Cat in a cold metal freezer

In fourteen days, my first-born will turn 18. She will cast a ballot in her first presidential election this November. If all goes as planned — we are in the waiting and receiving answers stage of the college application process — she will be a college student somewhere this fall.  We have an uncertain road between there and here. Mainly we need to figure out how to fill those deep, dark potholes of want and need with tuition, books and housing money. Needless to say, I’ve been a little weepy and preoccupied with my soon- to-be half-empty nest.

Nests make me think of birds and birds make me think of cats. This recent post by Katherine asked “What animal parts are in your refrigerator?” and that made me think of our beloved cat, who died swiftly and unexpectedly three years ago in January. So, to answer her question and to sneak in an older post you may have missed the first time around, I present the following from April 17, 2009:



Our cat was alive, just sleeping, in this 2003 picture

As you may recall, one of our “twin terror” cats died in January. After the tears and an indoor “service” we placed one of the cat brothers on ice while the other brother looked at us with infinite confusion.

Oh, the humanity!

Oh, the humanity!

This is what our veterinarian suggested in January. When there was a foot of snow on the ground and we hadn’t seen grass or dirt since sometime in November. He said: “If you know anyone with a deep freezer, put him there … or we can take him here.”

There was a fee involved.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of writing a check to have my cat wrapped, sealed, and tossed in a cooler with other dead pets, seemed, oh, I don’t know, callous?

And the very idea of calling around to friends and family seemed queer also. I mean, how do you ask? Mass e-mail? Individual phone call?

“Do you have a deep freezer, Aunt May?”

“Yes, I do, dear. Did your husband get a deer this season? Did you buy a side of beef?”

“Oh, no, it’s for our cat.”

“I’m sure there are other disciplinary measures you can take before resorting to this, dear.”

“No. No. He’s dead. The cat is dead.”


We don’t store or prepare meat in our household, so we have no need for a big freezer. Ours is just a dinky little box filled to the brim with crystallized ice cream and freezer-burned stir fry mixes. I couldn’t imagine grabbing ol’ fluffy by the frozen tail and shifting him to the left so we can reach for the Garden Burgers.

God forbid if he tumbled to the floor, like so many other frozen items from our freezer do when the door is pulled open too quickly. That would go over well with the babysitter, I’m sure.

“You’re out of ice pops, but you have a dead cat in your freezer. By the way, I’m busy for the next year. Don’t call.”

Through word of mouth, we found a discreet volunteer, one who is used to such matters, who offered up space in a big freezer in her garage. We drove several hours to her place. Sweet dead kitty was swaddled in a flannel sheet, wrapped in a bag, surrounded with all his favorite toys, cat treats, and a few messages written on note paper. It was all very Egyptian. Or maybe more like the The Sopranos?

Time passed. The snow melted. The ground thawed.

Still, kitty remained frozen in limbo.

Then, as the buds unfurled on the trees and bushes,  a few inquiries blossomed in my e-mail inbox.

“About your cat ….I think it’s time.”

So, this weekend, without further delay, we are hauling out the old metal cooler, getting a block of ice from the local gas station, and hitting the road. We’re bringing the ol’ boy home for a burial.

You know what’s the most interesting thing about this? I ended my search for a new cat/kitten a while ago when none could be found. Just today I had an e-mail about a litter of kittens available immediately.

Timing. Interesting isn’t it?

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25 thoughts on “Cat in a cold metal freezer

  1. Living in Michigan, it really is difficult if a pet dies during the winter. When I was younger, my dog died in Spring, so it wasn’t a problem. On vacation once, we caught a painted turtle. We had it for a while & when it died, for some reason, my sister decided to put it in the freezer. It wasn’t winter yet & the ground wasn’t frozen. I don’t even remember whatever happened to that poor turtle. It was a pretty strange sight to see it when you opened the freezer.

    • Meleah: Mixed feelings. I don’t want my baby to grow up but I will be glad to be done with custody issues. (I still miss that cat.)

  2. I think it’s touching, what you chose to do for the cat. If you’d wanted to stuff him and display him, I’d feel differently. 🙂

    My firstborn is going to high school next fall, and I’m freaking out about THAT. Can’t wait to see how I am when he’s ready to hit college…

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever loved an animal enough to put it on ice. Actually we’ve only had one pet die, and we just let the vet take care of it. I’m not even sure what that means exactly (and I don’t want to know).

    • Jennifer: We have a cat graveyard out back with three deceased cats feeding the worms. I don’t want to know what the vet does, either.

  4. oh my. . .having driven from PA to NJ (only a little over an hour) with a passed kitty wrapped up in a box in my trunk to bury at my parents’ house with the rest of my beloved pets. . .I feel your pain. . .sigh. . .we are still kitty-less, but I’m getting closer to being open to another. . .


    • Hillary: Fast forward three years and we have a great pal for the surviving brother. He’s all black and as full of as much mischief and love as our lost cat.

  5. I once house sat for a couple who asked me to put their elderly dog in the freezer if she died while they were gone. I think I kept that dog alive by sheer will alone.

  6. I’m about to start my 9-month-old in daycare next week. That’s a big enough milestone as it is, I don’t want to even thing about starting school, college, etc etc… aarrghhh!! :p

    Growing up, we had dogs as pets: one died while being boarded at the vet, the others, well, ran away/disappeared, so I’ve never had to deal with the dead body of a treasured pet before. Now however, hubby’s geriatric cat is doing pretty well for a cat her age, but unspoken is the (fear?) that if she were to fall ill (the vet said she *might* have early signs of kidney disease), she might go fast. Hubby’s had her for perhaps double the time we’ve been married. He would be heartbroken. This post makes me wonder how we would deal with her body, when that happens.

    • Lynne: This was our third cat to go, so we know the process. It doesn’t make it any easier, though, just like the milestones for our children: day care, kindergarten, middle school, etc. Each step along the way reminds us of how fleeting it all is and to treasure the moment. Oh, and take lots of pictures.

  7. Yes, timing is very interesting. 🙂 Thank you for your comment on my recent post. It actually made me feel much better. I felt like you understood what I meant. That’s interesting, too. 😉

    • Sam: I’m glad I could help in some small way. I know that feeling and it sucks. I don’t wish it upon others, but it is comforting in a way to know it happens to everyone.

  8. I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS STORY! WOW! It is sad, it is funny…. My favorite line?

    “I couldn’t imagine grabbing ol’ fluffy by the frozen tail and shifting him to the left so we can reach for the Garden Burgers.”

    I just about died when I read that…. I’m sorry, but oh so funny! And then the last paragraph… I got chills.

    It is so hard to lose a pet. To think you had to lose your kitty cat and then have to figure out what to do afterwards until the ground thawed…SO SAD!!!

    But you handled it so well… and then you got a kitty reward at the end.

    Your story OH SO beats mine…!

  9. I’ve always had my pets cremated and kept their ashes. Though when my last cat died, I just kept some of her fur to put in a crystal box shaped like a heart. I just always figured I’d want to be cremated so why not them. I’m sorry you lost your cat. I still miss all of mine, but there’s always room in our hearts for another and with your daughter leaving home, you may have to adopt the whole litter.

    • Jayne: I have a small clipping of fur from my childhood cat. I didn’t do it on purpose. After he was euthanized, I came home and found it on the floor. I couldn’t bring myself to toss it in the trash.

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