Life & Work

When you lose your pet: A cat's memorial


As pet ownership in Kenya grows, so are services such as cremation. PHOTO | POOL

A few years ago, I would not have known what to do with a pet that licks me or stares deep into my eyes. Okay, I am lying because instinctively, I would shoo it away it.

Neither would I hold long phone conversations with a friend about the last moments of a cat and a pet funeral.

That was until I met Mincy, a Yorkshire Terrier that I believe was human and male in its previous life. It prefers chapati and eggs, to dog food!

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It also used to eat cat food when it visited Snowy, a cat. Not any cat food but Snowy’s, a white, very velvety-furred feline that was deaf.

Snowy died a few weeks ago and its loss still feels human. It was not a normal cat. It was snow-white, beautiful, and rarely meowed, or jumped fences because it was a rare albino cat, sensitive to the sun and neutered.

It used to lie in its cat bed, near the staircase in the living room, unbothered by staring guests, akin to a masterpiece artwork in a gallery.

At night, it would queenly walk upstairs, jump on its owner’s bed and sleep. I guess at one point it must have assumed that it was human.

Snowy was adorned. It had grooming days, treat days and playthings, not improvised, but real cat toys.

Snowy’s death was shocking. It died of a heart attack after a grooming session. Not to blame the vet, the cat had motion sickness and would get so anxious while travelling.

I was invited to the cat’s memorial. A cake written “Ooh Snowy the Best Always” was cut and the children were told to say something about the pet.

In the silence, the children blubbered cheeky, inappropriate sentences that should not be uttered at a funeral or memorial. They said their parents told them never to lie.

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What do you do to honour a pet? Some furry-parents spin cat, horse and dog hair into yarn and woven keepsakes, while others bury them in their backyards.

As pet ownership in Kenya grows, so are services such as cremation.

In Kenya, pet cremations are now common.

Lee Funeral Home in Nairobi charges from Sh27,000 for a cat that is less than 10 kilos to Sh42,500 for a large dog.

The cost depends on whether the pet is to be collected from your home in Nairobi, cremated, and the size of the urn used to store the ashes.

The urn will be handed to you a day after the cremation. Just to note, the animals are collected in a different hearse from what is used to carry humans.

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