Theology and Pets


I have a few questions about pets. I’ve searched the forums for the answers, and may have found them, but the answers are “Yes, No, Maybe so.”

Do pets go to heaven? If not, is it because they are not immortal souls? If their souls are not immortal, then where does it go? If the pets do go to heaven, what is the theological reasoning behind this conclusion? is it morally acceptable to euthanize pets if they do, in fact go to heaven? if they go elsewhere? If so, why? If not, why?

Three years ago,I lost a beloved family pet, a massive St. Bernard. William, the dog, had so much personality, so much “sparkle.” One day, we came downstairs, and found him in pain. his stomach had turned, and his digestive track was, well, not in functioning condition. his death was slow and painful, but we had him euthanized. Things like this, the loss of a pet, are such emotional moments, such profound and afecting moments, that I couldn’t see how pets don’t go to heaven.


No, pets do not go to Heaven. You are correct only human beings have an immortal soul. Their soul simply ceases to exist.


Of course only humans have immortal souls, but officilly the Church has never declared the possibility of animals in Heaven.

Who knows…eye has not seen and ear has not heard.

And even if there are no pets in Heaven, they may return for the second Heaven/Earth when this one expires.


I had heard that the donkey that carried Mary to Bethlehem was canonized, is this a lie?

Is it also true that there was one Pope who made his donkey a cardinal?

These may just be anti-Catholic propaganda from the reformation that has become part of the popular mythology that surrounds Catholicism, I’m not sure.


No pets do not go to Heaven. They do not have spiritual souls, they have only a material soul.

See CCC 355-356 “Of all visible creatures only **man is “able to know and love his creator”. **He is “the **only **creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake”, and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life.”

It ceases to exist when the pet dies. The material soul is only the life principle. Death ends it.

See CCC 362-368 which discussed soul and spiritual soul. Only the spiritual soul is immortal.

They do not go to Heaven.

Yes, it is moral to euthanize a pet. They do not have a spiitual soul and their suffering has no meaning or redemptive value as it does for a human with a spiritual soul.

See CCC 2415-2417

Animals are not made for Heaven. Humans are made for Heaven. They have only a material soul, not an immortal spiritual soul.

CCC 2418 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. **


The best explanation I have heard is that animals do not have an immortal soul, therefore they cease to exist after they die. However, if they were a creature that was dear to our hearts, and it would truly make us happy to have them around us, God will recreate them for us in heaven. Heaven is where we are going to be totally, perfectly happy, and if you’re an animal-lover, total happiness must include some four-footed friends! :smiley:


That may be a nice sentiment but it is not founded in Catholic doctrine.

This, actually, is an insult to the Beatific Vision. Heaven itself, the knowing that gives bliss, is sufficient for all our happiness. You have the wrong idea of happiness if you think it is like earthly happiness.


Let’s also note that because pets don’t have an immortal soul, they may exist in heaven. Got can just “recreate” the pet, exactly as it was before it died, reconstituting it ex nihilo if He wants. It could be the exact same pet, just like it was “transported” in time and place to heaven.

My personal opinion is that He won’t (for the same reason we won’t be sexual beings in heaven; sex and pets are just shadows of the love we’ll see in the beatific vision, and won’t be needed in heaven) but there is nothing, fundamentally, that prevents Him from doing so (whereas with humans, there is).



It doesn’t contradict any Catholic doctrine, either. Note that even the descriptions of heaven in the Bible describe a place with animals; the lion lying with the lamb, etc. There is no reason why God could not simply recreate a beloved family pet as a gift to those who would like to see it again.



I believe animals have souls. I don’t believe they are created in God’s image like us, but I believe they have souls. And to my knowledge the Bible, nor Catholic councils have never declared that animals will not be in heaven or have souls.


As earlier posters have said, animals do have souls. However they are mortal souls which cease to exist when the animal dies. Animals do not go to Heaven however much pet lovers would like to think otherwise.


Let me clarify what I meant: if we need some animals around to be truly happy in heaven, God will create them for us. If we don’t, then He won’t, and we won’t notice, because we’ll be perfectly happy anyways. I tend to lean towards the first myself, just as a matter of opinion, and, since the Church has spoken neither one way or the other, I think I’m free to believe that, as long as I don’t put the love of an animal before a person or God. We really won’t know for sure till we get to heaven.


This is key. How can any of us possibly put limitations on God’s power, or claim to know everything that goes on in the mind of God? How many of us can even claim to have perfect knowledge of all of Church doctrine? :slight_smile:

**Crazy Internet Junkies Society (Mudgie/Junkie Hybrid)
**Carrier of the Angelic Sparkles Sprinkle Bag


If we “need” pets to be happy in Heaven, the we aren’t actually ready for Heaven.

In that case, we won’t be in Heaven yet-- we’ll more likely still be in Purgatory until we are ready to see God and have him alone fill us.


I’m not saying this to be argumentative, but is this statement backed up by any doctrine, or at least a couple solid Church-father teachings and the like?

Either way, we’ll find out when we die, right? If I’m right, they’ll be animals running around heaven. If you’re right, I’ll be cleansed of my earlier theory before entering heaven. Either way, yay! Heaven! :smiley:


I think everyone knows that we will be completely happy in the Beatific Vision, and have no other needs to be truly happy.

Yet, the “if God sees that the pets will make us happy then he will provide them” is a great line to use to comfort kids grieving the loss of a pet. It doesn’t tell them that pets have immortal souls, while affirming that our happiness depends on God. WE know that God’s vision is all we need, but an eight-year-old may not easily swallow that through the tears.


See my previous Catechism citations that state man alone is called to share in God’s own life. That is the Beatific Vision.

See also the Catechism citation regarding man’s use of animals as food and domestic beasts of burden. That same section clearly states that man should not direct to them the affection due only to humans.

The Church’s teaching regarding the lack of a spiritual soul of animals is clear. The Church’s teaching that only man is destined for Heaven is clear. The Church’s teaching that pets should not receive the affection due only to human persons is clear.

The idea that we “need” pets in Heaven or we “love our pets so much” that Heaven would not be complete without pets is to give pets affection due only to persons. It is disorderd. That is my opinion derived from the teachings of the Catechism on animals in general and pets in particular.


I don’t think so.

Yes. Immortality is a quality of God- not of creatures. God gave us this quality as a gift when he made us.

Nowhere- it no longer exists.


Yes- though animal cruelty is immoral.


They are animals. Though they are not humans, they feel real pain, and we have a responsibility for caring for them- that includes euthanizing them to end their suffering, or to control their population.

They are a gift for us on earth. There is no need for them in heaven. Enjoy the animals while they are here (whether they be in the wild, in your backyard, on your plate, or on your coat rack), and preserve nature so that they will be here for generations and generations to come- so that all of mankind can see the beauty of God’s creation.


As has been said by others, animals have material souls which cease to exist when they are no longer alive.

It is possible, however, that God could re-create animals at the end of time in some way. They could not have the Beatific Vision, however, nor anything requiring a spiritual existence.


This discusion always makes me wonder why in the garden of eden (before the fall of Adam) did God create animals if they where never part of the master plan?

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