US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Homeward bound: Pets and the after life

| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Last week I lost one of my best friends: my cat.

It's taken me a while to write this post, but I know that so many people can relate. In fact, 2009 saw two books about pets and death from a Catholic perspective come out: Will I See My Dog in Heaven? By Franciscan Jack Wintz and Animals in Heaven: Catholics Want to Know! by Susi Pittman.

I know that non-animal folks might not understand the closeness of owners and their pets and this concern for pets' souls, but my experience confirms that there's a unique bond between humans and animals.

Middy (short for Midnight-as you can see from the picture, she was all black and I wasn't a terribly creative child) had been an orphan found in a garage before my family adopted her and her brother from our piano teacher in 1990. They were so small that we had to bottle feed them. While her brother died of cancer at age four, Middy lasted 19 years.

It seemed to be true that she had 9 lives, surviving infection after infection, diabetes, digestion issues, and cancer for about six months longer than we expected. And certainly, as many have told me in the past week, she was well loved and taken care of.

Whenever people have said that, though, my response is that Middy loved me well too. Besides leaving me a number of presents in the forms of dead rodents and birds, she was always there to provide me comfort, from childhood, through the tumultuous teenage years, and even after I left home as an adult (she stayed with my parents).

The love that we receive from pets is what makes us call animals best friends and wonder about their souls. I don't know what happens after life, but I can hope that she is with God.

To lift your spirits, check out the fake church sign debate about whether "all dogs go to heaven."

(Photo: Middy and me the night before we had to put her to sleep.)