Neighbor’s cat passed away. Just buried it in my backyard. He’s wearing a sweater. Carry on.
This was my tweet the other night as I sat at my dining room table, just a bit before dusk, when I looked up and saw my mom and two friends walk out to my garden with a shovel and a large lump wrapped in a blanket. I knew what that meant.
It was time for a pet burial.
This isn’t him, but it looks a lot like him—only, you know, alive—and I needed a visual. Play along.
A Little Background
My mom has a pet cemetery that is currently home to everything from our cats and birds to friends’ pets that needed a final and proper resting place. All are buried with their favorite “thing,” be it a toy, a blanket or a treat.
This includes my late neighbor’s dog who we buried a couple weeks ago on a dark rainy night, clomping through the muddy back yard with a shovel and a bundled up blanket. We concluded the event by serenading her with “Gangsta’s Paradise,” as it was in my head for some reason and “raising the roof” fit the mood.
Surprisingly, my mom’s neighbors haven’t called the cops. Yet.
We haven’t run into many issues, save for having to keep my bird in the freezer for three days or having to cut holes in a shoebox for my pet rabbit when I was in elementary school. Evidently rigor mortis couldn’t wait to set in until after I got home from wherever it is six-year-olds go, so the little rabbit’s legs were sticking straight out by the time we tried to put him in the box.
We cut some holes. We worked around it.
Some people might think we’re crazy—I wouldn’t argue with that claim—but I would argue it’s not because we care about our pets. They become members of the family and deserve a proper goodbye, just as we deserve to mourn them. We plant flowers, we place markers, we know that they were loved.
Sam I Am
That brings us to me sitting at my dining room table, watching this cat burial.* *It was cold. I stayed inside. Respects could be paid later, as he wasn’t going anywhere.
The normal view of my birdfeeder—often surrounded by squirrels drunk on fermented fruit and power—was instead filled with my mom and my late neighbor’s two best friends. They were there to bury Sam, a 16-year-old 25-pound cat who had lived with all of them at some point.
Seeing as he lived next door to me for a while and liked me better than crazy neighbor lady anyway, it was thought a proper burial spot would be in my garden.
Things appeared to be progressing normally until I saw my mom hand Sam off to Jeff and pull something bright red out of a bag. There was a little bit of discussion before Jeff unwrapped the blanket and held Sam up by his armpits.
At this point I was intrigued.
The next five minutes involved my mom carefully trying to finagle what appeared to be a bright red dog sweater over the head of a dead cat as Jeff tried to keep Sam up in the air and maneuver his legs through the holes.
When at last it appeared Sam was “warm and styling up in heaven,” as my mom would later tell me, he was raised up in the air for final approval before being wrapped back up, placed gently in his new dirt bed and sprinkled with catnip.
A stone angel marker now designates this space, both to commemorate his furry little soul and to warn me not to dig there when I plant my spring seeds. There was a minor incident a couple years ago that involved planting flowers and hitting a shoebox, so it’s better safe than sorry.
But don’t worry.
Nothing larger than a 30-pound cat has been buried at my mom’s.
When the day comes, Gram is safe.
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