People want to know what happens when a cat dies. In principle what happens when cat dies is the same as what happens after a human dies in terms of whether the cat is cremated or buried. In terms of whether there is an afterlife, this is a matter of belief.
I am positive that cats do not believe in the afterlife. However, very many cat owners will believe in the afterlife. They believe that a cat who has recently died goes over the rainbow bridge to a better place to meet her deceased owner or to await that meeting in the future. Therefore what happens when a cat dies in the long term might be that the cat has an afterlife if you believe it.
As for cremation, I would recommend an individual cremation which you watch to make sure that it is genuinely individualized. I think it wise to watch the entire process. Your veterinarian may have euthanized your cat because of chronic and terminal illness. You will then take your cat immediately to a pet cremation business having previously made arrangements for an individual cremation. You will watch and wait while the cremation takes place and then take your cat’s ashes home.
Alternatively you can ask your veterinarian to make arrangements to have your cat cremated. This would probably be a multiple cremation where animals are mixed together. Your veterinarian will arrange for this and call you when the ashes are ready for collection. The charge is much less than for an individualized cremation; around £40 in the UK. An individual cremation in the UK costs around £150.
A further alternative is to bury your cat in your back garden. You might have to make sure that this is acceptable to your local authority. It probably is. The grave should be about 3 feet deep if possible with a large flag stone over the top to avoid predators such as foxes digging up the remains of your cat which is distressing. This, regrettably, happened to me when I was less well-informed many years ago. I had her remains exhumed. I had them cremated and now have her ashes are at home.
Alternatively there are businesses where they cremate cats and allow you to bury your cat in the grounds. Of all the above, I am sure that cremation on a non-individualized basis is the most common.
I have read that if the cremation is done properly and your cat is entirely reduced to ashes, there is no DNA of your cat left. To reiterate, the ashes do not contain your cat’s DNA. Therefore there is no physical trace of your cat. However, if there are bone fragments and suchlike among the ashes then there will be some DNA. I think that’s quite comforting.
The last stage in this process would be to decide what to do the ashes. Many people, and I am one of those, have their cats’ ashes in an urn in their home. I have the ashes of my cats in an urn in my living room. That might sound macabre but it is not. It is comforting to me and it feels natural.
Conversion of Ashes
There are businesses which convert ashes into personal accessories such as necklaces so that you can wear your deceased cat on your person. You can look this up on the Internet. They compress the ashes down so that they look like jewellery. Or the ashes are colored and placed in resin (see picture).
When I die I have instructed my executors to have my body cremated and the ashes placed with the ashes of my cats and then the entirety of the ashes to be released in the Himalayas where the magnificent snow leopard roams and where I can, in spirit, be with this representative of the true nature of the cat on this planet: wild and free. If I were to be buried I’d have my cats’ ashes buried with me which should be permissible.