One of our fish died the other day - not surprising as we can't seem to keep them alive since we moved into this house. On the way to flush it down the toilet, Oldest Daughter asked me why we flush fish down the toilet and not the other animals (she's aware of death since one of our birds died a couple years ago and we hand-raised abandoned kittens, losing two in the process). I didn't really have an answer for her since it's never seemed strange to me, but then I started thinking about it a little more and I'm realizing that we've never been consistent with animal remains aside from disposing of fish.
When I was 8, I begged my grandparents for a cat. Finally, they relented. We got K.C. a few days prior to Halloween. She was a beautiful ragdoll Siamese and I tormented her constantly. She lived to be 19 years old and a few days prior to her death she laid down next to me outside and I noticed she was only skin and bones. She was still eating, she was just ancient so she didn't keep weight on. At that time I had ten cats (because I'd had two when I moved back home, my grandmother had two, my husband moved in with two, and one of mine inadvertently got out and had kittens), so she was missing for a couple days when I realized she was probably dead. We went for a walk and found her in the neighbor's yard. I told my grandmother that I'd found her and she called animal control or roadkill pick up or whoever, and they came and took her. Seems fucked up to just leave her there for the trash, right? Yeah. The other cat, Kiki, disappeared and I didn't even notice for months, though other people had. We assume she was eaten by a fox, though my grandmother insists another family took her in.
Well, I'd had a cat a few years prior named Tilly. She was a three-month-old black and white kitten my ex-boyfriend had gotten me during a terrible bout of depression. My depression was worsened when I discovered I'd killed the cat by rolling a treadmill on top of her. I noticed in the evening that I hadn't seen her since the morning, so I moved the treadmill to see if I'd locked her in a rarely-used closet. She was crushed and had been killed instantly. I totally lost my mind, so then-boyfriend sent me and the kids out of the room while he gathered her body up in a trash bag and threw her in the dumpster. I was furious with him but... I never went to get her out. I like to think it was because I was in such shock at what a horrible person I'd been to kill her and not notice.
One of my husband's cats was hit by a car. He was at work when it happened, so I wrapped the cat up and left it in a box out in a never-used playhouse in our backyard until he got home. The next day we took it to the pound and had him cremated, but we didn't get his ashes back. A little less heartless I suppose, but still not the best send-off.
Buried in the yard of our old house are also two mice and a rat named Locomotivation that died when I was a teenager. Two rats I'd had in Wisconsin died and were thrown in the trash. The fourth, named Mascera de Poncho, had a big tumor and was put to sleep and my mother left her to be cremated or thrown away at the vet's office in Laramie, Wyoming.
We eventually sent all the other cats to new homes because Husband and Son were experiencing allergies. We moved, and eventually I wanted another cat. We got Shadow. Shadow got out one day and never came back. Based on the huge number of foxes, coyotes, and birds of prey around where we live, I assume Shadow was eaten. We'd hand-raised some abandoned kittens just a few months before Shadow went missing, so we had one little kitten named Ghost left. The two kittens that died are buried in my front flower garden. The other kitten that lived is now a behemoth named Spectre (yes, 'r' before 'e') and he lives with my sister. If he dies before she buys a house, she is perfectly welcome to bury him here.
We had a bird that got her wing stuck in the cage bars and died shortly thereafter from trauma. She is buried in another flower garden on the other side of our front yard. There is a rock marking the grave of a previous owner's pet name "Chip" out in our backyard by the trash barrel storage corral. It will be there when we move, too. I've painted rocks for the other animals we've buried.
I don't know why we've had such varied and sometimes heartless reactions to the deaths of animals we've loved like family. Maybe it's shock or stress that surrounds certain situations. To end a rather depressing post on a humorous note, I told Husband about Oldest Daughter's question and he said (jokingly, of course) "Because the other animals are too big to flush down the toilet".
Anyway, thanks for bearing with me while I reflect a little on the mistakes I've made and the animals I've missed over the years :)