Commemorative pet tattoos
January 27, 2023 7:37 PM   Subscribe

I've planned to get a tattoo commemorating my beloved cat who passed in 2021. On the one hand, I really want to. On the other, would it make me too sad? For those of you who've dealt with this(or similar) , did you feel that either option was better? Under the circumstances, I'm not going to pay the cat tax on this one. I hope you understand.

It was always my plan to get his pawprint tattooed on my right hip where he spent a lot of time. He slept there most nights.

I got a beautiful print from him. He was resisting and the way it smeared the ink was just gorgeous.

At first I hesitated because I couldn't find a tattoo shop that seemed right.

But now I'm second guessing if this is a good idea at all or if it will just make me cry all the time.

Have any of you done this? Considered it?
posted by mermaidcafe to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My cat died in 2019. I knew I wanted a tattoo of her curled up on my thigh bc that’s where she slept, but I wanted a specific style (minimalist single line) so it wasn’t until 3 years later that I found the right artist. I love it and am glad I got it. Take the time to find an artist you really like and in that time you can grieve. By the time I got it, the tattoo was really more of a happy memorial and a way to keep her with me always.

Sorry for your loss—it’s really hard. With time and these kinds of acts of remembrance, it will be okay, I promise.
posted by greta simone at 7:41 PM on January 27 [8 favorites]

I have a drawing of my dog, and her name, on my bicep. I had it done after she died. Because it's so visible, strangers often comment on it, mostly guessing that it's commemorative and outing themselves as dog lovers.

Being sad can be good, if the sadness is missing a beloved pet. It's part of love.
posted by Zumbador at 7:50 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]

Okay, I'm going to talk about a person, not a cat, but like you I was in a state of grief when I was considering a memorial tattoo. I was 50, had no tattoos, and my best friend died. I was overwhelmed with the need to have a tattoo memorializing her.

Long story short: I'm so happy I did. The tattoo does make me sad! More then, less now. (It's been 5 years.) But even when I get sad, I feel such joy knowing that I have this image on me, that it's a true part of me, that I am connected to my dead loved one until the day I die. It's a beautiful design and it makes me happy and sad together. Would absolutely make the same choice again.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:53 PM on January 27 [8 favorites]

My first tattoo was in honour of my beloved boy Mojo - i got his name under my arm where he used to tuck his head to sleep. It actually took me a few years to do it, but knowing that i was eventually going to save his spot for him that way really helped me while i was grieving. And now i love knowing that he is always there with me where he belongs.

I think your idea is a lovely one. When you're ready to do it, it will be a marker of love and good memories.
posted by tinymojo at 8:28 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]

My spouse and I both have significant tattoos that honor our dog who died in 2011. I got mine when he was ill, my spouse got hers after he died. Neither of us has regretted it.
posted by outfielder at 9:07 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]

The only time I've ever considered getting a tattoo was when a beloved dog died. If I didn't get it, it was more because of reluctance about getting a tattoo generally than any hesitation about making a mark on my body to honor a being who made a permanent mark on my heart. Unlike people, pets don't leave anything behind but the people who remember and love them, right?
posted by praemunire at 11:15 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]

I do pet portraiture and often clients wait quite a few years before commissioning a commemorative portrait after their pet has died. Maybe give yourself some more time, no need to do this right now.
posted by Balthamos at 3:21 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]

I also have plans for a paw tattoo. My cat died in 2011. I’ve gotten half a dozen tattoos since then, and it’s still not the right time for me. Only you will know when it’s time.
posted by okayokayigive at 4:40 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]

I have the pawprint from my best cat who died in 2020. No regrets. It doesn’t make me sad, it’s not like I forget she was the best or that she’s gone. I love it.

I also have multiple tattoos and there are several, including a human memorial tattoo, in the same general area.
posted by OrangeVelour at 5:11 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]

My dog died in 2019 and I got a portrait tattoo of one of my favorite photos of her shortly after. She died suddenly and in a really stressful situation so it was very cathartic to actually get the tattoo and process some of my grief that way. Years later I don’t regret it, and as time has passed I really love the chances to talk about her that come up when people see the tattoo. Most pet people (and most tattoo people) will understand what a paw or other pet related tattoo means.
posted by assenav at 7:03 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]

I have a little spoon on my wrist to commemorate my dog Izzy who died in 2018. She slept spoon-style with me every night of her life. I love having a little reminder of her. I also find I don’t even see my tattoos after a while, they just become part of me, just like I can’t see my puppy anymore but she’s still a part of me. Do it!
posted by tatiana wishbone at 9:52 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]

Your tattoo idea sounds incredibly beautiful and meaningful. I don't think you'll regret it at all!!! A friend has her dog's paw print tattooed on her foot and it's so cool. She has no regrets!

Since you asked... I really, really love seeing pet tattoos on other people and hearing the stories behind them. Ultimately I decided against getting one because, due to some bad luck, I worried my body would become a pet cemetery of sorts. (Let's face it, this thought is both morbid and awful but also tragic-funny.) I may get a pet tattoo one day but for now I'm indulging in pet art in other ways. For example, I made a denim jacket with a big picture of my old cat wearing a crown on the back. It's like membership in a random motorcycle club of cat ladies and cat zaddies!!

I hope you get the tattoo -- but no pressure -- and please do show us a pic if you do!
posted by smorgasbord at 2:13 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]

I have my first dog's pawprint tattooed on my right foot - both because she used to step on my foot all the time, and because she walked at my side through so much of my life. I got it around 2016 and it still makes me smile to see it. She is still with me - she would be whether or not I had this tattoo, true, but I appreciate the visual reminder. She was my constant through so much change in my young adult life.

I haven't yet done it, but I'm planning on getting my current pup's paw tattooed above my left knee, where she puts her paw if I'm not as swift as she'd like in sharing my food with her.

My condolences on your loss.
posted by DingoMutt at 3:50 PM on January 28

I was going to get a tattoo of my beloved cat who passed a few years back - it would complete a collection of animals around my shoulders. And I haven't 100% ruled it out - but the negative space, it turns out, is enough to hold the memory.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:28 PM on January 28

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