I think you could do a funeral pyre, where you just run a very hot fire with his body on a platform.
I can't think of a way to do it where you can retain the ashes - and to get them to the powdery ash consistency that we are used to seeing from a crematorium you have to usually crush the bone fragments. I don't think I would like to do that.
I have a special cemetery for my girls. If it is winter when they die I keep them in the freezer until the ground is ready. I usually save an egg that they have laid and a feather.
I'm with Spotted Crow about the body being a vessel, but I also like the thought of keeping their bodies close, too.
When I lost 2 beloved cats to old age I buried them deeply, wrapped in biodegradable materials, then planted asiatic lilies and other flowers at the correct depth for the flowers. In 3 years, when I had to move, I dug us the flowers and took them with us to the new house. Now we have Pookie's lilies in one flower bed and Scooter's daisies in another bed. Their bodies are with us, reborn into a new form. And their memories stay strong each spring and summer.
I know this is an old thread and I really just registered to tell you all how kind you are in your responses. I am really impressed with the beautiful thoughtful and non judgmental responses to someone grieving. I came across this site because I lost my cat of 20 yrs in the middle of winter this year. I have no land. I live in an apartment in a big city. It's times like these I really miss small town and country life. I spent many summers on farms and small towns and loved it, because I am small town at heart. Born in a small town.
Anyway, I have no land to bury her, and I don't want her cremated with a bunch of other animals. I don't think it fair to her, me or other pet owners who pay lots of money to have something of their beloved and often times get really nothing of their own pets. This kind of thing really bothers me.
So, until I can find someone able to handle me cremating her myself on their land by their lake or river, which is where the fire pits usually are, my beloved furry friend of 20 yrs is wrapped in a special towel and in a box in my freezer, taking up more than a third of the space there. I just don't know what else to do. But I want a bit of her with me always, and I want to be loving and respectful to her as she was to me for all those years. I know I need to let her go, by getting her out of the freezer. ( I don't eat frozen food much at all, so that's not an issue, but I do use ice a lot for my cola addiction.) So I open that freezer door every day pretty much knowing there is unfinished work of love to be done.
Anyway, I hope I can convince a friend to let me do this (cremation) because I think it's the best option given my living circumstances. I am also without any family, so I don't have any blood relatives who own land, therefore burial really isn't an option anyway.