but I don’t own the property, so I might ask a friend who has land.

      We know what happens to euthanized pets at vet clinics if we don’t pay extra for individual ashes or those in common with other animals. They end up as pet food. Not a pleasant thought, but as ashes or pet food, the dead animal no longer feels. The physical life cycle is complete, unless they come back in another form.

      1. Thanks, Sandra! I think to each his or her own in this matter. I would rather have them with me. I rent. I could have buried my animals in the back yard, but the last place I lived in there was a dog on the property that loved to dig. If I had buried Coyote out there and that mangy mutt dug him up I would reacted badly. Very badly.

      2. I agree. I can’t disagree. I keep the ashes for me, because I feel better. It is a personal thing. There is no DNA left of the cat in ashes. It is just about emotion.

      1. Thanks, Michael! I bought that urn years ago, just because I liked the look. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I could use it as a pet memorial.

    2. Thank you to Michael & S. McGee… That urn is beautiful!!!! Your fur angel..will be happy to be laid to rest in this when they pass.

  7. I still have my little guy’s remains. He was cremated (taken care of through the emergency vet clinic I had taken him to). Every morning (usually); I will say the pet bereavement poems that I have, softly to him. I do it to honor his memory..because I still miss him so and I loved him. I kept his collar and had his paw print & name done on a oval casting. I would do this for any pet I had. But..I have not yet gotten another fur angel companion. Shadow went to Rainbow Bridge on Mar 8/13.

    1. I am exactly the same as you. I have my cats’ ashes with me in the living room. They are there close to me for the rest of my life. You have a beautifully tender love for your little guy.

      1. Thanks Michael!!! He originally belonged to my brother Gary..who gave him to my mom (I lived with my mom). She loved him so much and when my mom passed away; I couldn’t bare to see anything bad happen to him, so I took him. I had him until I had to let him go.
        I still grief for all that I have lost. The first pets I grew up with (dogs: Blackie & Junior…they didn’t belong to me tho). Then another dog (Marlowe). He was mine!!! My dad (who passed away Mar 17/86), my grandma who passed Jan 5/00, my mom who passed Jul 22/04… and now another loss just recently. My brother Brian who passed away suddenly Jun 11 (he had just turned 55 on Jun 6th) of a massive heart attack. I’m the youngest off 11 and this is my first sibling to pass away. Each time I loss something or someone I care for…a piece of my heart goes too 🙁

        1. You have been through a lot. Thus far I have only lost my parents and of course my grandparents. My siblings (sister and brother) are alive. My neighbors are dying though!

          I hate to say it but losing my cat buddies hurt more than losing my parents. Quite a lot more actually. I wonder what that makes me 😉 .

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