‘Alice the rat was so special’: readers on their brilliant, beloved pet tattoos

During the pandemic, every pet became an emotional support animal – and many people decided they wanted to commemorate them indelibly and incredibly

‘My double rex rat was the natural choice for my first tattoo’

Alice was a double rex rat we adopted from the local RSPCA. She was such a special girl and we had a great bond, so she was the natural choice for my first tattoo. Sadly, Alice died earlier this year, so I’m getting a second tattoo in tribute in a couple of weeks, on the spot where she loved to sit.
Sarah, student, Greater Manchester

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Lindsay’s cat
Lindsay and cat Photograph: Image supplied by reader
Person in shorts with cat faces tattooed on legs
Lindsay’s cats Wilson and Meg Photograph: Image supplied by reader

‘A shoelace is in her mouth, but it could be a rat’s tail’

When our old cat Wilson was diagnosed with a brain tumour and had to be put down, I knew I wanted to get a tribute tattoo. He was such an amazing, cuddly, loving old lad. I was going to Berlin for a long weekend and found an artist who did the style I had in mind, so I made an appointment. I never told my partner I was getting one of our current cat, Meg, at the same time – so it was a complete surprise when I got home. The thing hanging out of her mouth is a shoelace, her favourite toy – although it could be mistaken for a rat’s tail, which would be equally apt. It may seem soppy to get a pet tattoo, but they’re such a huge part of our family that I think they deserve it.
Lindsay, partnerships manager, Bristol

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Dionne and Cain
Dionne and Cain Photograph: Image supplied by reader
Dionne's dog Cain
Dionne’s dog Cain Photograph: Image supplied by reader

‘I got a tattoo of my dog on my chest, close to my heart’

I decided to get a big portrait done of my boy, Cain. He’s 21 in July and I’ve had him for 10 years. I’ve been through some of the most stressful years of my life with him, so to keep him close to my heart I got a tattoo of him on the left side of my chest. It was done by Lucie at Black Swan Tattoo Studio in Sunderland and is really special to me.
Dionne Clark-Patterson, student, Sunderland

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Laura's memorial tree
Laura’s memorial tree Photograph: Image supplied by reader

‘I am getting my cat’s ashes mixed with the ink’

I have several cat tattoos, but my memorial tree is special: each cat on it is a cat of mine that has died. I have two more to add to it, lost during lockdown, and I am having the ashes of the one I most recently lost mixed with the ink. I also have a tattoo on my back of a small black cat playing with a larger one which I got done before my wedding, as I could not take my cats with me. My husband says they don’t look anything like ours and that I had the neighbour’s cats inked on me for our wedding. Laura Miller, private tutor, Essex

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Mainly white cat with black ears miaowing next to arm of owner with cat tattoo
Lucy’s cat Kevin and his ink counterpart Photograph: Image supplied by reader

‘Kevin is a legend of a cat’

I have two tattoos inspired by my cat, Kevin: a portrait of his face on my leg, which was done recently, and his paw print on my hand. Kevin is a legend of a cat – he’s so loving and he follows me everywhere. I got him during a time of bad anxiety and he’s stuck with me.
Lucy Openshaw, cleaner, Grimsby

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Two ferrets standing on edge of cage
Ben the ferret, as a British navy admiral
Ben the ferret, as a British navy admiral Photograph: Image supplied by reader

‘When I first saw the design, I almost cried’

This is a tattoo of my ferret, Ben, dressed as a British navy admiral. It was done by my friend Zoë Brookes, a Seattle-based tattoo artist. When I first moved here, my partner and I discussed having some sort of pet, but he’s allergic to cats and we weren’t allowed dogs at our apartment, so we decided on ferrets. I volunteered at the Washington Ferret Rescue and Shelter to learn how to care for them; that’s where I found Ben. We fostered him for several happy years, until he passed away from liver cancer. One of Ben’s nicknames with us was “Admiral Benbow”, so that was what prompted this design for my tattoo commemorating him. When Zoe showed me the design, I almost cried because her work really captured his expression and personality – he was funny, goofy, and incredibly lovable and sweet.
JC Lau, game developer, Seattle

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Lucy’s cats Circe and Juno
Lucy’s cats Circe and Juno Photograph: Image supplied by reader

‘I had a “now or never” moment and took the plunge’

A month ago, I got my first tattoo, of my cats Circe and Juno. I’d been wanting to get a tattoo for 13 years, but had never seen anything that truly sparked joy until I discovered a wonderful tattoo artist named Kiera, who specialises in cats and other animals. I knew as soon as I saw her work that I wanted one of my girls. When I saw she was leaving the country, I had a “now or never” moment and took the plunge. I sent Kiera some pictures of my cats, told her I loved her celestial motifs, and she did the rest. It’s a gorgeous design that I will treasure for ever.
Lucy Pallett, bid writer, High Wycombe

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Jeff’s dog Trouble
Jeff’s dog Trouble Photograph: Image supplied by reader

‘I show my dog her portrait often; she’s never impressed’

This is a portrait of my dog, Trouble. She’s my best friend and the sweetest creature that’s ever lived on this earth. I could not imagine life without her. I show her the portrait often, but she’s never impressed.
Jeff Neuman, musician and lawyer, Oregon

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Clare’s dog Elwood
Clare’s dog Elwood Photograph: Image supplied by reader

‘I see him there and feel like he’s still a part of me’

This is Elwood, my first ever pet and a beloved member of our family. He was constantly shedding hair, clingy and annoying – but also loving, loyal and always happy to see us. In 2019 we had to put Elwood down and we were devastated. I felt like our family shrank from four to three. I had wanted to get a tattoo of Elwood for a long time, so when he died I booked it in. It’s lovely to see him there and feel like he’s still a part of me. Minus the shedding hair, thankfully.
Clare Lombardi, marketing director, Australia

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Rosa's havanese dog Tuco
Rosa’s havanese dog Tuco Photograph: Image supplied by reader

‘I wanted to wear his face on my left arm for ever’

This is Tuco, my beloved havanese. He is almost seven years old and will be a life companion to me and my wife, Diana. He represents love, care, joy, tenderness and most of all, family. Because of this, I decided to wear his face on my left arm for ever. Rosa Suárez, journalist and digital project manager, Spain

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Louis's paw print

‘He was my best friend and my soulmate’

Louis came into my life when he was 12 weeks old. He was a blue roan cocker spaniel with a real love for life and a constantly wagging little tail. We went everywhere together; he was my best friend and my soulmate. I had the privilege of sharing my life with him for 17 amazing years, until February 2021. The pet crematorium took some brilliant prints of his paw for me and, as soon as the tattoo studio was allowed to reopen, I had Louis’ paw print tattooed on my ankle, with a splash of watercolour. Caroline Pater, Kent


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