One Sunday the vicar who was preaching at the church I was visiting told of a member of the congregation who had asked him whether if his dog died, it would go to heaven.
The vicar had told the dog owner that in order for his dog to go to heaven, it had to have a soul, and nowhere in the Bible did it say that animals have souls.
I can only share my experiences with my cats, and the experiences of others who are more gifted in the mystical and spiritual realms.
I once had a cat, Sophie. At the age of 14 (we think it was 14 because she was a rescue who had been moved from home to home) she developed cancer. There was a tumour and something to do with her liver. She shrank, became a shadow of her previously chunky self.
I started looking for a cure. Cures. The vet gave her three months. I refused to accept his diagnosis. I tried alternative therapies: CV247, homeopathy, and various healers. There was some remission.
During those three months something happened. Maybe it was the way in which she looked into my eyes everytime I took her to the healer, or the way she purred even though she was in discomfort. Maybe it was the way she tucked gratefully into the home-prepared food I had made for her.
Somehow, it’s hard to explain, but in those three months, Sophie went from being a Cat with a Personality to a Being.
Sophie died in my arms one morning. After she died, there was a long silence and suddenly I heard a bee striking a window in a bid to escape. I opened the window and the bee flew away into the garden.
A friend lovingly summed up Sophie and my experience: God sends us angels in many forms, to teach us about love and loving. Sometimes these angels just happen to be dressed in furry outfits. That’s the only explanation I have for how a little cat burrowed her way into my heart and made me feel deeply for her.
I also found solace in reading the website of Brother Steindl-Rast on angels and animals.
So do cats have souls? I think that if you were to judge a being by the fruits of his spirit, then our pets, who only give us love and enable us to show love, are great spirits.
We are all bees striking our heads against a barrier of ignorance and blindness. If God were to open the window of consciousness, would we recognise him in the moment or would we fly away blindly like the bee? If he sends us animals to be our companions, who is to say the animals aren’t angels in disguise, gently leading us to a deepening of love between all living things in the very short time they have with us.