When a pet dies, what do you do with it?

Updated Oct 12 2015

This is Nelly. She is my studio cat, my house cat, my friend, and the best cat. She just turned eight, and so we hope she has many good years left in her, but Nelly's time will come. I've had many pets die — fish, birds, mice, dogs, kittens, cats, and even a horse — but animal burial was my dad's job. When Nelly finally goes to the great sunny windowsill in the sky, it will be our job to decide what to do with our most-beloved Little Miss. Our cheesebelly. Our Nelly-belly. For the first time ever, I will be a grown up with a dead family pet.

In preparation of the sad time that a pet dies, let's talk about how to take care of your friend's final arrangements. But first, everyone has to do me a favor:

My mother-in-law is more superstitious than I, and she has a habit of touching her nose with her index finger once or twice when she talks about a negative hypothetical. As in, "If something happens to you on this trip, [nose tap], we should know where your important documents are." It's her way of say, "God forbid!" It would make me feel much better if we all do a nose tap while reading this post. Okay. Let's go.


Simple, traditional, culturally meaningful — burial is a great choice if you have a home and a bit of land. Things to consider when burying a pet:

  • Before you do anything, call your local utilities office to come mark your yard. The last thing you want to do is break a gas line with your shovel.
  • Wrap your pet in a cotton cloth. If she had a favorite blanket, maybe it would do the job.
  • If your pet is small, place her inside a cardboard box. If you have the heart and the desire, you might decorate it. Consider whether you'd like to add a favorite toy.
  • Dig deep. Make the grave at least three feet deep to prevent smells or scavenger intrusions.
  • Prepare a few words. If you haven't already said goodbye to your pet, let him know how much he means to you and how much you will miss him. Wrap up by remembering something you loved about your pet.
  • Mark the grave: You might place paving stones, plant a tree, buy a marker, or devise another sort of memorial for your pet.

Problems you might encounter in burying your pet:

  • It's winter. The common advice is to put your pet in the freezer if he dies when the ground is frozen. …I don't know if I could deal with that, and your pet may simply be too large. In this case you might consider one of the alternatives.
  • You live in an apartment. I once had a conversation about what I'd do with a dead pet if I still lived in an apartment. We actually talked about sneaking into a park and burying said hypothetical pet, but I don't know that I'd actually recommend that.


Veterinarians can give you a reference for a pet cremation service. Things to think about when it comes to cremation:

  • If it's important to you, ask about individual cremation. It will cost more, but you will know you're getting back your pet, not a mixture of animals.
  • Consider what you will do with the ashes. If you're not the type to hang on to ashes, you might sprinkle them in a favorite park, outside a window your cat enjoyed, or over a new planting in your pet's honor.
  • If you want to keep the ashes, there are many urns available — even in the form of wearable lockets.


The Observatory is a store in Brooklyn which offers mummification classes using actual animals. They say nothing about pets, but I have to wonder if you might be able to take the class and preserve your dearly departed. On one hand, I'd have to cut open someone I loved, but on the other… that would be a pretty amazing way to remember a pet.

Pet Cemetery

Growing up, my neighbors up the road ran a pet cemetery. Fun fact: amputated human body parts are often buried in them, as well!

Pet cemeteries are pretty easy to find with the old Google. They are especially good choices for very large companions, though Loving Rest, one of the cemeteries in my city, offers burial for fish and small pets.


I have heard many stories of pets being taxidermied, but I just can't deal with that. That's some Norman Bates-level shit.

Funeral Pyre

This option is unorthodox — even more so than mummification. Most likely, creating a funeral pyre for your pet would not be feasible — legally or practically — but there are places in the US which allow funeral pyres. If you live in a rural area, can't spring for cremation, and feel competent in creating a funeral pyre, this might be worth researching.

When your pet is MIA

Sometimes pets wander off, never to be seen again. We always hope they've been taken in by new families, but their absence definitely leaves a hole. Here are a couple of options for if Fluffy runs away — or how to further memorialize a pet who's now buried in the garden:

  • Gather a few favorite toys, frame a nice photo, and place them together on a shelf as a quiet tribute.
  • Add his tags to your keychain, or loop them on a chain and hang them in a visible place.
  • Make a donation in your pet's honor. You might decide to help the ASPCA, your local animal rescue, a school of veterinary medicine, or a charity which collects supplies for pets of displaced or disaster-struck families.

Now that you've read the saddest post ever, go hug your fluffikins. And here. Watch Maru:

  1. I've done burials for most of the pets I've had and they were a nice way to get some closure on that pet-chapter of my life. I think this is a great post on the different options available. Although I have to say, as I was reading this, there was this very somber tone my head was reading it in until I hit the taxidermy part. It felt like a friend leaned over during a serious part and whispered a joke to me. πŸ™‚

    • We buried our beloved cat Scaredy in our backyard , who passed away from cancer. His daddy held him in his arms on an unusually warm march day so he could hear the birds and feel the sun on his beautiful black fur. Seashells mark his grave and I have a bird feeder dedicated to his memory. We have the ashes of two other pets inside in an urn. He was the wild child- forever now in our hearts yet roaming free to catch his birdies!

      • My beloved cat died on June 2, ironically June 3 was my birthday. The cat was happy in the morning, running on the deck, refused to come. I and my boyfriend left for work, leaving them at home as usual. We have adopted them, James and Calving on March 24 this year. They were healthy 6 and 3 year old best friends. Their owner was diagnosed with brain cancer stage 4, and didn't want them to be separated. James, our kindest cat with a big heart, was such a joy. Calvin used to attack him playfully, and both of us would protect James. He was such a joy.

        On June 1, after we came home, we noticed James was missing. He was hiding under the bed. When we removed the bed, we noticed his lower legs were not functioning at all. We took him to the emergency right away. The cost came up as $3200 and we agreed anyway. At that point, I would give anything just to save him. Unfortunately, the next morning we received a phone call saying he was in pain, not making it. His livers got damaged as a result of medications, and doctors suggested to put him down.

        We let him go 2 days ago. Still grieving, his friend Calvin is grieving tool. In order to cover the costs, I opened gofundme donations, because I used to donate here whenever someone really needed. I hoped I could get at least some of the expenses covered. However, when it came to my turn, there is not even $1 donated. I am heart broken. Next time I will think twice before donating someone too. Here is the link gofundme.com/27s8cnmx but I am giving up on that.

        I would never ask for donations, I just graduated from college recently. I still need time to get over and move on, get a job and pay off everything. It is just when you need help, there is no one.

        • I'm not sure if you could still read this by now. I'm a Filipina and my cat just passed away today too and I am very depressed. Adopted him outside our school Feb 2014. I don't have much, I'm just about to graduate from college (hopefully next May) but I swear if I was in your country I would've given even $10 or more as long as I have something to give. I hope you're better now. Wishing you the best.

        • Jill,
          Did you ever get anything from go fundme? I can't believe you didn't get any money! Did you link to all your Social media sites? I am so sorry for your loss and I rescued a dog and when we got her and she was very ill. We didn't know until a few days later and she had 3,000 worth of vet bills, it took us a long time to pay it back. It was worth it but we are still trying to pay the last 1800.00 I hope you see this, if you start a new fund let me know, I can give you 20.00

    • Faced with a similar decision; more so, required the role many have mentioned, as the whatever child in the family to take the burden. This was in both administering the beloved cat's i.v.'s as her kidney required as well as the decision to take her to the vet and give the final decision to allow her to go on. (which had, at last attempt a chance at extension; but blood work and a little Doctor Doolittle with the friend I had rescued years ago, been pretty much made for a time of final good bye with a message whispered in her ear and a short message written to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama along with a picture and request for his next laugh to perhaps include the joy of a life that brought happiness (though, some billion or million followers; I have had the kismet of being heard by His Holiness and being mentioned in a response before) and was fortunate that this life left pain free by caring veterinarians). I respond to this post and am glad to not have given too many text messages of the macabre regarding taxidermy. Oddly, enough it was Bates that made me questions such choice as more in how one would go about finding a taxidermist. Though, knowing of lounges and hunters and mounted everything; I wanted to know, beside that side of it, if having beauty given to a small feline of such a gorgeous coat would have been a right decision. Between that and an episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air as a child, being in the commodities and superstition arena myself, it didn't seem so odd so long as it wasn't on display in my office for daily wheat, gold or stock picks: again this being the pet given to the loved one whom I rescued and truly was in need of the love of this pet the most, for her to have the cat in a warm discrete favorite area and beautifully brought back to well over her final 5 lbs weight with her beautiful coat in full lust as we all remember her, this seemed reasonable – 2 things one: yes to a commodities guy having a heart and two of being of no ink – a post on that sounded beyond bates even to me in comparison even to me – though I do get it. So, I went with burial, as the first snow of the year and freezing the day of had to hit, It was great finding this site and reading these post. I do wonder though: with so many gazettes and bears and elk and deer mounted – presumably taxidermy – is that just extension of Theodore Roosevelt legacy more of macho – or any of remembrance. Now, culturally, having went to university known for its parties and serious courses on Native America Religion and Ritual and later deep study of The Red Book of Jung and his encounters – I was curious on others thoughts or at least to leave this tag of depth out there for the many in an issue that is a heart one to consider – prior, during, hopefully with closure after, and again once more. Appreciate your article though as it did provide perspective – of a culture parallel to me that I have less time to explore. Hopefully this met the off beat and non-drama policy – as you can hopefully read that me to be profiled quite oddly: a terms of living I have no second thought being that of eccentricity….yet with no ink. As for which had the index finger left or right was to nose tap would be helpful wasn't sure but respectfully honored in a superstitious gesture known of different culture but of the same meaning. I feel the hearts of those whom visit this page and wish them all the emotional iron, if in such a time they need it.

  2. A fellow dog-owner at my basic obedience class mentioned that she was planning to have her dog cremated and mix the ashes in with some tattoo ink, you know, to use in a memorial tattoo.

    My first reaction was "How sweet!", but my second was "WTF that can't be real!!"

    • Totally is. Art nerd coming out here: the black in most tattoo pigments is a bone black/carbon black: it comes from burning bones. Lots of vegans avoid it for that reason.

      I make my own paint, but I don't think I'd make my own tattoo ink…

      • My son did this with his fathers ashes and did the paratrooper tat as that is what his father was.

  3. Thank goodness for Maru. He heals all wounds. Even ones that are from seeing that Norman Bates cat!

  4. When my childhood cat passed away, I lived in an apartment, so I didn't ask for his cremation remains back. I did ask for his collar and tag, which I still have and keep, as well as all of the wonderful memories, of course.

    There are such a thing as pet funerals and memorials, too, which are a wonderful way to fully mourn your pet's passing, especially if you don't have the opportunity for burial, or simply as a way to honor the passing of your companion.

  5. When we had to put our dog to sleep very suddenly πŸ™ we opted for the cremation offered by the emergency vet. I wasn't into keeping the ashes and was in too much shock to consider bringing her home to bury, but a few days afterwards, the e-vet called letting us know that they had made a clay paw print of our pup, which I thought was a really nice way to commemorate her without actually keeping her remains.

    • When our cat had to be put down due to old age/medical reasons the vet unexpectedly sent us a bereavement card along with an ink stamp of her paw print. It was very sweet. Of course by the time it arrived I had already processed and started to move on (it wasn't unexpected that it was coming, just unexpected that it would be THEN) so there was even more crying then, but the gesture really was sweet.

      • when my first cat passed away, the vet arranged the cremation and i assume did away with the ashes (since i was only a teenager and at some practice SATs when he passed, i didn't have any say in the arrangements). about two weeks later, i got a card with his paw print and a patch of fur. i didn't stop crying all day.

        i still have the card, but i keep it hidden. every time i stumble across it, i end up balling like a baby πŸ™

    • When my cat had to be put down, they also made an impression of his paw in clay and stamped his name in, as well. I keep it on the windowsill with a little stuffed animal that looks just like him.

  6. I once brought it up to my husband, that we should make plans for our dog when he dies because we won't be emotionally capable of doing it when the time comes. He brushed me off, claiming that it didn't matter because Bruster will live forever. Oh, okay.

    There is a field next to the apartment complex we lived in when we first got Bruster and if I had my choice, I'd bury him there. He loved that field and would spend hours sniffing out voles in it. I think we'll either cremate him and spread his ashes there or bury him in the back yard. Y'know, if he wasn't going to live forever.

    Also: amputated limbs in pet cemeteries? Do you mean people choose to bury the limbs they've had amputated as opposed to disposing of them?

    • People of some religions believe that you should be interred with all your "pieces" for resurrection purposes. I know an amputee that has his leg frozen so that he can be buried with it when he passes. So maybe internment in a pet cemetery is a good way of safe keeping the lost limb? Better than having it in your freezer I would guess….

      • I recently found out my Nanna genuinely believes this. We've been strongly instructed with what she wants when she dies, so she'll 'come up in one piece' when she's resurrected. My whole family is Catholic and this is the first time I've heard anyone mention it, let alone vehemently believe it!

  7. We had to deal with this sort-of suddenly this year; our girl (Lily) had been declining for some time, but took a dramatic turn for the worse and the decision had to be made literally overnight. We had her cremated as well as getting a clay paw print made and, come the end of the summer, I'm going to scatter some of her ashes in the various places that she loved the best (including the yard of my in-laws). We'll keep some of her ashes for ourselves, to be put on a shelf with her paw print. It helps to be able to remember what a full life she lived and how much she was loved.

    I do have to say, though, that the care and concern that was shown by our vet & the vet techs during such a tough time was beyond AMAZING. They went out of their way for us and made sure that we were supported & that Lily was as comfortable as possible. They even made a donation in her name (to a foundation that helps cover the costs of surgery/treatment for animal companions of people in financial difficulties) and even sent us a condolence card. We were extremely touched by their kindness and consideration.

  8. My mom's flower bed is the final resting place for all pets. We pour and decorate a concrete stepping stone to mark each burial spot. It's just wonderful to always have a place to come back to, to remember our beloved pets… that's 1 rabbit, 1 cat, 4 dogs. Nearby is another cat (under the asparagus bush) and another dog and a couple geese.

    Time for the morbid: Can I recommend to people burying their pets to be careful when packing down the soil? If you press down too much, some air will–uh–be expelled from your pet's lungs. Resulting in a noise that is wholly unsettling and has led many pet owners to dig their beloved back up, mistakenly thinking a miracle has occurred.

      • Also, I cannot emphasize enough the depth needed to bury Fluffy. It helps too if you put an old teatowel covered in disinfectant over the, ah, interment.

        I had a rabbit that died in childbirth (sadface) who we then buried with much aplomb… Only to see her her dismembered head right outside the back door the next morning. A fox had dug her up. It was pretty traumatic for my nine-year-old-self.

  9. When we had to put our dog to sleep suddenly ("at 2am" type suddenly) we opted for the private cremation- I was too out of it to realize that it cost about $120, but I'm glad we did it. We spread his ashes in the park near our apartment and hung a few of his tags (I kept the most recent ones, these were old rabies tags and whatnot) on one of the trees he liked to pee on. We kept his collar and a favorite toy, and they gave us paw prints (ink on paper, not clay.) I planned on giving the toy to the next dog, as his legacy, but one of our current dogs is a total toy destroyer so…that didn't happen. (Which is sad because the other dog would probably cuddle it and love it and lick it tenderly, given the opportunity, haha.) I actually have a little bit of that dog's undercoat hair fluff in a bag, because I was going to make it into yarn (I spin, and knit, and whatnot) but I haven't so far. I know that's a little weird and gross- I wouldn't wear it, maybe just knit a little toy dog with it.

    Little animals I've always buried in the yard (or flushed, if they were fish.) If I were in a house I were planning on staying in pretty permanently, I think I'd bury our dogs there, otherwise… I'm not sure. They're both very young so (nosetap) hopefully they have a while.

    • I don't think turning the fur into yarn is weird. It was actually a Victorian tradition to save a lock of hair to commemorate the departed, sometimes incorporating it into jewelry or even 3-D art. I hope to learn more about this so when my own dear pup eventually goes to *insert Deity of Choice here*'s Great Cushion in the Sky, I can commemorate her this way.

    • When my last standard poodle took a turn for the worse, I asked my mother to clip some of her wool for me. Unfortunately my parents had to make the decision to have Layla put down without me present (I was away at university in another province), which was heartbreaking and understandable. I'm exceedinly glad my mum kept her wool, because i have since discovered the joys of needle felting. Poodle wol, when carded, is in increibly soft, and I intend to use it when I make a mobile for my baby. That was Layla can still be with us, along with her collar and favourite toy. I don't think it's morbid at all, but a lovely testament to her memory.

  10. Well this is odd timing. My cat passed away two days ago and my boyfriend's passed away four days ago. We had a previous cat cremated because it was the easiest. The cat that just currently past though, we might bury her even though that's illegal up here in Canada (at least in Ontario it is). After she passed, we got some modeling clay stuff that air dries so we got her paw prints and once it dries, we're going to paint it.

  11. Man, this article has some great advice, but it also made me tear up. A couple of our friends just had to say goodbye to their kitty they've had for 13 years. They got him (Cloudy) cremated and have his remains in a nice wooden box with a plaque with his name. I don't even like to think of our kitties passing on to the great sunshine patch in the sky, but this article gave me some things to consider when that day (NEVER!) comes.

  12. This post made me cry…

    Until I got to the part about the stuffed cat, and it reminded me of this girl I used to know. She told me once about how she had recently moved in with her boyfriend, and how she was so relieved that her cat was making friends with his cat. Except she went on to say that his cat was stuffed. It had died a few years before and now it lived on the bottom shelf of their bookcase, and apparently her cat would go over and rub against it. WTF do you say to that???

  13. I grew up on a farm so I had never really thought about this. Like Cat, my dad did that stuff. He even buried my pony. I am fairly certain that the last dog we had put down was cremated by the vet. Not sure what I will do about the current pets but probably cremation. I never knew where any of our pets was buried so I'd rather keep a toy or get an awesome statue or something (Windstone Editions makes some gorgeous statues including of kitties with or without wings and guinea pigs).

  14. Thanks for a great (though sad) post, Cat!
    My 17 year old cat passed away this May. She lived with my mum and dad in the house where we both grew up, so I wasn't there when they put her to sleep. My mum and dad didn't even tell me about it until a few days after, so I didn't have any say in what would happen to her.
    I wish I had been more clear with my parents about what they should do if my cat died. I wanted her to be buried in the yard, so that I could have a place to go and visit her, even after she was gone. I keep thinking that I could have had this if I had just talked about it with my parents.
    Hopefully someone might learn from my mistake and talk about this with the people who take care of their pets (if they should happen, like me, to not share a home with their pet).

  15. There is at least one company that can professionally mummify pets, if you have the money for it. (It's really expensive.)

    Reading this post made me cry, and I'm going to go hug my cats now, but it is a good list of suggestions on how to deal with such a sad subject.

  16. Uhhhhhhh hello? Pets live forever. Ahehehem. Ignoring this (well thought out, thanks for the info:)) super sad post and going to go home and hug all my animals now!

  17. I need to show this to my hubby … he has a family dog that still lives with his family, but she is quickly declining. He was set on having her stuffed. And put in the lounge. Um. No. Apart from the creep factor — we have two of our own dogs that love to destroy things. Can you imagine taxidermied dog shreds? No thanks.
    But my dogs and cat will never die, so it's okay :p

  18. I snuck into a park and buried my cat.

    She had belonged to the daughter of some good friends, and she died at my apartment while I was over at their house. I was absolutely crushed. I was just moving out of the apartment, and she was going to live with another friend (she came to me because she couldn't handle the new baby) and she died so suddenly. She was my only companion when I was without a roommate for the better part of a year, and I am convinced she could read my mind. I wasn't sure what to do. My parents were in town (thank God!) and I remembered that my vet had cremated my pet mouse when I had to put her to sleep, and they sprinkle the ashes in a nice pet cemetery. But it was really up to the daughter who had owned her before, and she wanted to bury her in the woods near their house where she had roamed. We didn't ask permission, we just did it.

    If you want a cry-your-eyes-out-over-a-pet-death-story, read Ramona Forever by Beverly Cleary. I read it outloud to a girl I was babysitting and was a sobbing mess by the end of the chapter.

    • When my cat James was run over by a jerk in a big black truck, in front of me, no less, I had no choice other than to sneak into a park and bury him at night. I had no money, and after a few hours of hanging out with him on the porch and grieving, it was definitely time. The experience was traumatic as hell, but I would say that the three hours of digging his grave were very therapeutic. The physical labor of it gave me a way to expel some of the grief. I was also lucky to have a friend who was willing to help. The thing about burying a pet in a park is that even if you don't own land, you can always return to that spot. That was very comforting to me. I also left a note under the door of the nature center at the park thanking them. A few years later, our rattie was also buried in that park. It's a special place, and burying our pets there really brought closure.

  19. I grew up on an out of use farm. Our pet graveyard was in the woods just behind the back field. My Dad always covered the entire grave with big stones he pulled from the old rock walls that separate the fields. The stones were heavy enough that scavengers couldn't move them to dig up the grave.
    Another thing my parents did when our family dogs were old and they could tell thier time was coming, was to dig a grave pre-emptively in the fall, just in case.
    On another, much less practical note, My parents decided 10 years ago that the thing, obviously, to do is to obtain 5 miniature donkeys. Donkeys who live at least 30 years. Which means, best case scenario, my parents will be in thier 80's and 90's worrying about digging giant graves for miniature donkeys.

  20. Ah this is a good post. I recently lost one of my childhood pets, a dog who was really special to my whole family. I'm an adult now with a family of my own but when I heard about our dog I went to the vet and then helped bury him with my step-dad. It was very emotional and I actually made the decision to bury him. My very first ever dog was buried out at my great-grandparents home, which we are lucky to still have in the family, so we buried him out there along with another dog we had.

    When we buried my first dog, my father dug the grave too shallow and she ended up getting scavenged. D: I still have the spot memorized and I'm planning on getting a grave marker for her. The second dog that passed away (one of my first dog's puppies actually!) died the day after Christmas. My step-dad has access to a lot of heavy construction equipment. He took a backhoe out and dug a massive hole for him. The latest dog to pass away got a hand dug grave and we went down about four feet. So far he hasn't been bothered.

    Burial to me is the easiest way to find closure, possibly because it's 'tradition', but also because I feel like the animal has a special place and was 'put to rest.' I think it's the actual process that brings closure.

  21. We always used to bury our pets in the back garden. The cat that died when I was littlest was the one we made the most fuss over – wrapped him in a fleece coat, with a little bag of food and some photos of us.

  22. I had my beloved 16 year old Rotti cremated. I am lucky enough to know a vet that understands that putting an animal down in the vets office can be traumatic for both owner and animal. When it was time, he came to my house and I held her in my arms as he put her to sleep.. (ok I'm crying now..) and she made the most terrible noise in the world. It will haunt me forever. BUT it was the right thing to do, and the right way to do it.
    Because I knew when and where it would be, I arranged to have the cremation people come about an hour after. She stayed covered in a blanket until then, although I continued to have my arm around her because she was still warm.. and sort of twitching.. (the vet warned me that this was normal-lucky he did or I would have been convinced that she was still alive – he warned me that she might make a noise too).
    Now I keep my babies ashes in a box, until the day I can afford to have her ashes made into a diamond (life gem) so I can have her with me always.
    In the mean time I am going to get a tattoo of her paw print, hopefully soon.
    Ok, far more info than I'm sure you needed, but it's good to know in advance that they can still move and make noises after they pass and sometimes the vets don't mention it.

  23. All our pets have been dealt with at the vets, all but one being put to sleep at the vets.

    I dont know what happened to them after that and personally dont want to. I'm very much a believer that once you're dead thats it. In my mind to make a big deal with funerals, burials etc just prolongs the agony. So to me, all my pets died and the vets did whatever they had to.

    Of course it does mean I have quite negative connotations regarding the vets, especially after always going to one vet practice, but it also means that there is no one place I regularly frequent that upsets me so much. Plus I'd never forgive myself if I were to bury a pet and later move house.

  24. I didn't see it mentioned, so I would like to point out that the laws regarding funeral pyres rarely apply to pets, since they are usually defined as property under law. I know you can give your pet a fiery send-off here if your county allows trash burning. Not debating the ethics of those type of laws, just thought it was worth mentioning. You can probably call your local pet licensing office to check.

    • I wanted to add that sometimes cities have their own laws governing what to do with remains. For example, where I live, pets of a certain size (if not all pets) cannot be sent home to be buried, they must be cremated. Obviously, this applies only if your pet passes while at the vet or emergency pet hospital.

  25. Well, this just made me start sobbing at work. A very well written post, with some great advice.

    We just lost our sweet cat about two months ago at the untimely age of 7 (she developed large cell lymphoma) and we were very bonded, so it has been very hard being without her. We did the individual cremation and have her in a beautiful cherry wood box. I also took some of her ashes and had them made into a glass necklace by a company called Love Ashes. It is a beautiful work of art and helps me feel like she is still with me.

  26. Oh my word people, I read this yesterday and thought 'thank goodness all my pets are young at the moment and I don't have to go through all of this for a few more years'. I didn't nose tap. Tonight I realise I cannot hear my foster guinea pig chatting away, and find her unconscious, limp and gasping. She was still living with the rabbit that she was brought to me with, and it seems that somehow or another her spine was broken. She was also suffering internal bleeding. I held her, feeling grateful that she was at least unconscious as she slowly slipped away. I'm a bunny person, and love them dearly, but when it comes to creatures that are smaller – they do not understand their own strength. I am planning on submitting a post on bunny keeping – and will not be including a large warning. Do not keep bunny with guinea pigs. Too much can go wrong.

  27. If you have to take your pet to the vet to be put down, or if your pet dies at home and you are taking advantage of having the vet cremate its remains, you can often request that they clip a lock of fur and make a paw-print in modeling clay. I for one am not a fan of keeping mementos mori around, so I try to take pictures of my fur children as often as possible so that (gulp!) once they're gone (which will never, ever, ever happen because they've both been instructed to live FOREVER) I have images to remember them with. And in the meantime, I use those images to make LOLcats.

  28. we buried my wife's dog in the yard (he was only 2, got hit by a car). a friend came over when it happened, and he and i dug the hole. we happen to have a number of enormous flat rocks in our yard, so we relocated one over the grave.

    don't forget to take care of your other pets as well as yourself. at first, my dog curled up on top of the stone, and piled every ball in the yard on it (even though he doesn't really play with balls; her dog did). it was doubly heartbreaking. he also tried (fortunately, not very hard) to dig him up. so, you might watch for that too.

    • Thank you for this, I was just thinking "How can I cry harder?" I have to go wipe my tears with my 6 year old chihuahua now….

  29. My childhood cat had to be put down a few months ago. I wasn't in charge, and I didn't live at home anymore, so my mother got the final call on what the vet did with Kitty. My mother had her cremated, and Kitty currently resides in a pretty box with her name on it in my mother's curio cabinet. Considering that Kitty always wanted to get in there, I think she'd be happy with that. And she did go off to be cremated with a big hot pink lipstick mark from our neighbor who would come and feed her and my dog in the middle of the day, so everyone got to know how loved my Kitty was.

  30. Well, this post made me cry at work. *sniffle*

    Unfortunately, this is a very real thing my family and I will have to deal with soon. We have a family dog, nearing the end of his life sometime. We got him when I was 9. He's 15 now.

    I hope we get him cremated (privately), and do a special thing for him. We do celebrate his birthday every year and give him Christmas presents, so I think a proper memorial is in order.

    My only question is…what do people do as a part of their grieving process? I don't think I'd be able to go to work immediately after my dog goes…he's been family for 15 years!

    • Oddly, and sadly, enough…the day I wrote this my lovely Louie-dog (a black lab border collie cross) died. πŸ™

      I cried a lot yesterday, and I'm crying still today (I'm considering going home to get it out of my system).

      My mom found Louie in the backyard, lying in his usual spot, so when she called him to get inside, he wouldn't come. She went out to get him, and he just looked at her with tired eyes. She managed to get him inside, but he wouldn't eat his treats. But he followed my mom around and lay next to her. But she said he was so tired looking, and wouldn't eat or drink. So she called my dad who was out of town on business, and they decided to take him to the vet. Luckily we have the best vet in the world (the entire staff petted him and comforted my mom, and Dr. Bob is so gentle). Dr. Bob said he wouldn't last much longer, and if we let him live it out, he would be in a lot of pain since he wasn't eating or drinking. They put him to sleep, and my mom said he looked so peaceful and happy.

      She got him privately cremated, and when the entire family is all together again in September, we're going to go scatter his ashes at the lake in his favourite park and have little memorial for him.

  31. We have had all of our past family pets cremated and buried under a rose bush at my parents house. That rose bush was the only thing from the yard of their last house to move with them. As a bonus to being able to keep the bush, each pet that has been buried under it has contributed a colour to the blooms, so what started out as a single pink rose bush, now blooms pink, yellow and peach roses. It's a lovely way to remember your pets and keep them with you always without having to worry about transplanting the plant and finding remains underneath.

  32. I've had pets all my life, so we've done a few things. For my current cats, I plan to get their ashes back, mix them into one of those cement stone molds, and then decorate them and add their names. It will be like a little headstone, and then I'll put them in the garden where all the birds and buggies dwell. Whenever we were commemorating a cat in my family, they usually got a bush or flower that attracts bugs and birds.

  33. I read this article yesterday afternoon. Yesterday evening, my husband brought home a puppy. This morning, our Puppy died.
    The world can be cruel. It amazes me how things like that work.

  34. Last year my 21 year old cat, Sorrow, had to be put down. The best decision I made was to pony up the extra money to have the vet come to my home to euthanize her. Sorrow was never fond of going in the car, and I wanted her last day to be as pleasant as I could make it. She wasn't in good shape, and it was obvious she'd go on her own in a few days. As I had had her through thick and thin for the entirety of her life, it was very important to me to be able to ensure she was comfortable, make some last good memories and say good bye in a peaceful environment. The vet was very compassionate, asked questions about her life and listened to stories for quite a while. She was also kind enough to make a pawprint on a piece of clay before she had to do the procedure.

  35. Our dogs have always died at the vet's office, so we had them cremated. Not sure what happened to the ashes – the latest is still in a box in the garage. When my cats died, my father threw the bodies in the swamp. Same with my guinea pig when I was ten. I was pretty upset at the time, but it doesn't bother me now.

  36. My childhood cat came with me to live when I moved out on my own and she was seventeen when she died. She wasn't doing so well one afternoon (she had been sick with failing kidneys for a few months), so I made a vet appointment for the next day to have her euthanized. She held on all evening while I was in class and died in my arms shortly after I got home. This was over ten years ago, and I still get all teary-eyed when I think that she waited to see me before she left.

    My boyfriend (now husband) sweetly put her in the trunk of my car for the night since it was winter, and I took her into the vet the next day to get her cremated. Her ashes are in a tiny box inside a bigger wooden box that also contains the sweater I was wearing when she died, a few of her toys, and the sympathy card with her paw print the vet had sent me. I still hold onto the plan that I will bury that box when we move into a house with our own yard, since I would feel weird burying her in our condo's yard that we share with three neighbors.

  37. Here in San Francisco (where few people have a back yard) we have our own free pet cemetery. Technically it's retired and for historical purposes only…but I totally buried my little puffer fish there, and many other people still bury their pets there too.

    When I was growing up, we always buried my pets under the huge trees in the back of our yard. However, I strongly recommend ONLY burying your pets in your yard if you plan to be there for many many years to come. After we moved when I was 13, the people who bought the house ripped out all the trees–and, I'm sure, my pets with them, one of which had only been in the ground for a year.

    I had one of my other dogs cremated individually. Compared to human cremation, it was very affordable, and I kept her in a wooden box as I moved from one place to another throughout my teens and early 20's. When I moved to my current home, I discovered a big gorgeous park beloved by countless numbers of dogs, and knew that my dog would have loved it there too. I felt the time and place was right, so one windy day I went there and scattered her ashes.

  38. My life partner JuneBug walked away when it was her time. I honestly don't know what her side of the story is, but I have been pretty devastated by the way she ended our 14 year relationship. Ultimately, I made artwork to honor her passing as part of that process I wrote out a mythology outlining what happens to our souls when we depart this world – I am in the process of making the whole thing into a children's story. The bones of it are here (in the form of an artist statement for the work which was done for school) http://q-no-u.blogspot.com/2011/02/passage.html I miss my girl everyday. She was my constant and my anchor.

    • I'm sorry for your loss. It sounds like leaving you, as painful as that was, was her last act of love to you. She was sparing you the pain and difficulty of dealing with her body in addition to your loss. It's touching to think she was trying to protect you, even if it wasn't what you wanted.

  39. I just looked at my shop referrals and found your blog. Thank you for mentioning my cat urns. I made my first for my 19 1/2 year old Fred. We buried him the backyard but I wanted to make something to hold his collar. I made a little lidded jar with his likeness on top. Since then it has been my sincere honor to make many urns for many people. I'm so glad what I do can bring a little comfort to folks when they lose their furry family members.

  40. a few months ago we had to put to sleep one of our cats quite suddenly (she was old and only 6 months prior we had rescued her as a stray off the street). We loved her though. As we have two other cats and 2 dogs (we didnt want to risk her being dug up) the animal hospital offered to keep her body and bury it for us. The animal hospital chaplain came with us to the ICU and explained where the property was that she would be buried and after the terrible act of putting her to sleep was done, the chaplain cut a lock of her fur for us and gave us back her collar and tag. At first I was like "A lock of her fur??? thats so morbid", but my husband thought it was a good idea, and now Im so grateful we have it. The chaplain even called us the following day to see how we were and to offer us some emotional assistance. Many people I have spoken to think that this is total hogwash and dont appreciate being contacted by the chaplain but I can honestly say (even as a non religious person) having some there for us especially in ICU at the hospital was gold. Im so grateful for that assistance.

  41. Years ago, my beloved ginger ninja Amber was run over while I was out of town. She was my first ever pet. The friend who was housesitting buried her in our garden, and bought a rose for her – the rose was named Faithful Friend.

    I sat in the yard and /howled/ when I got home, and it was such a lovely lovely gesture on her part. That was ten years ago, and the rose is still blooming. And I still miss my ginger ninja, even though I have three wonderful cats ruling the house.

  42. We had to put our little rat buddy Thomas the Rat Engine to sleep four days ago since he started having seizures all the time and the vet said he probably wouldn't ever come out of it. I painted a memorial portrait of him from photos we had, to help me process and so we can keep his memory in our home.

  43. My Randolph is 22 years old. He's blind, slightly senile and incontinent. His quality of life has not dropped to the point where we are considering having him put down yet, but we have decided what we are going to do.
    We are going to have his DNA sample preserved until we can clone him. No joke. http://www.fluffy2.com/index.html
    We will have his body cremated and the ashes put in this canoptic jar http://www.amazon.com/Egyptian-Bastet-Bronze-Canopic-Burial/dp/B003P57MRQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1314749280&sr=8-2

  44. I want to thank you for this article, it has been cathartic beyond words for me at this point. Yesterday I had to put to rest Calvin, my horse and dear friend that I have had since I was 15 years old, he was my best friend and saw me through every up and down turn of life. However, after a long struggle with a rare form of cancer it was best to euthanize him so he would no longer be in pain, and I know he was peaceful in the end, it doesn't change how hard it has been, still crying through it all. I chose to have his body sent to a Cornell, a teaching vet hospital for a necropsy and cremation. I know that may sound morbid, but it does give me some solace that his passing won't be in vain, and that they can learn something from his cancer. As for the remains, I want to be able to have a part of him to bury with the rest of my family pets at my parents farm, and sprinkle his ashes in all the places he love riding and grazing. Thank you again, and the big animals are just as much members of our family as the kitties and doggies.

  45. If you bury your animal in your yard make sure you use a marker to mark the site. We forgot to with our one cat who had died much earlier and we accidently dug her up when we had to bury our other cat, thinking her grave was a few feet over. needless to say i was not impressed with myself.

    • I usually try to bury my critters when they pass on but the odd time we have had one die of old age 17 years in the middle of winter so we ended up cremating and burying the urn in summber

  46. Just stumbled on this blog. I wish I would have seen this a few months ago when I had to put down my cat after a painful illness. At the advice of my vet, I also opted for cremation, and took the remains home. I had no idea what to do with them and honestly, was kind of weirded out by the thought of spreading them around anywhere. I had never heard of the tattoo idea, but wouldn't have done that anyway . (:-)) I finally took the plunge and decided to bury the cremation urn in my yard. I bought a gold cremation urn pendant and filled it with a bit of the ashes. Not sure if I'll ever wear it but I feel better knowing that I can if I want to.

  47. We just put our kitty to sleep a few weeks ago. We decided to have her remains cremated. The pet crematorium was able to guarantee us we would just get *her* ashes back, and they returned them to us in a cedar box (completely sealed, which eliminated my nightmare of spilling them everywhere). We live in an apartment and want to buy a house. When we do, I want to bury her ashes in our garden and plant catnip over them…to give to another cat, since we will indeed be getting one at some point.

  48. Great article. When the time comes I'm going to use a bio urn from burymypet.com and turn Charlie the dog into a tree!

  49. one of the nice things you can do with a little bit of your pets cremains is to have some of the ashes incorporated into a piece of memorial jewelry. There are many places on Etsy where you can get lovely pieces of jewelry. Another thing you can do if you don't have your pet's ashes or hair is have earrings or necklace or a memorial box made with your pet's picture. These are things that can help keep your pet feel close by. Donating the body for a necropsy (if you are close to a teaching hospital) is actually an amazing gift and can help many pets down the road. If you have medications left over you can often donate those to shelters where they can help animals in need, allowing your pet to help other animals even after death.

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