How Do I Handle My Son's Curiosity About Our Cat Who Was Recently Cremated

Updated on August 19, 2008
S.E. asks from Ventura, CA
9 answers

My 4-year-old son, his dad, and I very recently suffered the death of one of our cats. Her ashes will be home tomorrow, and I have a container to keep them on my dresser. My son will no doubt ask about them, and I have no clue how to answer him. I believe in being honest, but he's so young. It's hard to accept and deal with at my age! Thanks for any input you may have.

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answers from Visalia on

He does know the cat died right?
Dont explain the ashes container to him. Dont say anything about creamation or that you have ashes. Wait until he's about 10.


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answers from San Diego on

Hi S., I wouldn't say anything if he doesn't, also the container for a cat, will probably be small. your son doesn't even need to know it is there, unless you want him to know, then I would just tell him that when things die they turn to ash, I would not use the word cremated, or what it intels to, just that things turn to ash when they die. Sorry to hear about your cat, my pets are part of our family as well. J.

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answers from Honolulu on

If you have one, frame a photo of your cat for him, and let him have it in his room or something, as a memento. If he seems to "need" that.

I'm sure he "knows" the cat is gone? He's 4 years old...sometimes kids can amaze you... and "understand" in their own way. If he asks about it... then explain, in a simple way, minus the gory details.

For my daughter, when our cat died (he was old and had tumors)... we explained that he was sick... and his body didn't work anymore... and that he went to a better place... just like Grandpa. My girl then said "he died? That's okay...he must feel better now...he looked sad being sick..." That really impressed us.. .and then she went on about her business. We still had his cat bell... and we kept it, and a framed photo of him... my daughter still likes to look at it once in awhile and wants another cat one day. Meanwhile, the cat bell, from our deceased cat... has now found new "life." My daughter wanted to use it for her new pet rabbit. Tah-Dah! And she is all happy and perfectly fine about it all.

Our girl actually handled everything pretty well. She didn't get sad or anything... but was thoughtful about it and quickly adjusted.

Every child is different... maybe your son/your family...can together get another cat one day....not to "replace" your previous cat...but as a continuity.

Kids this age...can also tell when we are making up "stories" that are not always true sometimes, just to save them from things. So use your best judgment... with your boy's maturity in mind.
Take care,



answers from San Luis Obispo on

We lost one of our cats last December. I didn't go into detail about what happened to him other than that he was sick and old and he died. We also had him cremated and I have the box in our living room. We just call it AJ's special box and its to look at and remember how much we loved him but not to touch. so far its worked perfectly.



answers from Los Angeles on

we lost our kitty when my children were 5 2 and 1. they were in various stages of curiosity about it and I was just honest with them. but I tried to only answer questions. don't elaborate. and try not to be too emotional about it yourself. I kept saying: she died. and I am really sad. but this is what happens and it is ok.
good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

Hello S..
My question is:
Why would you have the cat's ashes on your dresser? are you planning on burying it outside later on?



answers from San Diego on

I'm sorry for your loss. Be open and honest. Death is a disturbing enough subject for adults but the curiosity of a child can cause nightmares for years to come. Place a photo of your beloved pet as close to the urn as possible and explain how special this urn is to you. Ask your little boy to take part in a special ceremony to honor the cats long and happy life. Look at photos together. Write an obituary or a biography of the cats life in a special book. When you're done grieving and feel ready, take your son to the local animal shelter and adopt a cat to share your lives with.



answers from Los Angeles on

Personally I wouldn't go there with a child so young. I'd put them somewhere private until a later date.



answers from Honolulu on

There are lots of books on the subject - I just read one "The Bearnstain Bears Lose a Friend" about the death of a goldfish. I'm sure if you google it, you will no doubt find a ton of these kinds of books. Maria Shriver wrote "What's Heaven" about the death of her grandmother and it is very poignant - but this probably goes too far. He is not too young to discuss this and he will have a very realistic and practical view of death if you discuss it with him at 4 years old.

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