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Ten Tributes to Your Feline Friend

Aug 4, 2008
After one loses a beloved feline, the grieving caregiver often searches for meaningful ways to pay a lasting tribute. The incredible bond can be celebrated in many ways depending on personal preferences.

1. Hold a ceremony -- The ceremony may include family members and close friends, or it may be a private ceremony just for you. Candles may be lit, one for each year of the cat's life. You may decide to deliver a eulogy, play soft music, or display a special urn with the ashes. Children should be encouraged to be a part of the meaningful ritual by telling stories or writing a poem. The ceremony can be held inside the home -- perhaps in the cat's favorite room or be held outside in your yard. The ceremony may include scattering ashes in the garden or placing a special plaque or engraved stone in the garden - even if the cat is not buried there. Some caregivers elect to bury their cat in a pet cemetery and hold a special service there.

For example, all my cats have been cremated, and I have beautiful wooden boxes that hold the ashes. One of the boxes is adorned with an engraved brass plate "My dear sweet Katarina, forever in my heart." I have an annual private candle ceremony in my home to honor all my beloved cats, and I recall something special about each one or I read a letter to them.

2. Frame a photograph -- If you have taken photos of your pets, I recommend gathering up all your old photo albums along with your digital pictures. Looking at nostalgic photos generally brings about lots of laughter and tears -- which is good for the healing process. At the same time you can select your favorite photos to display. You may even decide to enlarge some of the photographs and go on an outing to buy special frames. I have a cat gallery in one of the hallways of my home where my amateur photography is displayed. It is a tremendous source of strength for me to see Noelle, Taittinger, Marnie, Tatianna, and Katarina as I pass through it every morning when I arise and every evening when I retire.

3. Have a portrait painted -- You may decide to have an oil painting or watercolor commissioned from your favorite feline photograph and then hung in a prominent place. I have a cat portrait of Tatianna, and it is one of my most cherished possessions.

4. Write a letter -- Writing a letter to your cat is a terrific way to have a personal conversation, to celebrate his life, and to convey your gratitude. You can express how much you loved him, what you loved about him, and how much you will miss him. You may decide to write just one letter or feel the need to chronicle your thoughts in a series of letters over time as I have done. When finished, you will have a legacy of letters that will grow more meaningful over the years, and you can even read them out loud at a private ceremony in honor of your cat.

5. Write a creative story -- The story can be about any aspect of your cat's life -- how the cat made its way to your household, a funny anecdote, a favorite toy, or one of many nine lives. Friends and family might enjoy receiving a copy of the special story as a gift. Your collection of poignant memories may even turn into a little book, or you may post your stories on a blog.

6. Make a list -- This list is a place for you to recall anything about your cat that you don't want to become clouded by time. For example, one of my favorite memories about my cat, Marnie, is how she followed me around the neighborhood like a dog whenever I went for a walk. Or Tatianna who could shred a roll of toilet paper in less than a minute! When you start this list, just write down whatever pops into your mind. Then you can continue going back to it and adding memories. I have kept such lists and was amazed at how a simple activity could prompt recalling a cat memory.

7. Make a scrapbook -- Your scrapbook can contain photos, letters, stories, poems, lists, sympathy cards, strands of hair, or a whiskers. You may even be inspired to take a scrapbooking class to beautifully showcase your treasured mementos. What better way to pay tribute to your pal's life than to portray and to preserve precious memories in a scrapbook. Or the mementos can be put in a memory box that might include the above items as well as toys, collars, or clothing.

8. Make a donation -- You may decide to make a donation to your favorite animal organization in honor of your cat. Many organizations have permanent plaques or bricks for your cat's name. Your favorite cat book may be donated to your hometown library or school. You may contribute to a veterinary scholarship or donate towels, bedding or a cat magazine subscription to your local veterinarian's office.

9. Plant a living memorial -- If your cat spent time in the backyard or garden, or spent a lifetime gazing outside as my cats did, planting a special tree or shrub is a great way to show tribute and will be a perennial reminder of your beloved friend. Maybe the tree will be planted near the burial site. Another example of a living memorial is a prayer garden. If space is limited for trees and gardens or you do not have a yard, a beautiful potted plant is a perfect remembrance.

10. Find an online memorial -- A multitude of Web sites exist where you can post a memorial for your cat.

The way you pay tribute to your feline friend is highly personal, and there is no one right way to do so. However you decide to honor your cat, the choice will be right for you and your beloved furry friend.
About the Author
Linda A. Mohr is the award-winning author of Tatianna -- Tales and Teachings of My Feline Friend and Catnip Connection blog for Seattle Press-Intelligencer, a professor at Northwood University, and the co-founder of Pet Apothecary. She is a member of Cat Writers' Association with human-animal bond expertise. Visit Linda Mohr or Catnip Connection.
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