Be wary of anyone who says ‘it’s just a cat’ because all cat owners know that this is not true. In fact, for most of us losing a feline friend is just as devastating as losing any other member of our family. Whether it’s the first cat you have lost or they are joining others over the rainbow bridge, it can be hard to know what to do immediately following their death. We’ve put together this guide to help you decide what to do when your cat dies.
If your cat dies at home
Whether it was expected or not, if your cat dies at home you are bound to be upset. If you can, find someone to help you deal with this as you may need both physical and emotional support. Death is not pleasant and decomposition begins quickly, so you will need to wrap your cats body. Use a blanket or towel and if you have some place some puppy pads under the body – you can also use plastic if you do not have any.
Once you have wrapped your cats body you need to place them somewhere cool until you are ready for the next step. If you choose to have your cat cremated you can usually take them to the crematorium yourself. Alternatively your vet may offer a disposal or cremation service.
If your cat dies at the vet
If your cat is put to sleep at the vets they will offer you the option to take them home for burial or use their contracted cremation service. Bear in mind that this may be a communal service that cremates many pets at the same time, and you will not get their ashes back. Ask lots of questions about the crematorium and the services they provide to make sure it’s the right place to look after your cats final journey. Read our blog ‘How to choose a pet crematorium’ or check out The Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria for information on what you should look out for.
Remember, you do not have to use the cremation service your vet is offering you. You can choose to use a private crematorium and either bring your cat in directly or have them collected from the vet practice.
Choosing burial or cremation
There are many different reasons people choose cremation over burial. It could be that they live in a flat without a garden, or because they intend to move house in the future and want to take their cats remains with them. Some people simply prefer to keep the ashes in their home where they can see them. Think about how these factors may affect you in the future before you decide whether to bury or cremate your cat.
If you do choose to bury your cat at home in your garden we do offer a choice of two coffins suitable for home burial.
What to do with your cats ashes
If you choose to have your cat cremated you will then need to decide what to do with their ashes. The main options are; storing them in an urn or casket in your home, or burying/scattering them outdoors. This may depend on the type of property or space you have, but will also come down to personal preference.
You can also transform your cats ashes into beautiful jewellery so you can keep a small part of them close to you at all times.
Paying tribute to your cat
There are so many different ways to pay tribute to your cat, and what you choose may depend on your cats personality or your personal preferences. It could be as simple as framing a favourite photo or as extravagant as holding a funeral, wake or even a celebration of their life. Maybe your cat had a favourite spot in your garden – if so why not place a memorial stone and a plant in their memory? This is something that can be done immediately following their death or years later, it’s totally up to you.
Support following the loss of your cat
As we have said, your cat was a member of your family and there is no shame in mourning their loss. Grief affects us all differently and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Try talking to those around you about how you are feeling, or if you need additional support consider contacting a pet bereavement support service.