Our relationship with our pet animals


I guess this question has been asked before in one way or another.
I recently had to put my much loved cat to sleep when she got a very agressive cancer. Prior to that I’d been treating her for diabetes for about 18 months with insulin, and would have gladly continued doing so for as long as she lived.
I live on my own, I have no spouse or kids, and no immediate family members living close by. Yes, of course I have friends, and my workmates (co-workers) are the best anyone could dream of having, so I am not some anti-social recluse.
But I dearly loved my cat, as a child-substitute, I guess, and I grieve for her and miss her.
I just read what the Catechism has to say about our relationship with animals, and among the comments is paragraph 2418 " …One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons".

Well, sorry, but I DID probably have every bit as much affection for her as for a person, and the love I gave her and received from her was a blessing for me, as a single person on my own.
Am I comitting some kind of sin, according to the CCC??
It seems a bit harsh to me, but I guess I’l be pilloried for saying that.

If I don’t reply to any responses for a while it’s because I’m off to bed (Friday night, late, here) and won’t be back on here for maybe 24 hours.
Thanks in advance, though, for any thoughts on this subject:)


Here is the entire paragraph in the CCC:

It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons

In the context of this, I would say no you are not committing a sin. You put your cat to “sleep” when it had cancer. If this was a human being, you would not but a human to “sleep” because he/she has cancer no matter what the level of aggressiveness is. This paragraph is looking more into the excessive spending of money to try and cure an animal. I think about it this way, an animal can not understand any benefits of suffering, but we humans can. Therefore it is more humane to end the suffering of an animal instead of prolonging that suffering. I hope this does not sound harsh.


Hey ATe, I don’t see where you committed a sin though giving undue love to an animal, but perhaps you approached the near occassion of sin.

I’m reading St. Robert Bellarmine’s “The Art of Dying Well” and he had a section speaking on detachment. He has a line I though beautiful, “our unnecessary riches are not our own, but belong to the poor”. This part of his text was saying that having weath and pleasure isn’t bad, but we are stewards and must remain conscious of that truth.
If wealth interferes with ones love of God then He will act to take it from us so we can focus love where it is proerly ordered. We can’t love our boat or car more or even as much as God, only less than God.

Similiarly you point out the catechism’s stating “One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.” This is calling to also properly order things. If you had the decision, “save the cat or save a man I’ve never met.” A correctly formed conscious would immediately save the human.

A cat doesn’t have an eternal soul and thus in the grand scheme only has value in this life (as cars, houses, and money do). Loving a cat as one would a person, doesn’t seem sin in itself, but it would tempt us to spend excessive amounts of money, time, and energy in providing for this animal which St. Bellarmine warns against.

This doctor of the church wrote, “Our unnecessary riches are not our own, but belong to the poor”. And thus people who spend 1,000’s of dollars and hundreds of hours in comforting a pet, but don’t spend even just 100’s of dollars or dozens of hours comforting poor and hungry humans…well I’ll just directly quote him, “we are given to understand that the superfluous adornments of [one’s] body with costly garments, and [one’s] daily magnificant banquets, and the multitude of his servants and dogs, while he had no compassion for the poor, was a sufficent cause of [one’s] condemnation to eternal torments.”

I would think that loving a cat as a person would likely lead to some of these excesses. So, if there were a sin it’s in misplacing resources that could have helped the poor. But, it is also okay to put some of our energy and $ into pets, into entertainment, into recreation b/c they help us fuction better and know joy in life. Just not to the neglect of needy people who are are called to love and value more. (it’s about a health balance with God and people > pets and possessions)


My Cocker Spaniel boys are my furkids! :thumbsup: Sorry to hear you had to put your beloved kitty to sleep… my sympathies. :console:


I’m a Pet person (Spoilt Yorkie; loving moggy), and I think there can be great spiritual and human benefits to owning pets, e.g. responsibility, thinking of the needs of something else, necessary social interaction with others not of your preffered social group, opportunities to speak anout the faith, growth in prayer to the animal patrons, and most of all loss and gain. You love you animals in an appropriate way, which usually means that you have to deal with their deaths. This pain can be a great purification of any inordinate attachments, and it can help remind you of what we must of necessity let go of or leave behind. Memento mori.


I would not try to read too much into what you saw in the Catechism. You seem like an intelligent discerning adult Christian. Our furbabies are just that … they have fur & they are our babies.


As long as you’re not ignoring the people in your life, there’s nothing wrong with loving your pets.

Be like St. Francis – he saw the beauty of God’s creation in all created things – including animals. :slight_smile:

I love my cats, and they love me in their own catty way. And they don’t care that I’m not young or pretty or thin – more than I can say for some people. :wink:


Remember also that this “love” refers to an action and not necessarily an emotion.

So yeah, if you consider your pet one of the family, that’s fine. You incur no sin.

But if you have a slice of meat and can either give it to the homeless man begging or a homeless dog, the man must win out. Hopefully I’m making sense here :slight_smile:


Would you have even given a second thought if you had to choose between saving your cat from harm or saving a human from harm? If your house were burning down and you could only save either your cat or your most hated human neighbor, would you have considered saving your cat instead of your human neighbor?

If so, then I think you might have had undue love for your cat. If not, then I don’t think you did. The key point of that passage, I think, is that regardless of how much we love our animals, we should love humans, all humans (even our enemies) more than any animal.



paragraph 2418 " …One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons".

No, you are not committing any sin. The Church advises you not to love your animal above persons. It means that, for example, when comes to a situation that you needs to choose “animal” or “human”, you should go for “human”.

Another example - you have a relative who is about to go homeless, would you want to save some money or something to help your relative …or would you say “I have no money, I need to save it for my cat”? Could you give a bit smaller portion of food to your cat in order to save some money for your relative?

There are many more examples with different issues, but above are just some typical ones that I thought of.


I would give the cat the same portion of food, and take a smaller portion for myself to give some to the relative. :slight_smile:


That’s fine, but what if you don’t have any portion for yourself? :slight_smile:


Then the relative has to share with the cat. If I had no food for myself and only food for the cat, it would undoubtedly be cat food – my relative might not want it. :smiley: If I actually had money to buy food, then I could simply buy food for the three of us. :slight_smile:


Me too.

I’m with Carol Anne here. I’d feed the relative & give my half to my cat.


Cats are not capable of love, nor of responding to love. However they are capable of manipulating the human capacity for love to get food and shelter.

A pet can be a blessing to a lonely person, but it can also be a kind of substitute for real relationships. Anything that damages us is a sin, but you’d have to be some sort of saint to never respond to lack of human company in a negative way. Convincing yourself that a cat has human emotions is very low on the scale of human wickedness, but it is a self-deception.


Firstly, I am sorry for the loss of your Cat… :hug1: I myself am a bird person and have lost 6 birds that I have loved greatly in my lifetime.

I’d have to agree that there is nothing wrong with loving your babies (pets) with the understanding that the love you have for them is much different than that you would have for a human being…

I currently have a pair of Cockatiel birds that are my precious babies but I understand the place of animals in this world and so with this healthy view of God’s creation it is perfectly fine to love your animal babies and to grieve for them when they pass…

My two little trouble-makers below send you many scritches (bird people talk for scratches of affection) and hope that you aren’t sad for too long for your beloved kitty… :heart:

God bless


Dear friend,
I don’t see where what you have found in the Catechism implies you have sinned. You have been compassionate with a member of God’s creation…your cat was no doubt sent into your life (by God) to fill a place of companionship that (as you have pointed out) now stands empty. Here’s hoping and praying that God will send you consolation and another companion to share that friendship and memory with.

Sometimes I find myself quietly blessing my animals (a MinPin and two adopted stray cats) just because they are faithful friends who remind me often that God cares and just how awesome is the creation of God that I see in them.

Sometimes my prayer is, “Dear God, please grant me the simplicity of faith that I see in my animals.” :slight_smile:

We won’t even get into the idea of how many times we all have felt that when it comes to a choice between people and our various animal friends…we have to admit that we prefer the animals. :rolleyes:



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