For many people, the death of a pet is like the loss of a family member. It can be tough saying goodbye to such a close companion.
But some believe that death may not be the end and that advances in medical science will allow them to bring their pet back life.
These people put their faith in cryonics, the process of cooling and preserving a body after death in the hope that at some point in the future they will live again.
You may have heard about cryonics, or cryogenics, in relation to humans being kept in liquid nitrogen but you may not know that in some facilities pets outnumber humans.
The Cryonics Institute in the US says in April it had 151 human ‘patients’ and 136 pets, so dogs, cats and birds are getting close to the number of people. There is another facility in the US and one in Russia that also accept pets.
The cost of pet cryonics
It is much cheaper to freeze a pet than a person, although it still costs a bit.
Prices for dogs and cats start at around £4,500 but it only costs about £800 to preserve a bird. There’s also an ongoing membership fee for most cryonics companies, which is around £100 a year.
Pet owners in the UK may need to pay a bit more to fly an animal to one of the facilities.
It costs about £30,000 to cryogenically preserve a human.
It’s thought that most pets kept at cryonics sites are owned by people who also plan to be kept on ice after death. Presumably, they feel that if they are resuscitated it will be a comfort to also revive a furry friend to help them adjust to life in a brave new world.
Does pet or human cryonics work?
Of course, it’s important to note that there is no evidence humans or animals will be able to be brought back to life in the future and some people may have ethical concerns about preserving the body of an animal in such a way.
In 2016, Clive Coen, a professor of neuroscience at King’s College London, told The Guardian: “The main problem is that [the brain] is a massively dense piece of tissue. The idea that you can infiltrate it with some kind of anti-freeze and it will protect the tissue is ridiculous.”
Cryonics companies do not ask for any procedures to be carried out while the person or pet is alive but they do say anyone interested in the preservation of a body should sign up in good time before death.
Can insurance cover cryonics?
One way to pay for human cryonics is through life insurance. The payout on death can cover the high cost of the service. Although there is no life insurance for pets, general pet insurance may be able to help cover some costs.
Bought By Many’s pet insurance has one of the highest cover levels for death from accident or illness – up to £6,000 with our Complete policy. Cover for death is designed to cover the original cost of the animal but you can use it any way you want.
Most other companies also offer some form of death cover, sometimes as an optional extra. You can see the best pet insurance policies here.
The numbers of people using cryonics for their pets is very small but it is gaining in popularity. In fact, sometimes pets are kept in the same preservation containers as their owners to save space.
Would you do it?
If you had the money would you send your pet to a cryonics centre in the hope it may live again? Or do you think it’s more important to enjoy the time you have together while they’re alive and then cherish the memories you created?