Many of us wonder where our beloved cats go after they die.
Is there a heaven for cats?
Do cats reincarnate or join us in paradise?
In the meantime, how do you properly dispose of a deceased cat’s earthly remains?
Some religions say cats join us in heaven. Other doctrines are silent or ambiguous about it, and some say the afterlife is only for humans.
Whatever the truth about the hereafter for cats, it’s essential to dispose of the deceased body properly.
The passing on of a pet cat is often an emotional event for the humans who love them. If a person believes in an afterlife, it’s natural to wonder if cats and other animal friends join us there.
Meanwhile, quickly and responsibly disposing of a dead cat is the priority. As far as disposing of a cat’s earthly remains, there are five main options:
- Burial at home
- Burial in a pet cemetery
- Cremation at an animal shelter or veterinary office
- Putting the body in the trash
First, let’s look at what different religions say about heaven for cats. Then we’ll cover the options for disposing of a cat’s body.
What Major Religions Say about Cats in the Afterlife
Ancient Egypt Mummified Cats for the afterlife
The ancient Egyptians had strong beliefs in an afterlife for humans and animals, including cats. They prepared the dead for the journey to their new home using mummification. Thousands of mummified cats have been discovered in Egyptian tombs along with mummified people, presumably their owners in this world.
Mormons Believe Cats Have an Afterlife
Among modern religions, the Church of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormon religion, believes firmly that cats and other pets, along with livestock and wild creatures, all share in the afterlife with human beings.
Buddhists Believe Cats Are Reborn on Earth
For Buddhists, several types of afterlife exist. In this religion, both humans and animals, including cats, go round and round in a cycle of rebirth and death until the soul is ultimately liberated through enlightenment.
People of the Hindu and Sikh faiths also believe in a similar process of rebirth for cats and other animals along with people.
Judaism Does Directly Not Say
In Judaism, the concept of heaven is not too clear, and the existence of an animal afterlife is more ambiguous. However, Judaism does express a belief that animals are creatures of God, so the door is open to the possibility of reuniting with beloved cats and other pets for people of this faith.
Islam Says Cats Have Souls so Can Go to Paradise
In the Islamic faith, all beings have souls, including cats, but God deals differently with the judgment of humans and animals. However, the Islamic scripture does say that those people who enter paradise are granted everything they want, leaving open the possibility of reuniting with a deceased cat in the hereafter.
The Pope in 1990 Said Animals Can Go to Heaven
Many Christian religions clearly say that animals do not have souls, so they cannot go to heaven. However, in 1990, Pope Francis disagreed, saying that pets and other animals can join us in heaven.
Whatever you believe about an afterlife for your deceased cat, it’s important to dispose of the cat’s remains quickly, legally, and responsibly.
How to dispose of a Dead Cat
People feel differently about disposing of a pet’s remains after death, and as long as what you do is legal, it’s okay.
Some people are not as sentimental about pets, especially after the cat dies. For other people, it’s important to honor the cat and their relationship to it after the animal dies.
Local laws and the availability of services also affect what options you have.
How to Bury a Cat at Home
Some municipalities have laws against burying cats and other animals at home, so check with the local animal control office to determine the regulations in your area.
If you are a renter and it’s legal to bury a pet at home, you might want to check with your landlord or have a look at the lease to see if burying your cat in the yard is okay.
If it’s legal in your area to bury your cat in the backyard, dig a hole at least 16-inches to 2-feet deep and wide enough to accommodate the body.
Place your kitty in the hole, along with flowers, favorite toys, a comfy blanket, or whatever else is meaningful to you in remembrance of your dear friend. Refill the hole with dirt and tap it down lightly.
You may want to place some heavy stones or bricks on top of the grave to prevent wild animals or stray dogs from digging it up, especially if you live in an area with coyotes.
I once buried a friend’s cat in a 2-foot deep hole in his backyard, and coyotes dug it up within a day or two. I should have dug a deeper hole or placed something heavy on top to prevent this, but I didn’t know better at the time.
Many people chose to have a ceremony before or after the burial of their dead cat. My cat recently died, and this is what we did. We cut flowers for her grave, drank a toast to her memory, and cried a lot. Where I live, there are no laws against burying a pet in the backyard.
How to Dispose of a Dead Cat in the Trash
It may sound cold and heartless, but disposing of a dead cat in the trash is often the best option. A trash can burial may be the only option if you don’t have a backyard or local laws forbid the home burial of animals.
You can still make the disposal honorable by putting the body in a special box with flowers, favorite toys, or other items your cat loved. There is no law against having a ceremony to remember and celebrate your cat’s life and your love for it, even if you dispose of the remains in this way.
Put the box in a plastic bag and seal it up. Then place the container in the trash can, and the waste disposal staff will take it away for you without charge.
If your area has a municipal landfill dump, taking the body there for disposal is another possible option. Contact the waste management company servicing your area to find out about regulations and costs.
Don’t feel bad if this is what you have to do. The important thing is the relationship you had with the cat and the fond memories that stay with you.
Burial of Cats in a Pet Cemetery
Not all locations have pet cemeteries, and you are more likely to find one if you live in a big city.
A cemetery burial for a cat can be expensive, and some unscrupulous businesses take financial advantage of people who are grieving over the loss of their cat.
Carefully check the reputation and fees of the company if you decide on this option.
Cremation of a Cat’s Remains
You can take a dead cat to an animal shelter or veterinary office for cremation in many cities and towns.
Most mobile veterinary clinics also offer this service and will pick up the body from your home.
However, unless you paid to have the cat euthanized at this business, they will most likely charge you for the cremation and disposal.
Some cat owners want to have their cat’s remains cremated and then get the ashes back to keep in an urn or have them buried with the owner when they also pass away. Animal cremation businesses like this are available in some areas, mostly in large cities.
However, if you want to have your cat cremated and get the ashes back to keep, it’s a good idea to check into this in advance. Keep in mind that animal cremation services are for-profit businesses, and some take advantage of people’s grief to make extra money.
Pet cremation businesses usually offer mass cremation where several pets are cremated together, and a box of ashes given to each owner. But the ashes you get back may or may not contain the remains of your pet.
For a higher fee, you may be able to have your cat cremated by itself, so you can have just your cat’s ashes returned to you. This option is likely to cost considerably more than a mass cremation service.
If you decide on cremation for your deceased cat, check into the company’s reputation before committing to this option to be sure you are comfortable with what they do and how much they charge.
If you take your sick cat to a veterinarian for euthanasia, the vet will dispose of the body for you, usually without charging an additional fee. However, the vet may not allow you to take the dead animal home for burial, so check in advance if it matters to you.
Taxidermy of a Dead Cat
Taxidermists preserve the fur and skin of the animal and use wires inside the body cavity to make the creature look life-like. The owner can then display the stuffed cat on a shelf at home.
The taxidermy process takes a month or more to complete. It’s not hard to find this service in many locations, but expect to pay $500 or more for an average-sized cat.
How Not to Dispose of a Dead Cat
Some people take their dead cat out into the woods and leave it there, but this is not a good idea for several reasons.
For one thing, wild animals might eat the body, and this may be harmful to them, especially if the cat died from a contagious disease. It is also likely to be against the law. If the cat has a microchip and the body is discovered, you might have a legal problem.
If Possible You Should Bury Your Cat Within Hours
A dead cat can start to smell bad after a few hours, or even a few minutes, depending on the cause of death and the ambient temperature.
Also, it is not uncommon for a dying cat to release feces and urine as it dies. Emptying of the bowels and bladder is a normal process and not something to feel bad about, but it does make it more urgent to dispose of the body quickly if this happens.
After a cat dies, you can wrap the body in towels or put it inside a plastic bag and close the bag tightly to prevent odors. Then you can take a bit of time to figure out what to do next.
If your cat is sick and will die soon, planning ahead about what to do with the body can relieve you of stress and anxiety when the time comes.
If the process is too painful for you to deal with alone, ask a compassionate friend to help you or contact a veterinarian or animal shelter for assistance.
Mobile veterinarians come to your home to provide pet care services, including euthanasia and disposal of dead cats. It’s now easy to find mobile veterinary businesses in most areas.
It is never easy when a beloved pet dies, but quickly disposing of the body is the best thing to do. Removing food bowls, bedding, and toys can soon after the animal dies can also make it easier to cope with the loss of a dear cat friend.
After that, you can contemplate the cat’s afterlife if you believe in it. Even if you don’t, you always have fond memories and love in your heart to help you move forward.
Grieving the Loss of Your Dead Cat
The death of a beloved cat is often extremely painful for their human friends. For some people, the loss of a pet is as heartbreaking, or worse, than the loss of a human being.
Our relationships with cats and other pets are usually less complicated than our relationships with people, which may be why it can be so hard to say good-bye.
Give yourself time to grieve, remember, and appreciate the love that exists between you and your deceased cat friend. Even when your cat is gone from this world, the love between you does not pass away. Don’t be ashamed or feel bad if it takes a while to grieve and move on.