Glossary of Pet Loss Terms


This pet loss glossary is provided to help cat, dog and other pet owners prepare for and manage the after-care of their pets.

After-care - The activities and processes related to the handling and disposition of a pet’s remains following its passing.

AquaCremation - A process for cat cremation, dog cremation or other pet cremation that uses water flow, temperature and alkalinity instead of fire. It works more like natural decomposition than traditional cremation, merely accelerating the process.

Ashes - The material that remains following the cat cremation, dog cremation or other pet cremation. In the AquaCremation process, the remains are almost indistinguishable from those that result from regular cremation.


Bereaved - The family of the deceased pet; those who feel the loss of the cat, dog or other pet.

Columbarium - A building designed to hold urns containing cremated remains. In the case of cat cremation, dog cremation or other pet cremation, this can be a small area in your house; perhaps a cabinet dedicated in their honor.

Communal Cremation - In this type of cremation, an animal will be cremated along with a number of others in a common cremation, and cremains from all the pets will be intermingled at the conclusion of the cremation. No ashes are returned to the pet owner.

Coping - The mechanism individuals use to handle the stress and grief of losing a dog, cat or other pet.

Cremains - Another word for the ashes created by the cat cremation, dog cremation or other pet cremation.

Cremation - A form of final disposition that involves reducing the body to cremated remains. One method is through intense heat; another is through AquaCremation.

Euthanasia - The procedure performed by a qualified veterinarian to terminate the life of a pet through the administration of appropriate prescription drugs. This procedure may be performed at a veterinary clinic or in some cases, at a pet owner’s home.

Grief - The loss of a devoted and loving pet can break your heart. The grief process – acknowledging and accepting the loss of a beloved pet and implementing a strategy to move on with life – works much the same way in the loss of a cat, dog or other pet as it does with the loss of a human loved one.

Inurnment - The act of placing the ashes of a cremated dog or cremated cat or other pet in an urn.

Keepsake Urn - An urn that holds a small portion of cremated remains to symbolize your pet. It can be of any size, but it is usually a smaller item to be kept in memory of your pet. Keepsake urns can come in the form of jewelry as well.

Memorialization - The act of creating a memorial to a deceased pet. This could include a memorial service, placement of a memorial marker, placement of the pet’s ashes in a columbarium, etc.

Pet Urn - A small container specially designed for holding your pet’s cremated remains; can be made of metal, wood, stone, plastic, concrete, etc.

Pet Memorial - A monument to celebrate the memory of your dog, cat or other pet - a physical object, something written or an event.

Photo Urn - A pet urn that allows you to display a photo of your pet.

Private Cremation - Only one animal’s body is present during the cat cremation, dog cremation or other pet cremation process, and that pet’s remains are the only ones returned to the family.

Remains - The deceased pet’s body.

Support Group - A meeting of survivors led by one or more experienced volunteers designed to help attendees cope with the passing of their pets.


Survivors - Those who outlive the deceased pet; the immediate family members and their surviving pets.

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