DIY Ancestor Altar For Cat Lovers

DIY Ancestor Altar For Cat Lovers by Layla Morgan Wilde

If you missed yesterday’s post Black Cat Halloween Video, Interview and Insta Reels Scroll to the end to see our Halloween costume fails.

What is remembered is never lost.

I keep a small ancestral altar all year round as part of a shamanic practice. Every religion and culture has some variation of ancestor veneration. The most vibrant and elaborate example is Dia de los Muertos or Day of The Dead where families hang out dancing, eating and drinking at their ancestors’ graves. This year is especially poignant given the tremendous loss of life globally from the pandemic. It’s healing and life affirming to honor all those we have loved and lost.

As I’m connecting more deeply to my ancestors, I’ve started creating ancestral portraits with or without animals for others. All I need is an old photo or description to radically transform it, breathing new life to your family tree.

Every year close to Halloween, I make large ancestral altars to honor my ancestors but I also make one to honor my dead pets. It’s a personal labor of love that is fun and easy to create. For my cats, I make both indoor and outdoor ones weather permitting. This Instagram reel shows an overview. (It looks distorted on my computer but not mobile).


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You probably have what you need at home but buying a few items is not expensive unless you want to splurge. Place the altar away from open windows or high traffic areas. If your cats are curious (almost all are) be sure to keep only safe, non-toxic items and NO candles unattended.

This year, I kept the altar so full, it was impossible for Odin to jump up. He did pay his respects from the sidelines. He just came in from an adventure and wearing his GPS collar.

ancestral altar for cats at samhain

Altar Building Supplies

  • Table or shelf. Large or small. It can be a coffee table, window sill or hutch. Even a big cardboard box will do.
  • Covering. Table cloth, scarf, throw or fabric of any kind. I used a large silk velvet wrap in a deep burgundy color.
  • Items representing the four elements:
  • 1. Air. Incense, smudge, palo santo wood to burn.
  • 2. Fire. Candles. I like a mix of small white votives and tapers but any size work. Glass hurricanes offer protection from drips and curious noses.
  • 3) Water. Place a small bowl or saucer of water to represent your cats’ dish.
  • 4) Earth. Natural items might include flowers, autumn leaves, pine cones, acorns, plants, stones, crystals, shells. Include a little dish of food, treats and or catnip.


  • altar for cat lovers

I have a huge amount of photos which changes year by year. In the past year, two new angels, Domino and Clyde joined the group. Choose the most meaningful ones for your altar. Even one photo is enough.

  • Photos of the cats. They can be framed or loose. If you have a lot, place an album or create a collage.
  • Art work. Portraits, drawings, a custom mug or item of jewelry. Add a replica or felt mini me, if you have one like my Domino.
  • If you don’t have photos you can place a photo of a similar breed or color cat. I prefer to write a list of their names on a piece of paper or little chalk board.

cats altar

Personal items 

cat lovers altar

  • Cremation remains boxes.
  • Memento boxes. I like to store bits of fur and whiskers in little boxes like my Egyptian mummy pencil tin.
  • Paw print memento.
  • Favorite old toys.
  • Collar or clothing.
  • Birthday cards, memorial cards or letters to your dearly departed. If you’ve never written a letter as part of your grieving process,please do. It’s very healing.
  • I have no cremation boxes since I choose to bury but I included this year, little boxes of fur and whiskers. With human ancestor altars, most add favorite vices of the dead like alcohol or cigarettes. Cats don’t have vices but you could add feline wine or catnip. Keep it sealed up to avoid your cats from jumping up and making a mess.

felted mini cat

The objects with the most energy from use would be collars, toys and favorite bed or blanket. Again, use what you have. I’m a big believer in recycling and re-purposing.

There are no rules. This can be as minimalist or over the top as you wish. It will be appreciated from beyond the veil no matter what.

Altar Maintenance

I keep seasonal indoor altars up for about a week until November 3.  Candles are replaced as needed. Dead flowers are replaced. Plants watered, treats and water bowl kept fresh. To prevent attracting ants or other bugs, place a can of favorite cat food or unopened treat bag.

Outdoor altars are subject to the elements. Keep them tidy as you can but wind, rain and snow will make an impact. As always, fire is a hazard. Take pre-cautions. For Clyde’s grave I was shocked how the paint had already faded in under a year. I’ll touch it up in the spring but there’s nothing like nature to remind us of the impermanence of life.

cat grave

domino cat grave- dia de los muertos

Happy All Hallow’s Eve and Blessed Samhain!

Love always,

Layla, Odin, Nou Nou and the many Angels

I quietly slipped a witch hat on Nou Nou while she napped. It took her a few seconds to realize something was on her head and two seconds later it was off. Always honor your pet’s wishes or else they might put a spell on you 😉

Halloween Cat Costume Fails But Purrfect Anyway. Did you buy your cats a costume? Have you made any DIY cat altars?

nou nou the witch cat hat

Odin happily wears a bulky GPS collar but costumes, forget it. Sometimes I can get a minute of cooperation but this time zilch. And he looked so magical for a moment in his wizard cape. I know Clyde would have rocked it. Oh well.

odin wizard cat witch hat

Does anyone want a barely used wizard costume?

cat wizard halloween costume

7 thoughts on “DIY Ancestor Altar For Cat Lovers”

  1. Layla,
    your alters are so beautiful! We cannot have those at my house, too many rambunctious younguns LOL. I must say when I am long gone if anyone does any work to the yard that involves digging 3 ft or more down is in for a huge surprise. My whole lot is becoming a cemetery. That is part of caring for the Ferals especially. So many are in dire straights health wise that by the time they come to me they have only a short time left. I do try to make it the absolute best time of their life no matter if it is a day or 7300 days each one is precious. Each little soul gets laid to rest.
    Thanks for sharing your alters. They are very personal places.
    Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang and the Angels >^..^^..^<~

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