Dear Christopher Cat: I live in a condominium with two elderly cats. I’ve been thinking about what to do with their bodies after they die.
I don’t want to bury them at a cemetery, which would prevent future generations from using the land. I’m thinking about cremation, but I’m concerned about the environmental impact of fossil fuel use and airborne emissions.
I recently heard the term “water cremation.” What is that, and is it an option for pets?
Christopher Responds: Water cremation, also called biocremation, resomation and alkaline hydrolysis, is much like natural body decomposition, except that it takes less than a day and is more environmentally friendly than other methods of aftercare.
The process uses warm water and a small amount of an alkaline chemical such as sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide to reduce the body to liquid and bone.
Water cremation neutralizes any infectious organisms and drugs, including chemotherapy agents, so the liquid and bone are harmless. The bone powder resembles flame-cremated remains and can be returned to you.
Water cremation is available for pets in my area of North Carolina, but it’s fairly new, so it’s not yet accepted in all states. Your veterinarian may know of a local provider.