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What to Do If Your Cat Dies at Home

A white cat laying motionless in it's owners hands

The loss of a beloved cat is an emotionally challenging event for any pet owner. Understanding what steps to take if your cat dies at home can help ease the burden of this difficult time. This guide provides compassionate advice for UK-based cat owners on how to manage the situation, ensuring dignity for your pet in their final moments and beyond.

Immediate Steps After Your Cat Has Died

Confirming the Death: Gently check for signs of life by observing if there's any breathing or heartbeat. If you are unsure, consult a veterinarian immediately for confirmation.

Stay Calm: Take a moment to breathe and collect your thoughts. It's important to approach the situation with calmness and consideration for your next steps.

Create a Peaceful Environment: If possible, place your cat in a comfortable, quiet area of your home. You may want to wrap them in a soft blanket or place them in a pet bed. If you have one, place a waterproof pad underneath your pet. Be aware that rigor will likely set in within a few hours, so you may want to ensure they are in a sleeping position

Handling the Situation If Your Cat Died at Home at Night

Losing a pet during the night adds an additional layer of complexity, as most veterinary offices and pet cemeteries are closed. In this scenario, you'll need to safely store your pet's body until you can reach out for assistance in the morning. If possible wrap your pet in a blanket or towel and place on a waterproof pad, in a ventilated space, safe from interference from other animals, to slow down the decomposition process. This is particularly crucial in warmer weather, as decomposition can start in as little as six hours, leading to an unpleasant odour.

Be aware that rigor can set in within a few hours, so you may want to arrange your pet's body in a sleeping position before this happens.

Aftercare Options

Contact Your Veterinarian: Your vet can guide you through the process of handling your cat's remains. They can also offer options for cremation or burial.

Cremation: Many pet owners opt for cremation, which can be arranged through your veterinarian. You can choose between communal or individual cremation, depending on whether you wish to keep your cat's ashes.

Burial: If you prefer to bury your cat, ensure you are aware of local regulations. Some areas may allow pets to be buried in the garden, while others might require burial in a pet cemetery.

Make sure the hole is at least 2 feet deep, and once your pet is buried, place something heavy such as a large plant pot or paving slab, over the top of the plot to prevent interference from other animals. You can later on, grow plants on top of the plot, but you should avoid planting anything edible if your cat was put to sleep by a Vet due to potential contamination of the soil.

Memorialisation: Consider creating a memorial for your cat. This can be as simple as planting a tree in their memory or creating a photo album.

Legal and Health Considerations

  • Notification: While it's not legally required to notify authorities if your cat dies at home, it's essential to follow local guidelines if you choose home burial.

Commonly Asked Questions

Q: How long can I wait before I have to decide what to do with my cat's body?

A: It's advisable to make arrangements within a few hours, especially if the room temperature is warm. Refrigeration can extend this timeframe. Your Vet or pet crematorium will usually be happy to store your cat's body for you in controlled conditions for a few days until you have come to a decision.

Q: Can I bury my cat in my garden?

A: Yes, in many parts of the UK, you can bury your pet in your garden, provided you own the property. Ensure the grave is deep enough to prevent disturbance by wildlife.

Q: What should I do if my cat dies at night or over the weekend?

A: Many veterinary practices offer 24-hour services, or you can contact a local emergency vet. Alternatively, keep your cat in a cool, quiet place until you can reach your vet.

Q: Is it normal to feel overwhelmed after my cat dies?

A: Absolutely. Grieving for a pet is a natural process, and it's important to allow yourself to mourn. Seek support from friends, family, or pet loss support groups if needed.


The loss of a cat is never easy, but knowing what to do if your cat dies at home can provide some comfort during this tough time. Remember, it's important to take care of yourself and seek support when needed. Your cat was a cherished member of your family, and it's okay to grieve and remember them fondly.

Navigating the aftermath of your cat's death at home involves both practical and emotional considerations. By preparing for this eventuality and understanding your options, you can ensure that your beloved pet is treated with respect and love in their final moments.


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