Do Cats Go To Heaven Catholic?

The question of whether animals have souls and can go to heaven in Catholicism has been debated for centuries. Though the Bible provides some clues, there is no definitive answer stated explicitly. Over the years, theologians and saints have offered varying perspectives based on reason, Church teachings, and theological principles. While the Catechism affirms that animals have a “soul” in the generic sense of a life principle, it does not state whether animal souls are immortal like human souls. The implications of this question extend to how we treat animals, the order of creation, and the nature of the afterlife. While there is no absolute consensus, most Catholic thought concludes that animals do not have immortal souls or self-awareness needed to enjoy heaven’s beatific vision, yet God’s mercy and plans for restoring creation suggest animals may exist in some form in the age to come.

Biblical References

The Bible contains several passages that refer to animals having spirits or souls. In Genesis 1:30, God grants all animals green plants for food, suggesting He values their lives. Ecclesiastes 3:21 poses the existential question – “Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” This implies animals have spirits.

In Psalm 36:6, David notes God’s care for animals: “Lord, you preserve both man and beast.” Psalm 104 depicts God’s providence over all creatures. Psalm 148 calls on all living things to praise God. Several verses refer to the redemption of animals, including Isaiah 11:6-9, Romans 8:18-23, and Revelation 22:1-5.

While the Bible focuses on human salvation, it affirms God’s love for all creation. The existential question in Ecclesiastes implies animals have eternal spirits, though biblical eschatology centers on humanity. Christians disagree on definitive biblical proof about animal souls. But there are hints animals share in redemption.

Views of Saints

Some Catholic saints have expressed views on whether animals have souls and go to heaven. St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment, preached to birds and animals and saw them as his brothers and sisters under God. According to one account, St. Francis said, “Not only do they possess the power of feeling, but also that of understanding…God has given them a body adapted to the situation in which they are placed.” This suggests St. Francis believed animals have souls.

Another perspective comes from St. Bonaventure, a Franciscan theologian in the 13th century. He stated that animals can earn merits that will benefit them in the afterlife, which implies an animal soul. However, most saints do not directly address the question of animal souls. The overall implication seems to be that some saints allowed for the possibility of animal souls and an afterlife for them.

Some key sources on the views of St. Francis include:

St. Francis, as well as a cat, helped me understand the souls of animals

Animals in Heaven?

Pope’s Comments

The Catholic Church has not taken an official stance on whether animals can go to heaven. However, recent popes have made comments suggesting animals may have eternal souls. In 2014, Pope Francis comforted a distraught boy whose dog had died, telling him “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.” According to the New York Times, this remark sparked debate about whether the Pope believes animals have souls that live on after death.

Pope John Paul II appeared to express a similar view in 1990 when he proclaimed that animals do have souls and are “as near to God as men are.” This contrasted with the perspective of Pope Pius IX in the 19th century, who stated animals have no consciousness or souls after death. Overall, recent Popes seem to lean towards the possibility that animals’ souls continue after death, though no definitive theological stance has been taken.

Catechism Teachings

The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses the question of whether animals have souls. According to the Catechism, “Animals…have a soul, which cannot survive the death of the body. Respect for laws governing the natural world and animal life is [a manifestation] of fidelity to the Creator” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2416-2418).

This indicates that the Catholic Church teaches animals do have souls, but they are mortal souls tied to their earthly bodies. Animals’ souls die with their bodies and do not live on in an afterlife as human immortal souls do. The Catechism emphasizes showing respect for animals during their earthly lives, but does not suggest animals will join humans in heaven.

Theological Arguments

There has been much theological debate over whether animals have immortal souls like humans. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image” (CCC 2416). Yet the Catechism does not definitively state whether animals have eternal souls.

St. Thomas Aquinas argued that animal souls are dependent on matter and cease to exist at death, unlike human rational souls that are spiritual and immortal (Catholic Answers). Other theologians like St. John Paul II stated that “animals possess a soul” and are “as near to God as men are” (Simply Catholic). Ultimately, the question of whether animals have immortal souls remains open for theological debate.

Some key arguments against animal souls include:

  • Animals lack reason and intellect, unlike human souls created in God’s image.
  • Scripture focuses salvation history on human beings rather than animals.
  • The prospect of animal souls in heaven could diminish the uniqueness of human dignity.

Arguments in favor of animal souls include:

  • God’s mercy and love extends to all creation, not just humanity.
  • Animals have value to God as stated in Scripture.
  • The redemption of all creation is suggested in Romans 8.

While the Catholic Church has not issued an definitive teaching on the subject, theological views remain varied on whether animals have eternal souls or simply mortal life.


If animals were found to have eternal souls that survive death, it would significantly impact Catholic doctrine and theology. The Catechism currently teaches that animals, as material creatures, do not have spiritual and therefore immortal souls like humans (1). However, the question of whether animals have souls and go to heaven remains open for debate.

Some of the implications if animals do have eternal souls include:

  • Animals would be subject to divine judgment, being held accountable for their actions.
  • The theological belief that humans possess a unique, special status above animals would need to be reconsidered.
  • Concepts of sainthood and redemption may be extended to animals.
  • Ideas about the afterlife and heaven would expand to incorporate animals.
  • Animal welfare and dignity would take on even greater significance.
  • Humans may have more ethical duties and stewardship responsibilities for animals.

In summary, the idea of animal souls would require re-evaluating assumptions about human and animal natures as well as relations between them. It could lead to an elevated moral view of animals and a rethinking of humanity’s place in creation (2). More study would be needed to fully understand the ramifications for Catholic beliefs.

Pastoral Perspectives

Many pastors and priests acknowledge the grief that people experience over deceased pets and provide pastoral guidance on praying for them. While the Catechism does not definitively state that animals have eternal souls, it emphasizes God’s love for all of creation.

Fr. Patrick Mary Briscoe, OP notes that we can entrust our deceased pets to God’s mercy and providence, praying “Lord, if it is Your will, please take care of my pet” (source). He explains “we have reason to hope that God in his omnipotence and love will rectify the deficiencies animals suffer in this life…and grant them some share of eternal life.”

Fr. Gary Lauenstein, CSFN advises grieving pet owners to “celebrate the life you shared with your pet and feel confident in entrusting its soul to the infinite love and mercy of God” (source). He affirms that our relationships with pets can give us “glimpses of unconditional love” reflecting God’s love for us.

While avoiding definitive declarations, pastors emphasize praying for deceased pets as an expression of hope in God’s mercy. They provide spiritual guidance to grieving pet owners rooted in Catholic teachings on creation and divine love.

Concluding Thoughts

In summary, there is a diversity of views within Catholicism on whether animals go to heaven. The Bible does not explicitly address the issue, though some verses point to animals having souls. Church fathers like St. Augustine believed animal souls perish at death, while St. Francis of Assisi saw animals as fellow creatures of God. Recent Popes have made compassionate statements about pets being in heaven, but these are not formal doctrines. The Catechism emphasizes God’s care for all creation but does not definitively settle the question. Theological arguments can be made both for and against animals having eternal souls like humans. This is an issue where there is room for debate and differing perspectives among faithful Catholics.

Overall, the core Catholic teachings focus on human salvation and the hope of eternal life for people who love God. The question of whether animals have an afterlife requires speculation about matters not fully revealed. However, Catholics can find comfort in believing that a loving God who cares for sparrows and lilies of the field will not abandon the animals He created. While we cannot know the full state of heaven, we can trust in God’s benevolent mercy and the promise that one day God will be “all in all.”

Further Resources

For more comprehensive information on the Catholic perspective on whether animals go to heaven, check out the following resources:

  • Do animals have souls like human beings? – This article on Catholic Answers provides an in-depth look at the theological reasoning behind the Catholic belief that animals do not have immortal souls.
  • Animals in Heaven – EWTN examines what Scripture and Tradition have to say about animals in the afterlife.
  • The question of animals in heaven – A thoughtful discussion from Catholic News Agency on whether our pets could join us in the afterlife.
  • Will Our Pets Be in Heaven? – This in-depth look from Catholic Education Resource Center includes perspectives from saints and theologians.

Checking out these well-researched Catholic resources can provide more insight into the reasoning and theology around animals and the afterlife.

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