Burying a Cat – Step by Step Instructions

There comes a time in all pet owners lives where they have to say goodbye to their beloved cat. Companion animals are part of our lives and most pet owners choose to bury their cat in the garden or a special place, but there are protocols we must follow to ensure the burial is performed safely.

Your options

  • Pet cremation (communal cremation where your cat along with other deceased pets are cremated together, or individual cremation, where your cat is cremated on his own, and his ashes are returned to you)
  • Veterinary disposal
  • Burial at a pet cemetery
  • Home burial
  • Donate the pet to a research facility that helps to train veterinary students

This article will look at how to properly bury a cat at home.

Points to consider

  • Are you likely to move in the future?
  • Do you own your home or is it a rental?
  • Does your local authority permit burials of pets at home?
  • Has the pet died from a contagious disease that may potentially infect other animals or humans? If so cremation is the safest option.

What to do before you bury your cat

Check with your local council to see if you are permitted to bury a cat in your garden.

Ensure that there are no underground cables in the area you plan to bury your cat.

If you are renting, check with your landlord that he or she is okay with you burying your cat in their garden.

Choose the location carefully.

What not to do

Do not bury your cat in a public park unless you have checked with local authorities that it is permitted.

Do not bury a cat near a stream, creek or dam as contaminated soil can leach into the water.

Do not bury a cat in an area where food is grown, choose an ornamental garden bed or a patch of lawn.

What you will need to bury a cat

  • Gloves
  • Spade
  • Something biodegradable to bury the cat in, which can be a cardboard box, pillowcase, blanket, towel or rug
  • Strong string or rope to tie around the box
  • Large stone or paver


Ensure the container either has a heavy object placed on top or is securely strapped to keep scavengers out. Nobody wants to find their pet’s remains dug up, also, a cat who has been euthanised has high levels of the euthanasia drug phenobarbital, which will poison pets or wildlife who scavenge the body.

  • Dig the hole to a depth of at least 3 feet
  • Wrap your cat in the sheet, blanket or towel and place it in the cardboard box and tie the box with rope or strong string
  • Place soil over the box and firm down well
  • Put a large stone or paver over the area
  • Many pet owners choose to decorate the grave with a plant (such as catnip, catmint), a headstone or an ornament

Frequently asked questions

How long will it take for a cat to decompose?

The amount of time can range from weeks to months depending on conditions. High temperatures can accelerate the rate of decomposition.

Should I bury the cat in a plastic bag?

A plastic bag is not recommended as it can delay the rate of decomposition and will remain in the environment for thousands of years. It is better to use a biodegradable product to place the cat in.

Can I put a deceased cat in the trash?

Most pet owners would prefer cremation or burial to disposing of a family member in the trash. However, there may be a situation in which a stray or lost pet is deceased on your or near your property. If you do find a deceased cat, it is always preferable to take the body to a veterinarian to have it scanned for a microchip and give the cat’s family closure.

Disposing of a dead animal may vary from council to council, therefore check before you place a deceased animal in the trash. Some councils state that it is permittable if the cat hasn’t died from a contagious disease and guidelines are followed.

How long can you keep a dead cat in the house?

The length of time you can keep a deceased cat in the house will depend on the temperature and can range from a few hours to a day or so. The warmer the temperature, the quicker the body should be buried.

If immediate burial isn’t possible, ask your veterinarian to store your cat’s body until you can bury him. Alternately, wrap the cat in plastic and store it in a refrigerator or freezer. If this is not possible, place the cat in a cool basement or garage. 


  • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

    Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio