FixNation’s Day of the Dead Altar Honors Departed Cats
FixNation made its 7th appearance at LA’s annual Dia de los Muertos celebration at Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Saturday, October 29, an event that draws tens of thousands of visitors each year. From noon to midnight, visitors flocked to FixNation’s cat-themed memorial altar. The altar incorporated a number of traditional Dia de los Muertos elements representing earth, wind, fire and water, as well as incense, marigolds and elaborately decorated skull masks and figurines.
The owners of Hollywood Forever came to FixNation years ago to spay and neuter all the community cats living on the cemetery grounds. Thanks to their generosity, we’ve been able to give animal lovers a chance to honor the memories of cats that have been an important part of their lives.
The altar honored Cecil the Lion, who was tragically murdered in Zimbabwe last year, and Tiger, a pet cat killed with a bow and arrow by a Texas veterinarian in 2015. There were also framed photos of hundreds of deceased pet cats and homeless “community cats” that have touched the lives of FixNation staff and supporters.
For the first time, this year’s altar featured memorial prayer ribbons. Hundreds of visitors to the altar wrote the name of their cat and often a heartfelt message on a length of ribbon and tied it onto one of two trees representing the “Tree of Life,” the theme of this year’s Dia de los Muertos event. Prayer ribbons are a centuries-old tradition in different parts of the world. As the ribbons flutter in the breeze, the prayers written on them are symbolically lifted to the heavens. The prayer ribbons will later be blessed and burned in a private ceremony attended by FixNation staff and supporters.
FixNation provided ribbons in a rainbow of bright colors for people who wanted to memorialize their pet cats, as well as teal-colored ribbons reserved especially for community cats. There are an estimated one million homeless cats living in Los Angeles, and we wanted to provide a way to remember and honor them, too.
For many who stopped by, the evening was an emotional and even cathartic experience, an opportunity to express their love for a beloved kitty. An untold number of city residents feed and look after community cats, many of whom often disappear and are never seen again. This event was a wonderful opportunity for these caregivers to express their sense of loss in a very visual and inspiring way. Homeless cats, whether they’re ferals or former pets that were abandoned or became lost, deserve to be celebrated just as much as pet cats.
As the sun went down, more and more people came to the altar to pay their respects to departed feline friends. Twinkling lights added to the effect, as more and more ribbons were added to the Trees of Life throughout the evening. By 8 pm, every single branch on this tree was completely covered with ribbons…and there were still 4 more hours to go!
This year’s beautiful and completely unique memorial altar was an enormous success, with an added surprise towards the very end—special recognition from the event’s judges! Our sincere thanks to all our volunteers and to everyone who visited the altar. Los Angeles is definitely a city of cat lovers.