• We can always find our beloved pets in our hearts, but having their cremains may feel like they are still here with us. Boxes and urns have become the physical presence of the companions we have loved and lost. Stopping to look at each one may make the tears fall, but it more often stirs good memories.
• We can take our pets home, and bury them, but if you live in a municipality, you’d have to check local codes. Other choices are a private cremation, where your pet would be cremated as the only one in the chamber and those individual cremains returned; or a group cremation in which several pets are cremated in separate containers but in the chamber together (allowing for some cost savings), and their cremains buried or spread onto appropriate fields together. Many people are now choosing to have them back by using the individual cremation.
• Cremation has grown more popular with pet owners. It is a good choice for owners who are increasingly mobile. Many pet owners choose not to inter a pet at home or a local pet cemetery, especially if they plan to eventually move from the area.
• The cost is usually determined by the pet’s size and the type of cremation.
• Crematories are chambers in which temperatures reach 1,600–1,700 degrees Fahrenheit to evaporate or burn away organic material and reduce the body to its skeletal remains. The bones are then processed to create the gray, coarse, sand-like material called “cremains.”
• The volume of these cremains depends more on the pet’s body type than weight, as it is only the body’s framework that remains, not the body itself.
• Cats and dogs are the most typically cremated pets, but pocket pets, among others, are now also getting this final farewell. Cremations of gerbils and hamsters can be particularly touching, since parents often bring children who are having their first experience with death. They may hold a small memorial service or offer prayers for their lost one.
• Trusting that you will get your own pet’s cremains back can be a big concern. So, how can pet owners be assured that a cremation business in their area is legitimate?
o The best thing is to ask questions of the owner. People can visit the facility, and if the business you choose doesn’t seem open, you may want to be a bit more skeptical.
Maureen Blaney Flietner is an award-winning freelance writer, professional photographer, and artist who has been happy to enjoy the companionship of several horses, dogs, and cats over many years.