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Old 12-12-2006, 05:10 PM   #1
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How to bury a beloved pet?

I apologize for the sad question, but I'm not sure who to ask.

We recently learned that our beloved cat Harriet is terminal. She'll be with us through Christmas, but probably not much longer than that. Sad times in the dalesd household.

I have two ideas for her burial after she passes:

We have a very nice spot in the back yard where a beautiful clematis is growing. I'd build a very nice cat-sized casket and bury her there. Practically speaking, how difficult will it be to dig the grave in January or February in Massachusetts? I understand I need to go at least 3 feet deep. I figure I'll have about a foot of snow before I get to the frozen earth.

The other idea is to have her remains cremated. In the Spring we'd spread her ashes where we will plant a small tree. It sounds like a beautiful idea. We are planning to plant a tree there in the Spring anyway.

Again, sorry for the morbid topic, but I'd appreciate any advice you can offer.
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Old 12-12-2006, 09:24 PM   #2
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Sorry to hear that dalesd.

Yes, you'll need to go quite deep. Without some mechanical help, I suspect you'll have a very hard time getting through that frozen earth. How much you'll have to get through will depend completely on how cold the winter is.

When my wife's family's cat passed about 2 years ago (it'll be 2 years this spring), they had him cremated (vets are required to do so in NY, as I recall) and the vet gave them a very nice urn (she was quite attached to this cat as well, and cried with my wife and mother in law when the time came). They found a very nice, small bush, and planted it with his urn amongst the roots right by the front door of their house. Someone also painted a very nice headstone for him and they placed that by the bush.

It's a very personal decision, but I like your tree idea. I hate to discourage you from your original idea, but you're talking about digging through a couple inches, maybe even 2 feet of solid earth.

You can still make a nice box for her ashes, bury the box when you plant the tree, and that tree can be "Harriet's tree" forever.
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Old 12-13-2006, 10:46 AM   #3
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Thanks for the input, NothingsLevel. It took me a few days to compose that post, and I revised it a lot as I thought about it. I was already leaning toward cremation, and unless something unforseen comes up, we'll do that.

I like your suggestion about placing a headstone near the tree. That's a great idea.

Yes, I had been thinking of making a box for her ashes. I have a few design ideas: similar to a jewelry box with dovetail joinery and contrasting wood (reminicient of the patterns in her fur).
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Old 12-28-2006, 07:38 PM   #4
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Sorry to hear about your cat.

Our cat Fluffy died back in 2002. She died right while we were in the process of moving and building a house. Due to the moving circumstances, my father and I put the cat in a heavy-duty black bag and we kept her in our deep-freeze for a couple of weeks (didn't do anything to the freezer, like no weird smells or anything like that.)

When we buried her, we put a cardboard box in the ground about 5' deep, then we put her in a second bag. So basically her body was in a bag, which was in a bag, which was in a cardboard box. I'm sure the box has rotted by now, but at the time just putting her in the dirt between two layers of plastic didn't seem right.

I'm guessing you could buy a propane torch from a home improvement store (I think they cost low $xx.) It should be enough to melt the snow and get the ground soft. I know people use propane-powered torch stuff all of the time to warm up the ground. I'd dig at least 3' deep, maybe down to 5'ish if you could but I don't see why you'd have to go that deep.

I've personally never liked the idea of cremation, but it's a personal thing and I'm not saying it's a bad choice. I just think doing a natural burial is just more.. well, natural. I hope a miracle happens and you cat pulls through, but if not I hope you can find a good way to put her to rest, whatever way is fine as long as everyone in your family agrees to it.
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Old 01-02-2007, 09:25 PM   #5
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I had some extra stone from a demo job that I used to make a very nice "rock garden" for our cat that passed. We planted some catnip with him which was his favorite thing
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Old 01-18-2007, 08:24 PM   #6
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Just another option, many local potters will make urns and grave markers on request. Ask at the local college or university art dept, and any galleries for names (they prob wont know who does markers though) Be sure to ask if they have done outdoor work in your local environment, not all clay bodies are suitable for frost/thaw cycles. Look also at their other work, someone that does fine (outdoor) work will do well even if urns or grave markers are not their thing. If the style seems crude or amateurish, or the glaze design seems like a third grader drew it, find someone else even if they sell "outdoor sculpture". Ive seen a lot of "potters" selling stuff I wouldnt feed my cat out of.

Hm, the dept may also have a decent student that can do the commission and some small stone left over from something else.

Thickly cast/slumped panels of glass may also an option if there are any glass blowers in your area, again, there may be weather issues.

Then cast could actually do this yourself, as many tries/versions as you like till you settle on one. Look at lost foam casting methods too.

ok, I'll stop here. As a co-resident with a senior cat, I'm sorry to hear about your kitty.

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Old 02-13-2007, 01:37 PM   #7
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Here is what I discovered...

Our Lhasa Apso died last week. I knew it would be a tough dig, but my kids were violently opposed to cremation, and there are always better things to do with $80.

I cleared the snow from the spot in the backyard, and rigged a small space heater so it was about 5 inches from the ground. This was covered with an old comforter and 4 layers of plastic tarp.

When I opened it up 18 hours later, the ground was soft and spongy... for the first 6 inches anyway. Then I hit the frostline... after 30 minutes of swinging the pick and maybe gaining 2 inches I put the space heater back in the hole and covered it up again.

I opened it up again 24 hours later and had no difficulty digging... I started hitting tree roots at 34 inches... so we buried her there. Since the internment we've had sub-freezing temps and 8 inches of snowfall...
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