Can religious have pets?

Hello everyone. Having been around animals all of my life, I was just wondering if friars and monks(or nuns if you will) can own and care for animals in their communities. Br. J.R. mentioned in his profile that he loves cats, but is pet-ownership in religious life an exception rather than a general possibility? I would be grateful for any responses.

Upon my visit to the EWTN Friary, I noticed they had a black dog there named Michelangelo. They take care of him. I also remember reading in a book by a Benedictine monk in the Blue Cloud Monastery that they had a couple dogs and may currently care for one now.

I also noticed the Carthusian monks in the Into Great Silence DVD were taking care of a bunch of cats.

I believe they have to be donated to the whole community and not to be claimed by one specific person, though I am not quite sure of this. I assume some communities allow pets.I know a couple friars at EWTN are allergic to cats so they do not have any cats there.

I would imagine owning a pet would go against the vow of poverty, the community can certainly own animals and there is a great history of them doing so, but individual religious I would guess can’t as they do not own any private property.

I think it depends on your order and your living circumstances. The Sister who runs RCIA at my parish has a dog (although I think that technically the dog is “owned” by all the Sisters). I believe she’s Dominican and shares a house–a real house, owned by the Church, of course, out in a real suburban neighborhood–with several other Sisters. She said the dog used to belong to a priest who had passed away, so they took it in. So obviously the priests are allowed to have pets too.


The monastery of Our Lady of the Angels has a cat named Mikey that lives in the cloister. They say he especially likes to curl up in Mother Angelica’s cell. In Raymond Arroyo’s biography of Mother Angelica, it is mentioned that the nuns had a puppy named Prince when they first moved to Alabama.

The Dominican friars at St. Albert’s Priory in Oakland, California have a turtle in the cloister garden. They also have a koi pond. The fish in this pond are so spoiled that whenever anybody walks by, they stick their heads out of the water and open their mouths wide.

Incidentally, our present Holy Father loves cats, though I don’t know whether he has a cat presently. And Ven. Pius XII was very fond of birds, and kept cages of them. His favorite was a goldfinch named Gretel, who had the run of the papal apartments. Whenever he sat down to a meal, she had a dish of seeds at the table with him.

I forgot to add, it’s interesting seeing all the replies. :slight_smile: I have many pets myself, and although I’m discerning a call to the religious life, I wouldn’t go until they all pass, or if my children take them in (the cats and one of the dogs are already spoken for, but that leaves me a dog, a horse, and a pig).


One of the priests I live with has a pet dog. It all depends on order and the local community.

I must warn people again making assumptions based on how they view the vow of poverty. Each order has their own views of the vows and how they are applied and they may not (most likely they do not) match up with your personal thoughts.

My former pastor, an OMI priest, owned a Samoyed. When he retired the dog accompanied him to the OMI retirement home. So it all depends on the community.

That is so true. Even between provinces of the same congregation there can be major differences.

I’ve experienced one province where nobody has a bank account, everything goes to the province and money is disbursed to each person as necessary.

Then there is the province to which my former pastor belongs where everyone has a bank account and a credit card and they are on the honour system when it comes to what goes to the province in terms of the money they receive.

In my parish we’re getting a new parish priest in a few weeks time. We’re having to have a flap installed for him before he arrives. Obviously he’ll use the door, it’s his cat that’ll use the flap. :smiley:

Hmm… priest flaps. I wonder if there’s a market for such things? :cool:

I would like everyone for their insightful replies. If I enter a religious community(most likely Mount Carmel) rather than study for the secular priesthood, hopefully I will not have to give up my rabbits.

A Trinitarian friar I know keeps rabits from before he entered the community. These kinds of questions are perfectly normal and any vocations director would be happy to answer them for you.

I think it depends on the individual order, as was stated above.
The nuns that taught me in grade school always had several cats at any given time. Cats and nuns sort of go together…lol

The Sr. who taught me in lst grade had birds, fish, mice, lizards, turtles etc. the classrom (all caged, of course) and it made for an excellent learning experience. She also had a ton of plants and flowers and we learned very early on to learn about and appreciate such wonderful things.

That’s probably because cats are Satan incarnate. :wink:

I know of many monasteries and priories that have dogs.

There is no way that Satan can have such a soft and pleasant furry belly.

I do not know of any order that does not permit pets in their community. Friaries and convents here usually have dogs and cats as pets. I also know of a sister who has a pet goat.

In Christ,


I know that the Poor Clares of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Alabama have a couple of dogs-a Lab and a Blue Heeler-in addition to the cat Mikey. I think there are some other cats too. I’ve seen a picture of Mother Angelica with a cat named Frankie in her lap.

Two of the Poor Clares’ foundations-in Arizona and South Carolina (transferred from Ohio) have parakeets, cats and dogs in their monasteries. If you go on their websites, you’ll see them-the animals, that is. Hey, what the heck-they’re Franciscans! :smiley:

I’ve known priests who had dogs. Sometimes their parishes were in inner-city neighborhoods, so the dogs were good for protection. Same with a Carmelite monastery of nuns whom I know; in their former location they had a couple of German shepherds. One of the nuns learned sign language to ‘talk’ to them-to the dogs, that is-during the times of silence.

There’s a convent of traditional Sisters that I also know who have three cats and a cute German shepherd puppy. Whenever they have family members visiting, the dog is brought out on a leash so it can get used to all the noise and activity, especially with the child visitors.

Again, it all depends on the Rule of each individual community!

So the MFVA friars have a big dog named ‘Michelangelo’…I love it! And the ‘Knights of the Blessed Sacrament’ at the Shrine in Hanceville have horses, too!

One of my favorite priests in my area, Fr. Gordon, owns a dog named Sunny. I am not sure if it is a male or a female. I am thinking it is a Golden Retriever but I am not sure.

Pope Benedict sixteen has a cat-or so I have heard. He loves cats! I have four cats-he can have mine :slight_smile:
I heard of several priests who has a dog-so much for man’s best friend-so I think the answer is yes-the religious can and does have pets, depending I guess on what is allowed at their parish/convents.:stuck_out_tongue:

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