I like to pretend my gray tabby, Bubba Lee Kinsey, is going to live forever. At 13 years old, he still loves to fight, expresses boundless enthusiasm for granola bars and boasts a sleek and shiny coat — attributes that suggest he is probably immortal. He’s been with me my entire adult life, and I cannot imagine living without him.
Every once in awhile, though, the dreaded topic comes up: What are we going to do when Bubba dies? One of the hardest parts of adopting and falling in love with a pet is the near-guarantee that he will die before you. So how are you going to remember him when he’s gone? I’ve considered everything from burying Bubba to cremating him and sprinkling his ashes in the Midwest’s most exotic sun puddle — but the options, it seems, are endless.
Here are five unusual ways people memorialize their pets.
Maybe it’s a little unnerving to imagine your formerly playful, handsome kitty perched next to the television for all of eternity, staring glassy eyed at the same empty spot on the wall — but is it any stranger, really, than burying him? It’s like keeping a photograph, but one better. The main downside: Due to the inclusion of manmade materials, stuffed animals tend to look, well, stuffed. But hey, you’d still be able to stroke kitty’s pretty spotted belly anytime you want.
For more lifelike results, freeze-drying is all the rage. According to Perpetual Pet, a West Virginia-based company that specializes in pet preservation, your cat can be frozen in any position you would like, though they recommend sleeping poses because they tend to look “the most natural in the absence of movement.”
The process works by converting frozen moisture in your cat’s body to gas and and slowly extracting it, which can take anywhere from 15 weeks to six months, depending on the size of the pet. The results are eerily lifelike: “Even from a distance of a mere couple of feet or so, it will be difficult to tell any difference at all, save the lack of movement,” the website says. This whole “lack of movement” thing doesn’t really seem like a problem to me; cats sleep most of the day anyway, right?
By extracting carbon from cremains, the good folks at LifeGem Diamonds can turn kitty into the quintessential girl’s best friend. In an interview with Catster last year, LifeGem cofounder Dean VandenBiesen talked about a couple who used the ashes-to-jewels approach to honor their deceased tabby: “It was an orange cat, so they wanted a yellow diamond, as big as they could get,” Dean says. “At the time we were offering a 1-karat diamond, and the 1 karats tend to be a little bit orangey, just like the cat. It tells you the significance of that cat in this couple’s life.”
If you want to go this route, though, you might want to start saving now: The prices listed on LifeGem’s website start and $2,500 and increase to more than $25,000.
If you’ve never read Crafting with Cat Hair, Katsori Tsytaya’s fun and enlightening tome on how to create finger puppets, hats, and sweaters from your cat’s fur, now might be the time to check it out. She walks you through the step-by-step process of turning your cat’s fur into felt, which can be used to embellish anything from scarves to gloves to picture frames. Bonus: Let’s say you’ve gotta meet with your cat-allergic ex-boyfriend to get some of your stuff back. Go ahead and rock that new scarf.
Etsy shop owner Flora Davis proves that cat hair can also make surprisingly attractive jewelry. At first glance, her conversation-starting necklaces and earrings do not scream “I SHAVED MY CAT AND NOW I’M WEARING HIS FUR.” But the pieces are unique and eye catching, almost guaranteeing you the opportunity to tell at least one person how cute your kitty looked when he curled up on the couch and didn’t move for the next 18 hours.
Bonus: You can make finger puppets and jewelry out of your cat’s fur while she’s still alive!
Artist Deborah Ferraro started creating memorial paintings after she lost her beloved dog, Titan, to cancer at the age of 13. She mixes pets’ ashes with acrylic paint to create one-of-a-kind portraits.
How have you memorialized pets you’ve lost? What are your plans for the future? Tell us in the comments!
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About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic recipient of headbutts and purrs from her two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix.