Sunday 13 February 2022

What can I do if my cat dies at home?

The way I see it, you can do one of 3 things in terms of burial or cremation. However, before you deal with that it makes sense, I think, to spend a short some time with your cat and grieve over him or her. These are the last moment that you will be with your cat companion. 

Urn for your cat's ashes. This is for sale on . It is a very nice one.
Urn for your cat's ashes. This is for sale on . It is a very nice one.

There is a caveat here. Rabies still exists in America albeit rarely. It is possible it seems to me to get rabies from a deceased cat. Apparently, the virus remains alive inside a deceased animal for 48 hours. That possibility should be observed but this is going to be a very rare occurrence because rabies is rare and the virus is normally injected into a person via a bite. Although irrelevant to this discussion I remember a Vietnamese guy eating the brains of a monkey or dog and getting rabies. A bit mad anyway to eat the brains of a dog but I think it is a cultural thing.

Nearly all diseases affecting cats are not zoonotic which means they can't be transferred from cat to human. I'm just making a small point for the sake of completeness.

Veterinarian arranged cremation

You can take your cat to your veterinarian and ask them to make arrangements for your cat to be cremated. They will probably charge a fairly modest fee. This takes away the hassle of making these arrangements. It's convenient. The downside, as I see it, is that the ashes that you receive might not be the ashes of your cat. This is because the pet crematorium may cremate several animals at one time. Not that this should be a huge worry because all traces of DNA are removed from the animal when they are properly cremated.

Individualised cremation

A better option, if you want to go down the route of cremation, would be to telephone your local pet crematorium and make arrangements for a private cremation. You take your cat to the crematorium, meet with an individual, and they will walk you through the process. You can watch your cat been cremated and receive the ashes while you wait. It is a while-you-wait process, essentially. And it should be because you want to make sure that it is a genuine individual cremation. It needs to be supervised in my opinion.

Backyard (back garden) burial

A third option is to bury your cat in your backyard or back garden (in the UK). In the UK it is perfectly legal to bury your cat in the back garden. You do not need permission for this. Just make sure that you bury him or her deep enough to avoid foxes sniffing around and digging up the body of your cat. About 3 feet should do. You might place some stones over the top or bricks is to make sure.

In the USA it isn't quite as straightforward. There are 50 states in the USA and although the vast majority allow you to bury your cat in the backyard, there are exceptions. My research indicates that: Arkansas, Vermont, Wisconsin, urban California and most of cities of Arizona do not allow people to bury their cat in the backyard. However, I can't completely trust this information and therefore for the sake of certainty it is probably advisable to telephone the local authority just to make sure you're receiving the right advice.

If it is illegal to bury your cat in the backyard, but want to bury your cat, you could make arrangements with a pet cemetery/pet crematorium to bury your cat at their facility.

Preferred option

The preferred option, I believe, must be an individualised cremation as mentioned. You can then bring your cat's ashes home and keep them there. I find this emotionally supportive. It is about emotion and not reality because as mentioned the ashes do not contain the DNA of your cat. They could be the ashes of an armchair in terms of hard science. But that doesn't matter. You arranged an individualised cremation and these are the ashes that you received. They represent your cat. It works for me.

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