Do Animals Go To Heaven?

dirty cat reaches for a person

From time to time, I am posed with an interesting theological question: Do animals go to heaven? We’ve heard people with great sincerity say, “If my dear pet can’t be with me, then I can’t be there.” That sounds extreme, but we shouldn’t criticize such strong emotions. Any of my readers who have owned pets will know this feeling well. It is a topic worth discussing, not that we know the answer for certain. But there are suggestions in Scripture that could point to such a conclusion. In several places, there is the image used that, at the end of time, God will create “new heavens and a new earth” (Rv 21:1; 2 Pt 3:13).

We shouldn’t throw away God’s creation of the universe. In Genesis 1:31, it reads: “God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good.” Indeed, all that God does is truly good. And among those good works are humans, animals, and plants. God is life itself, and we could argue that once God gives life, he would not destroy it.

Out of Love

Sometimes we think that God made us to love him. Yes, but that was not his first reason. We were made so that God could love us. Loving is what God does. Isn’t that why moms and dads have babies? It is not so the baby can love his or her parents.

Rather, it is because the parents have a new little person whom they can love. Out of love, God made us and gave us all of creation. God did that for our sake, so that we could consider how loving our God is.

The theology would hint that heaven and earth are not for God, but for God’s creatures. And, thus, animals that have been so loving and helpful to their owners would be there, too. Some Christians imagine an afterlife where we spend eternity loving and praising God. They say we don’t even need each other—just God. But that is so contrary to all that we know about God and his love and need for us. Aren’t parents most happy when their children are happy and loving one another?

What heaven is like is far beyond our wildest imaginations. Our call on our earthly journey is simply to know, love, and serve God as best we can. But what God has planned for us we cannot conceive.

A Prayer for Our Pets

Loving God,
St. Francis of Assisi showed us
that your family of creation extends
to the birds in the sky,
the fish in the sea,
the dog at my feet,
and the cat on my lap.
For their companionship,
I am grateful.
Because their love is unconditional,
I am humbled.
Thank you for animals, wild or tame
who bring color and warmth
to an often grey and cold world.


21 thoughts on “Do Animals Go To Heaven?”

  1. I believe animals go to heaven, too! I believe God loves them just as He loves us. I believe animals embody pure innocence which is God’s divine nature.

  2. Kevin E Morrison

    I have believed this all my life (close to 70 years now), and I ‘preach’ it every time I encounter someone who is grieving the loss of their pet (recently it was my Manager who lost her frog). I always say, that in Heaven we will be perfectly happy, filled with joy, filled with light and life, and as St. Paul wrote, we will know fully, as fully as we are known by our Heavenly Father. We will have and experience everything that will contribute to our eternal joy – – and if having our pet there (like in my case my “Reba”, my 16-year-old chubby chihuahua who passed away last March), then our pet will be there. As I said, I believe this with all my heart, soul, and spirit.

    1. Brandy Raye Beshears

      I am 48, autistic/ adhd/ ptsd. I lost the love of my life, my dog Kane last Friday and I’m not handling it well. I just want some comfort that I will see him again. He was my absolute best friend in the world. My only friend. It was me and him all the way. My grief is swallowing me. No one knows how to help because of my autism.

      1. I’m sorry to hear about your beloved friend! I just lost my cat if 14 years suddenly and unexpectedly! I’m not handling her loss very well either.
        I keep reminding myself this feeling of despair is temporary! Your feelings are valid!
        The sadness will pass! One day at a time my friend and keeping busy is key! I’m here for a shoulder to lean on!

      2. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve been through it too. God allowed me to visit a part of heaven and my beloved kitty (she died at 19) came to see me when I was there. Pray for the Lord to make a place for your Kane. The Bible doesn’t talk about animals in heaven but I know my Father and He doesn’t discard anything that is pure and beautiful. He delights in His beautiful animals. We can rest easy in our faith in Him. I pray for you to have comfort and peace.

  3. I have no doubts at all that life goes on and Tinker is waiting for me, in my heart for now.
    Tinker was my close companion for 29 years. He was a little corella cockatoo. We were two halves of a whole. The last year of his life he was not well and I and the vet at ISU university tried our best to save him, but it wasn’t to be. I finally had to make the decision that the end had come and then watch as his life drained away before my eyes. It was the single worst day of my life! I was devasted. There was a hole in my life so large that I didn’t know if I could learn how to go on and live without him.

    A year went by and the first anniversary of his death was coming around, and I dreaded that day. I got up that morning, had breakfast and began to do my daily chores. As I was washing dishes, I heard a noise coming from a 25 lb bag of safflower seeds for the birds outside and thought that it was likely a mouse, as this was an old farmhouse we lived in. I went over to check and saw a tail down in the seeds, so I reached down and grabbed it, but was shocked to find that it was a very small bull snake. I had no idea exactly how that snake got inside the house and up over the top of that bag, and I knew that somehow it was a message from Tinker, telling me that he was OK, because he would have known that the surprise would delight me, as I was always bringing bugs, snakes or toads or young possums in to show him, so he had one for me this time.

    Now it’s not that I think the snake got into the bag by magic. There was a very unlikely and roundabout route by which it was conceivable he could have gotten there, however unlikely that may have been, and I think in order for that to happen he had to have divine guidance.

  4. Thank you Father Jim for this article. Heart warming and shows God’s love for us. I dont have children but my pets have helped me throughout my life. In my youth going through and watching abuse within my family, prayer and clinging to my little dog, who always seemed to know when i was sad and scared kept me from taking my life.

  5. Beatrice Galindo

    To Whom It May Concern,
    I teach a Faith Formation Class at St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in Temecula, CA. to children in the 6th through 8th grade. I was given some material to review by an old friend that thought maybe I could use them in my class. I came across “The Story of The Mass” in comic book form, published by Franciscan Communications, many years ago. I like the concept of how the Mass is explained and was wondering if you can help me find out how I can order this “comic-type form book for my students. I have 20 children attending my class weekly on Wednesday evenings.
    Published by Office of Publication, Franciscan Communications, 1983

  6. In the Garden of Eden story in the Bible, God made the animals before he made humans. Humans need animals for companionship. It reminds us of our humanity. And of course, we have man’s best friend, namely the dog.

    I told my Turkish friend Tuesday that she needed to get herself a pet. I recommended she get a goldfish, lol. She could even name it “Abraham” or something. That way, she would have someone/something to talk to.

  7. Is very this is very comforting because I also believe that God made everything with love. St Francis stands in my yard with hundreds of birds feeding around him every year. I loved this article . I read in Genesis that it says “God said let the waters produce animals with a living soul and flying creatures above the Earth under the firmament of heaven and God created the great sea creatures and everything with a living soul… And God saw that it was good…”. I know that only we are created in his image, but obviously anything that is living, was given a soul!

  8. This is very comforting because I also believe that God made everything with love. St Francis stands in my yard with hundreds of birds feeding around him every year. I loved this article . I read in Genesis that it says “God said let the waters produce animals with a living soul and flying creatures above the Earth under the firmament of heaven and God created the great sea creatures and everything with a living soul… And God saw that it was good…”. I know that only we are created in his image, but obviously anything that is living, was given a soul!

  9. This topic hits close to home for me. I just lost my dog Bella to cancer in November 2022. She died on all Saints Day. Thomas Merton referred to such creatures as saints, as they live their lives most fully when they can just be what God made them to be. Bella came into my life just a couple years after I retired. I was sad and depressed for several years after I retired. One of the great joys in my life was when I had the good fortune to bring home Bella. Bella was a puppy when I received her. Over the ten years of her life she taught me some wonderful things about the love of God. First she was joyful! Every time I asked, “Bella, want to go for a walk,” she would dance in circles and jump up and down. Each time we walked it was always the same, it was as if it was her first time to go for a walk. She loved to chase balls, catch frisbees, chase rabbits and pounce on bushes to see what she could flush out and chase. When I was laid up in bed after surgeries she would not leave my side. She wanted to stay by me to make sure I was ok. I saw in her the joy of God, God’s playfulness, God’s faithfulness, God’s goodness. It was as if God was showing me what it looked like to know the freedom God wishes for all of us. Bella was a selfless, faithful, persevering, humble carrier of God’s goodness and love for me. I can’t imagine a new heaven and earth devoid of such a wonderful creature.

    1. Crisostomo Franco Alagao

      Jack, am so struck with your insight…thank you very much for letting me see what I should have seen long time ago… pax et bonvm!

    2. Thank you so much for your comforting words. I lost my beautiful Meagan after 15 wonderful years with her. I hope I will be with her again someday. She loved me more than she loved herself, which is what God wants us all to do. She has to be to there waiting for me.

  10. I have no doubt that all God”s creatures know him, he knows them, and loves and will keep them safe forever. Both the Old Testament (many times) and the New tell us that all creation praises God. The Bible doesn’t include a lot of Information about God’s relationship to other creatures, but I think that’s for a couple of reasons. First:: I can very easily imagine the God who spoke to Job from the whirlwind telling us that it is none of our business! Second: if the Bible described all creatures’ relationships to God in depth, it would be much longer than the Encyclopedia Britannica. We would need wagons to tote our Bibles in!
    The Bible was written for the creature that can read, and it tells largely of our fate. But in telling us that all creation praises God, it tells us that all creation knows God and has a relationship with him. Jesus himself tells us that his Father (and therefore he as well) cares about the fall of a sparrow. He takes for granted that we already realize that the lilies of the field are clothed more beautifully than “Solomon in all his glory.” Those who place us humans in a category above and separate from the rest of creation have not read the Bible.

  11. Our people have always believed that creatures other than humans were bestowed by creator with souls just as we have.

    1. I’m praying for our cat cleo who has started limping and can’t walk. The vet is closed and it’s Saturday night. We pray our cat will be healed by God,and I pray that our fluffy black and white cat has a soul,as a truly believed animals do. I unfortunately just read online before this site that some Christians don’t believe animals will be resurrected as if they die before the advent of Christ coming back,they can’t be resurrected. I hope this was an abstract idea as our cleo brought us many moments of joy during the two and a half years of her with us. When I looked at her I saw the beauty and Wonder of God’s creation, but I’m torn on what I read in a search engine when I was looking up prayers for pets. I pray God will look kindly on our pet cleo and heal her ailment. I also pray for a stronger faith in God’s will and a trust in understanding that God has things in His control. For these and the many other prayers I have in my heart,I ask God,in Jesus’s Name,I pray. Amen.

  12. Deborah Movliatti

    Oh Holy Father please hear my prayer today I thank you for your guidance and in helping me to be still and listen more to your directions and ways to have loving kindness and showing and being more in your teaching of forgiving. Thank You for nurturing and loving and strengthening the little holy spirt inside my chest to guide me and help me. I ask you please place your loving arms around my little dog and hold her and take her into heaven where she will see again and run and bark freely and happily. The love she has given all of her life to me I cannot measure the time she has given to me all of her life I cannot say. My Holy God I have not been worthy of her love she has given to me her love is much bigger and much truer I have felt and seen . I have been truly blessed to have been given her unconditional love all of her life. Thank You My God for giving me Tippy. Please hold her and bless her Please hear my prayer. Amen.

  13. Any hardened “Catholic” apologist who assuredly claims animals are soulless and perish at death has never understood an animal, much less LOVED one.
    Ask any person who has lost a pet (myself included) who got a little visitation immediately after their passing will tell you that their souls continue. Just because we do not understand animal souls and their seemingly lower “intelligence” does not mean that they are annihilated at death.
    The Catholic claim that animals cannot receive sanctifying grace and partake in the beatific vision proves nothing. Grace and the beatific vision were promised to humans only. Why? Because humans are fallen sinners in need of both; animals are not. They are blameless because they do not sin. But, they still share the same fate as humans (death and victimhood), but that’s OUR fault. Fortunately for them, they will not be judged when they pass.
    WE are the ones who should be scared.

  14. My sweet baby Swan passed away today. She was about 6 years old – a cat suffering from leukemia. We hand-fed her and she slept with one of us every night.
    I like to think I know Jesus well enough to know that he loves our pets even more than we do – after all, He created them and knows them even better than we do. Understands them more than we do. He can speak and understand “cat.”

    Jesus would not allow us to love these beautiful creatures, only to annihilate them for no reason other than to break our hears – and His. When Jesus said He’s going to prepare a place for us, He’s speaking to humans. But he know that humans — the daughters and sons he made on purpose in His image — have chosen to allow animals into their lives and some people have grown to love their pets more than themselves. Jesus understands that well. And since He also loves our pets (even more than we do) and He knows how to give good gifts to His children, I have no doubt that He will make a place for all our animals in Heaven; along with a place for the animals we never met, but He did.

    After Jesus and my fellow humans I love animals the most in this world. I believe He fully understands this and shares this with me. I trust we are all safe in the hands of Jesus, who will destroy death as the last enemy and give all his creation the eternal life He meant for it to enjoy.

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