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So you came home and found your beloved pet dead. Our condolences. We feel your pain. But what to do now? You can't just leave it there. The Black Table has your answers. Here's what your going to do next.

1. You need to call someone close to you. If a boyfriend/girlfriend/roommate hasn't been through this, they still need to attend because there are hands to be held and tissues carried. If you don't think this applies to you with your strong façade, I dare you to hail a cab with one hand carrying a pet carrier in the other. They need to be around to tell you that every coworker or acquaintance that says this "isn't the same as family" is wrong.

2. You need to call a professional. If it's past business hours in the five boroughs, you only have one option: The Animal Medical Center. It's an expensive option, though; the walk-in fee is $120, and everything is extra. During business hours (9 am to 3:30 pm in this case), there is also the Humane Society of New York with a walk-in fee of $30. Your local vet may be able to counsel you but may not be your final stop.

3. Get there. The most inconspicuous way to bring your dead pet in is via cab in a pet carrier. Cover the carrier with a towel or pillow to inhibit anyone -- annoying cab drivers or small children if you take public transit -- from asking to 'pet the kitty.'

4. Take your time with the vet. This is the last time you'll see your pet. Ask any dumb question you have; vets, by law, cannot actually call you questions "dumb." You're going to have to decide if you need remains in an urn or a cardboard container. Or if a group cremation would be OK. The price difference between a private and group cremation at the Humane Society is about 90 bucks, from $150 to $60. If you do a group cremation, you will still receive a certificate that says the pet's name and that everyone was done to code. But you will receive no remains.

5. Avoid the bathroom at the Humane Society. Worse than KGB Bar's or a fraternity house.

6. Grieve. If acquaintances or coworkers offer kittens, refuse; you're not ready yet. Like lite radio or all those self-help books we all mock, you've got to honor the relationship. If that means earth mother dirty hippie stuff to you, or just avoiding the Bill Murray-voiced Garfield movie, do it. Whatever it takes. Remind the boyfriend/girlfriend/roommate now would be a good time to buy you a couple drinks. Avoid blind dates. Take care.


Martha Burzynski recently mourned the loss of her cat, Sophie, and is currently accepting vodka tonics.

This story is dedicated to the memory of Wu-Tang, beloved cat of Black Table editor Will Leitch.