Thursday, February 21, 2013
I was planning on showcasing interesting cat photography from around Paris, but that all changed when I came across an unusual photo of a feline tombstone.
The grave, along with thousands of other pet memorials, can be found at Le Cimetière des chiens (Cemetery of Dogs), located in Asnières-sur-Seine, just on the outskirts of Paris. The cemetery is one of the oldest and largest public pet burial sites in the world, and while some may view it as morbid, I think it's quite interesting to see how people have paid tribute to their dearly departed felines throughout the years.
Paris for Visitors reveals that the Cimetière des chiens was founded by attorney Georges Harmois and journalist Marguerite Durand in 1899. They conceived the project after Paris city government passed a law declaring that deceased pets could not be thrown in the garbage or dumped in the Seine, but had to be buried in hygienic graves at least 100 meters from the nearest dwelling.
Today, it is the final home of over 40,000 animals, including cats, dogs, bunnies, and even a lion! Arguably, its most famous resident is the original canine who played Rin Tin Tin. The German Shepherd was brought back to France to be buried after his death in 1932.
According to the photographer, the epitaph above reads:
"To Ramses, you are my cat, exceptional and so sweet. Paws and hands clasped, we have lived nine and a half years of love and of complicity but also suffering. Your absence is cruel and hard to bear. God help us. If your grave is abandoned then I'll be near you forever in my heart. -- Your Mom"
It should come as no surprise that the cemetery, which has been called everything from, "the most appealing graveyard in France" to "the strangest place I've ever been," is also home to some very live feline residents. A colony of feral cats have a shelter on the grounds, and are looked after by volunteers.
The French government has classified Cimetière des chiens as a historical monument, however various reports suggest that it has fallen on hard times in recent years, and is in danger of closing.
If you're not planning on taking a trip to France anytime soon, the oldest and largest pet cemetery in the United States is Hartsdale Canine Cemetery in Hartsdale, NY. The site was founded in 1896, and is the final resting spot of over 70,000 beloved pets.
Sources: Official Site, Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques (Wikipedia), Paris for Visitors, Lost & Fond
Previously: Around the World in 80 Cats 1 - 24
Know of any cat-themed travel destinations, or have any cool kitty vacation pics to share? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!