If your pet cat is close to the end of their lives, or if they have unexpectedly passed, you will want to know what you can do with their bodies. Its a very sad time, but one that unfortunately every pet owner has to face at some time. If you want to know what your options are, then be sure to read to the very end where you’ll discover the most common and dignified ways to say goodbye.
So, what can you do with your dead cat? The main options you have are burial and cremation. With burial, you can do this yourself if you own a plot of land or have permission by the landowner to do so. You can also have your cat buried at a pet cemetery or other burial ground, which can be arranged by your vet. With cremation, you will need to organize this through a specialist institution, but consider it is generally a more expensive option.
Losing a cat can come as a surprise and its hard to know what to do when the time comes. That’s why, it is always preferable to think ahead before the event occurs.
That being said, sometimes events happen and you are left to plan accordingly.
Let us now take a look at some of the factors to consider before breaking down your options when it comes to disposing of your dead cat.
Cat Life Expectancy
The average lifespan of a domestic cat is between 12 to 18 years. This is what you can expect your cat to live between if they reach old age. Of course, you will need to take care of them, feed them well and ensure their needs and requirements are met. There’s also an element of fate, and whether your cat is able to navigate the landscape effectively and not be subjected to the hit of a car or other trauma.
In some of the extreme and rarer cases, some cats have been reported to live even beyond the teens and into the mid-twenties. One famous cat named Creme Puff made it into the Guinness Book of World Records and lived to be an incredible 38 years old. Its one of around 10 cats that are reported to live between 30-40 years of age!
Your care can play a large role in their lifespan, which is dependent on a number of factors. This includes whether they live indoors or outdoors. Cats who live indoors are typically healthier and do live longer than felines who live outdoors. A cats breed is also a determining factor in their lifespan. Interestingly, a mixed breed tends to live longer than purebreds. Also being sure to visit the vet when they are poorly and in need of medical assistance is known to have beneficial effects on their lifespan.
With all this being said, your cat is unlikely to reach 30-40 years of age, no matter how well you look after them. There is of course a largely genetic component to how long they can live and this is not something we are able to influence.
Nonetheless, no matter how long your cat lives for, you will likely develop a strong bond for them. Having to say goodbye is always hard. No more so than when its unexpected or it happens in an upsetting way or you need to get them put down.
How Can You Tell If Your Cat Is Dying?
It’s very hard trying to come to terms with the loss of a treasured pet, but it helps to be aware of the signs that your cat is dying. This will help you prepare, both emotionally, and logistically.
It can be hard to tell if a cat is in pain or has an illness, so you must be observant. If you suspect that your cat is dying, do not delay in taking your cat to the vet. There may be something that they can do and it may be curable depending on what your cat is suffering with.
Alternatively, you may be presented with the option to end their life, but this will only be in cases where the cat is in immense pain and there is little than can be done to imrpove the quality of their life.
Let’s look at the symptoms of a dying feline that you should look out for:
1) Their personality changes – this happens to a lot of animals when they are dying. As cats get older their behavior changes, this is mainly due to the state of their health. This change doesn’t automatically mean that your cat is dying but it is an indication that something is wrong or they are trying to protect themselves.
2) They lose interest in grooming – cats love to lick themselves into shape and look their best. Some cats groom more than others, but when it becomes a complete lack of interest, this is a clear sign that something is wrong. You may notice that they will lose interest in other activities such as scratching on their post and rubbing themselves against the furniture.
3) Their vital signs change – the vital signs of a healthy cat are a respiratory rate between 20 and 42 breaths per minute, and a heart rate between 140 and 200 beats per minute. Body temperature should be between 38 to 39 degrees Celcius. CRT ( Capillary Refill Time) pressure should be applied to the mucous membranes to see how long it takes to restore normal color. If you are checking the CRT around the cat’s mouth it should take less than 2 seconds for the normal color to return. Any changes in a cat’s vital signs should result in an immediate trip to the vet, as your pet’s health is seriously compromised.
4) They stop eating – while it can be difficult for a cat owner to detect sickness in their cat, a lack of interest in food should be a clear indication that something is wrong. Other health issues follow a change in their appetite, such as diarrhea, vomiting, convulsions, and blood in their urine. If your cat is turning down his favorite food entirely, and has not eaten for an extended period, this is an emergency. However, be sure not to be confused if you have recently changed brand of food, the food available is stale and hasn’t recently been changed etc.
5) They go into hiding – many cats love to hide and pop their heads out now and again, but cats that are close to death will look for an isolated place and not come out at all. They will be very reserved and withdrawn keeping themselves to themselves. You will most likely have to look for them.
6) General apathy, disinterest or thirst for life – signs of lethargy, excessive sleeping and low general demeanor are clear visible signs that your cat is in pain or is close to the end. When cats are old they generally like to sit still in the same position or area for extended periods of time without actively seeking out new experiences, areas etc.
7) Lumps and bumps – cats can suffer from tumors, cysts and other types of lumps. Whether these are carcinogenic or not, you should visit a vet and get them checked out as soon as possible. This is not something that will likely go away or you can do much naturally to treat.
If you see any of these signs, you must contact your vet straight-away, as your vet can confirm whether your cat is dying or has an illness.
If your cat is dying, your specialist will help you to make the right decision for your pet.
If your cat is suffering greatly, you must consider euthanasia as an option.
Your vet will guide you on the best way to care for your cat in their last days and will advise you on how to make their conditions as comfortable as possible before they pass.
It is essential that you assist your cat to eat, drink, and defecate, and offer as much love and affection as possible.
How To Dispose Of A Dead Cat
When the time comes you are going to want to know how you can dispose of your dead cat with dignity, love and compassion.
Amid your grief, it can be extremely difficult to think of making arrangements, so its good to be informed of what to do with a dead cat beforehand.
In the immediate aftermath of their death. It is strongly advised that you place their body into a tight-sealed container temporarily.You can do this by wrapping them in some old towels/blankets, and then placing them into a strong and sealed cardboard box. This will prevent their body from decomposing, which happens very quickly, and it will also prevent flies from surrounding the body. As the body is also out of sight, it also helps to minimize distress, and enables you to focus on how you are going to appropriately dispose of their body.
Just be sure to keep this inside the house, or any outdoor buildings that you have, and be sure to take the next course of action swiftly. They should only be stored like this temporarily, for a few hours, and not stored for days.
After this, here are the main options and considerations regarding each one:
When it comes to burying your cat, you have two options: home burial or burial at a pet cemetery.
Home burial is the most preferred method by pet owners, but you must own the land, have permission from the landowner and/or check that home burial is legal in your area, as some local authorities do not permit burial for sanitary reasons.
If you are looking to bury your cat in your garden, then there are some things you will want to consider.
Firstly, you need to ensure that you place your cat is a concealed box or container. You also need to ensure that this is not made of biodegradable material (like a cardboard or shoe box) is because overtime this will degrade and leave your cats remains exposed. Decomposing carcasses can be smelt by a lot of scavengers and other animals who will attempt to dig your cat up (even after a considerable amount of time has passed).
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Secondly, you need to ensure that you are able to dig a deep hole and place your casket deep within. This will prevent the casket from being exposed over time due to the weather or from general degradation of the soil.
If you decide to bury your cat in a pet cemetery, it’s a more expensive option but a good one, as you always have a place to visit.
Many cemeteries allow visitation, but you must check with them to find out what the visiting days and hours are.
If you have trouble finding one in your locality, you can always ask your vet, who will be more than happy to assist you in arranging a burial service.
Your vet will be able to discuss some options with you and you will likely need to go through them if you opt for a cremation.
Many vets have an incinerator and can provide this service for you, they are also generally cheaper than if you went to an external third party pet cremation service.
Cremation can be a nice way to send off your cat, and you will be given the ashes to remember them by. Usually, you will be provided with the ashes in a container of your choice. There are some really beautiful urns that you can get on Amazon for great prices. You can either take the urn to your cremation service ahead of time where they can place the ashes or you can do this at a latter date.
Other Natural Options
Other natural options include composting the body of your dead cat. While this does sound quite disrespectful at first, its actually a very eco-friendly and meaningful way to say goodbye to your cat like this Washington Post YouTube Video explains.
As your cat will naturally incinerate due to the heat generated by the composting process, your cat will naturally breakdown back into the earth.
If you wanted to pursue this option then you would need to carefully plan your compost heap and ensure that your cat is placed firmly within,
The death of a cat is a sad, upsetting time. Thinking of arrangements to dispose of their body makes the whole event that much harder.
It is advised to consider the burial arrangements of your cat ahead of time, this way you’ll be able to grieve them without needing to worry about anything else.
It’s a good idea to give your cat a respectful and meaningful send-off, especially if you have young children. A home burial can be one of the best ways to see them off, as you can conduct your own service and have somewhere to remember them by.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.