Rebecca loves sharing what she knows about alternative medicine, health, frugal living, fun, animals, and how to live a better life!
Do animals have souls?
What is a soul?
The definition of what a soul is varies greatly by your personal religious and spiritual beliefs. Which in turn will affect whether or not you believe an animal has a soul.
However, the broad definition of what a soul is, is this; a spiritual or immaterial part of a human, animal or life-form, regarded as immortal.
I personally identify with simply "being spiritual". I personally feel any living thing has a "spirit" or "spiritual breath" sometimes called an "essence" or "energy", this would include plants, animals, humans, minerals, and even objects. I believe animals DO have souls. A better way to describe this is that animals have consciousness, although they are not as consciously evolved as humans. Human souls evolve on greater levels than an animal. Animals are commonly believed to be more sensitive to spirits than humans and have often been the subjects of the most intense paranormal activities. If animals or our domestic friends were void of consciousness they would not perceive many things humans do not.
The reason I decided to discuss this topic, is because throughout my life, I've lost 3 cats, all of which I've loved very dearly. Each cat had a unique set of qualities, and personality. I cared for them with every resource I had until they were no more. All lived relatively long healthy lives, and when they passed, I was heart broken. It's a shame to me that they simply do not have the lifespan of a human. My cats have always been part of my family, they were my babies, and the thought of them not continuing past this life in one form or another simply broke my heart, and is unimaginable.
Losing an animal can give someone extreme grief. Animals not only provide unconditional love, but they become friends, companions, and some even work very hard to assist handicapped people. They have been known to bond with each other, with us, and even other unlikely species. A very popular show by National Geographic that illustrates this is Unlikely Animal Friends. They protect and love us without question.
When you lose or have lost a beloved pet, either by natural death, illness or tragic event, you may find yourself questioning whether or not you'll see that animal again.
A few common religious beliefs about animals having souls
Bahá'í The Bahá'í faith is one of the youngest of the world's major religions. It was founded by Bahá'u'lláh in Iran in 1863. The essential identity of each person is a rational and immortal soul. Our existence on earth depends on our physical bodies, and that human nature is fundamentally spiritual. After our soul separates from the physical body, it then enters into a spiritual realm of existence in which it draws close to God. Progress depends on preparation that has been made on the earthly plane in response to the teachings of God’s Messengers. Essentially Bahá'í practitioners do not believe animals have souls the way that humans do.
Buddhism Buddhists do not believe all life forms survive as individuals, but rejoin a universal "whole", essentially "new" and eventually "complete". Therefore Buddhists do not believe we connect with souls the way we would recognize them on earth, but as a universal source energy. Being that we are all made of that "source", we would then all be joined and complete. Some Buddhists believe that animals are souls that were created out of karmic past life misdeeds, this is obviously a big setback. Buddhists highly value all forms of life and believe all can reach and obtain perfect enlightenment. And that souls can reside in human and non-human vessels. They oppose cruelty and suffering for all life. Unlike Sikhism, all Buddhists are not vegetarians.
Hinduism This religion has a god whose form is that of animal and human: Ganesha. Hindus believe animals do live on after death. But we go through reincarnation first. Every single being and life form has a soul, in a sense we "level up", Hinduism is very fond of transcendentalism.
Catholic Based on what I've been able to find on Catholicism, their beliefs are conflicting. Going as far as to believe that animals, or life other than human being, has a "temporary soul", others say that since God created everything, including man, that man is identical with living creatures. The concept of a "temporary soul" is upheld by Catholic.com. I was unable to identify with this view.
Christianity Christianity has many denominations, so discussing all of them will not be done. The primary Christian view is that animals do not have souls the way humans do. Genesis 2:7, God breathes into the nostrils of man and gives him life, but all land animals have this same breath as well. Breath refers to "spirit", but spirit/life energy is not defined as a soul. Animals give God his due worship, and therefore they are loved and cared for. In the bible God describes his creation of animals to their "own" kind. And clearly outlines and delineates that man was created in Gods own image, being one of an eternal being containing the Holy Spirit. Evangelicals follow suit with the same belief. They believe that animals have no place in the afterlife, and that animals do not possess an eternal spirit. Orthodox views; animals have souls, but are unsure of their immortality or placement in the after life. Mormons believe each life has a specific place and purpose in the afterlife.
Islam They believe animals have souls, but what happens to them when it's time to be judged is another story. Some claim animals will return to the earth, and will cease to exist, others say they will transform and their spirits will then live on eternally.
Judaism They believe that the soul evolving capabilities of an animal is lower than that of a human. Human souls are considered divine, filled with the holy spirit itself. Divine souls are reunited with God upon death. This is not to say the animal soul does not survive death, but that it is not "with you" in heaven.
Sikhism Values respect for all forms of life, and all life forms. They believe humans and animals undergo transformations into different states and stages until a pure and perfected state is reached and we become "one with God". Sikhism beliefs are very similar to Hindu and Buddhists.
Treat all life with respect and purpose
Whether or not you believe an animal has a soul, you should always treat living things with respect, kindness, dignity, compassion, and acknowledge that they have a purpose and reason for existence. Even though they do not walk, communicate, or accomplish other great feats as humans have, they do deserve to be cared for and treated well while we share the planet with them.
If you have recently lost an animal you loved, I hope this information will give you comfort and peace as you move through your grieving process. Hopefully reassuring you that the animal you loved so much is no longer in pain or suffering, and that you will once see them again. Perhaps it will also cause you to be mindful and respect others views on the topic of animal souls, or cause you to reevaluate some, if not all of your religious perspectives.
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© 2014 Rebecca
GalaxyRat on June 01, 2017:
I believe animaks have souls. Would heaven be the same without them?
Annie Messeri from Spain on March 28, 2014:
I believe our animals will meet us when we pass over.
VioletteRose from Atlanta on February 03, 2014:
Nice hub, I believe animals too have a soul!
Rebecca (author) from USA on January 29, 2014:
I'm sorry Lynda, can you expand on that comment?
Lynda Kolakowski on January 29, 2014:
What than happens to an animal soul if its kill
Rebecca (author) from USA on January 06, 2014:
Teresa, I also agree! Thank you for the comment. :)
Teresa Coppens from Ontario, Canada on January 06, 2014:
A very thought provoking hub. I believe strongly that animals have a soul. God created all life and thus all creatures contain a part of God's essence - their soul.
d.william from Somewhere in the south on January 04, 2014:
Great hub. If you are familiar with John Edwards, the psychic, he says that when he converses with the dead they often mention a beloved animal of the family that is also deceased and with them in the spirit world.
I tend to believe that as well. I would rather believe that if i live on as a separate entity in the spirit world i want all my little pets there with me.
I had 7 cats and 4 dogs (strays) that lived with me for their little lifetimes. There were many others before them, so i will have quite a brood around me when i move one. The loss of each of them was extremely hard to deal with.
I have 2 dogs and 1 cat left and they are all up there in age. It will be a toss up which of them (or me) lives the longest. I certainly pray that they all go before me. I can't bear to think of them left behind with no one to take care of them.
Rebecca (author) from USA on January 04, 2014:
:( I'm sorry to hear this FlourishAnyway, that's a really hard thing to go through. I lost two cats in September of 2012, 1 week apart. One I had to put down, the other died in my arms on our bathroom floor, I still miss them. Your kitty will be okay. Be kind to yourself.
FlourishAnyway from USA on January 04, 2014:
This was meaningful to me, as we are on the way to the vet's office this morning to have our 18 1/2 year old tortie cat put down.
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on January 03, 2014:
Very interesting and thought provoking hub!
It is interesting to read about different religions, what they feel about this issue. But one thing is sure that we or every living creature is the creation of Nature, which we may also call God!
Thanks and voted up as interesting!
Sharon Vile from Odessa, MO on January 03, 2014:
You sure got me thinking.
Dianna Mendez on January 02, 2014:
Quite interesting to read the possibility of animals having a soul, which I believe to be true.
Rebecca (author) from USA on January 02, 2014:
:) They sure have energy!
Sharon Vile from Odessa, MO on January 02, 2014:
I figure that even inanimate things have a soul.
Rebecca (author) from USA on January 02, 2014:
Thanks both of you!
Eiddwen from Wales on January 02, 2014:
So very interesting and voting up for sure. Enjoy your day.
Mackenzie Sage Wright on January 02, 2014:
Really interesting hearing all the different ideas from different beliefs. Personally I don't know if there is anything like a soul. If there is, it only seems likely to me that it's just part of nature and all living things must have one. I have a few beloved pets I won't mind reuniting with if there is life after death. Great hub.