No matter what your spiritual beliefs are, you’ve probably pondered the question all the same: where do we go when we die?
And if you’re a cat owner, you’ve likely wondered the same thing about your beloved feline.
When that dreaded day comes, and your cat passes away, does he simply disappear forever? Does his matter return to the earth, his atoms redistributing themselves into the plants around his final resting spot?
Might his spirit be reincarnated into another being, taking on a new physical form and setting off into a new life?
Is there an afterlife where he can spend the rest of eternity in peace and happiness, reuniting with all those he loved during his time on Earth?
Or does his spirit remain here around you, invisible and intangible but always watching over you, leaving tiny signs of its presence everywhere and hoping you notice?
We’ll probably never truly know where cats go when they die, but these theories can bring much-needed comfort to grieving pet parents — and spark some interesting philosophical discussions. Let’s look at them in more detail.
Do Cats Go to Heaven When They Die?
In many religions, death is not the end of your existence: an afterlife awaits you, and once you’re there, you’ll be reunited with all the people in your life who have passed away.
But among the religions that have a concept of heaven, none provide a clear answer as to whether cats are allowed into the afterlife. And because scriptures leave a lot of room for interpretation, theologians are split on whether animals’ souls join humans’ in heaven.
Do Cats Go to Heaven in Christianity?
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The Bible itself seems to waver on whether animals go to heaven or not. It all depends on the verses you read — and the way you assign meaning to them.
Take Genesis 1:26-27, which suggests that animals are not made in God’s image. Only humans were, and since being made in God’s image is a prerequisite for entering heaven, there are no animals there.
But in the Book of Isaiah, you’ll find references to animals in heaven. Indeed, heaven is a place where predator and prey animals live harmoniously alongside each other: the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid.
In general, the idea that animals go to heaven is gaining traction across many Christian churches.
Though Catholicism has historically been opposed to the concept, Pope Francis made headlines in 2014 when he declared that “paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.”
And Mormonism is explicit about its position: animals have souls just like we do, thus, they do move on to the afterlife when they die. Additionally, they will be resurrected alongside us after the Second Coming of Christ, and all species will coexist peacefully.
Do Cats Go to Heaven in Judaism?
The afterlife is a complex topic in Judaism, with scholars split on whether it exists at all.
In mainstream Judaism, animals do have spiritual energy, but it is distinct from a human soul and does not go to heaven. Rather, it is simply released back into the world upon death.
But certain schools of Judaism differ, notably Kabbalah. The Azrial states that all created entities — humans, plants, rocks, objects, and animals — possess independent souls, and these souls both sustain the existence and allow entry into heaven.
Do Cats Go to Heaven in Islam?
Like Christianity and Judaism, Islam doesn’t have a universally-accepted answer regarding whether there is an afterlife for cats.
Some Islamic scholars say no: animals are not accountable for their actions, but being judged for one’s actions is a prerequisite for entering Paradise or Hell. On Resurrection Day, all animals will be resurrected, receive justice for the way they were treated in life, then simply be turned into dust.
But that doesn’t mean your cat can never go to heaven. Because you can have anything you want in heaven, once you arrive, you can ask Allah to reunite you with your pets, and your request will be granted.
Are Cats Reincarnated When They Die?
Do Cats Get Reincarnated in Buddhism?
In Buddhism, all animals — including humans — contain an essence that transcends their physical form. When the body dies, its energies spend a short period of time in a heaven-like place, where they can attempt to communicate with those they left behind before being reborn.
Rebirth is based on karma, the ever-evolving sum of one’s actions throughout life. Karma can be thought of as moral energy that persists through death into the next life.
The more good you do, the higher your karma, and the better your chances of being reborn as a being that is closer to Nirvana — and thus, closer to Buddha.
Humans are considered the ultimate incarnation — the only ones capable of true enlightenment. Once a being has attained enough karma, it will be reborn as a human; until then, it will be reborn as an animal, though not necessarily the same kind of animal.
So in Buddhism, your cat may be reborn as another cat after the waiting period, or he might be reborn as another kind of animal altogether. And if, in the span of his energies’ existence, he has done enough good, he may be reborn as a human.
Do Cats Get Reincarnated in Hinduism?
Like Buddhism, Hinduism centers around a cycle of life, death, and rebirth based on the deeds you perform during your earthly life.
And as in Buddhism, animals are considered to be lower forms than humans. In Hinduism, caring for pets is seen as a way to help their souls attain enough karma to be reborn as humans.
This is why Hinduism places such emphasis on treating animals with kindness: they are simply souls trying to ascend to higher forms, and as higher forms ourselves, it is our responsibility to assist them on their journey.
Per Hinduism, when your cat dies, he will indeed be reborn, either as another animal or as a human. But the love and care you gave him during your time with him contributed to his positive karma, so he truly is moving on to a better life.
Do Cats Leave Spirits Behind When They Die?
Even if you’re not religious, you may believe in the concept of the spirit: a metaphysical part of the self that exists separately from the body.
Some believe that spirits move on to another realm after death, while others believe that they can remain here on Earth, invisible among us but still able to communicate in subtle ways.
Let’s take a closer look at these two possibilities.
Crossing the Rainbow Bridge
The Rainbow Bridge is a short prose poem that you may be familiar with if you’ve ever lost a pet.
It describes a nondenominational afterlife filled with animals who were loved by humans during their lives. Rather than fully move on, their spirits frolic by the Rainbow Bridge, where they enjoy perfect health, happiness, and peace.
When you pass away, you make a stop at the Rainbow Bridge before continuing on into heaven. You’re reunited with your pets and can cross the bridge together, never to be separated again.
It’s not known who wrote the original Rainbow Bridge poem, but over the years, it has transcended divisions of faith and become a comfort for bereaved pet owners around the world.
Even those who don’t have any spiritual beliefs find comfort in the idea that their beloved cats are happy and in good health, just waiting at the Rainbow Bridge until the day they can meet again.
Can Cats’ Spirits Communicate with Us After Death?
If you’ve ever lost a pet, you may have noticed little things around your home that suggest a benevolent supernatural presence.
You may hear what sounds like a hungry meow coming from the kitchen, though the room is empty when you go to check.
When you walk down the hall, you might feel an inexplicable urge to enter your cat’s favorite room — and when you do, you see that a book has somehow been knocked onto the floor.
Or you might feel your mattress sink as your cat jumps up onto it, only to open your eyes and see that there’s nothing there.
Many people write these occurrences off as the mind simply filling in the blanks like it’s used to. It takes time for the brain to rewire its expectations after losing a pet, so these tiny hallucinations are to be expected.
But for some people, these sensations persist for months, years, or even decades after losing their cat. And they may even happen to people who have previously held no belief in the supernatural.
When this happens, it can truly seem like your cat’s spirit is still living alongside you and trying to communicate with you from its invisible dimension. His meows may lose some oomph moving from plane to plane, but they’re there if you listen closely.
It’s easy to fall into an obsession with looking for signs of your cat’s spirit, and latching on too hard can prevent you from moving through the grief process. But seeing those messages from him can also provide comfort that helps you stay strong — and whether his spirit is there or not, that little boost can make a huge difference.
Where Pets Go When They Die (Video)
"In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this."
-- Terry Pratchett