Question from a reader: I have been grieving the loss of my cat for some time now, and the pain does not go away. I am still very sad and wondering what kind of help you can give me. I keep thinking—did my Mittens go to heaven or not? I had a very tight bond with this cat. I miss her companionship every day and I miss her so much.
My response: I’m so sorry to learn of the death of your beloved cat Mittens, and I offer you my deepest sympathy. Having lost my own beloved Tibetan terrier Beringer just last month, I certainly can relate to what you are feeling.
You’ve asked if your dear little Mittens went to heaven. I’m not a biblical scholar and I cannot point you to any passages in the Bible that address the issue of whether animals go to heaven, but I can tell you that you are not alone in asking that question. Many bereaved animal lovers struggle with whether they’ll be reunited with their beloved pets in the afterlife.
I can also tell you that, whenever we are confronted with a significant loss, it is absolutely normal for us to question the spiritual beliefs that we’ve held all our lives—the really big ones, like “Is this all there is?” and “What is the meaning of life?” and “Where do we go when we die?” There is no denying that death is a very spiritual event. When one of our cherished pets dies, it is evident to us that the pet’s spirit is no longer in his body. So where did that spirit go? What happened to it? Is your cat’s animal spirit okay? Can you still communicate with her spirit in any way?
As a grief counselor who also specializes in pet loss, I have worked with many bereaved animal lovers over the years, all of whom have their own spiritual beliefs. Some take great comfort and peace in the belief that their animals are okay and being cared for in a different realm (see, for example, the Animals’ Eden and Rainbow Bridge stories you’ll find on my website’s Comfort for Grieving Animal Lovers page). Others believe their animals may come back and be reincarnated in a different form. Still others experience a crisis of faith, questioning everything they ever believed before.
This is what I consider to be one of the great Lessons of Loss, that such a profound life crisis forces upon us an opportunity to re-examine our basic values and beliefs and pushes us to grow. I encourage you to think of your Mittens’ death as an opportunity to explore your own values and beliefs, in your own way, in your own time. Don’t let anyone (relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers, clergy) tell you what you should believe or even what brings you comfort. We can look to others and their beliefs as models to learn from, but in the end we each must discover and clarify our own beliefs. We can find comfort in them and let them serve us.
I can also tell you that there are a number of books out there about this subject, which in itself tells you that you are not alone in your search for an answer to your question. Some are better than others, of course. I happen to prefer children’s books, because their message is simpler and less preachy, they are so beautifully illustrated and they bring me more personal comfort. But there are books directed at adults as well. Here are just a few of both types:
Blessing the Bridge: What Animals Teach Us about Death, Dying and Beyond ©2001, by Rita M. Reynolds
Animals and the Afterlife: True Stories of Our Best Friends’ Journey Beyond Death ©2006, by Kim Sheridan
I Will See You in Heaven ©2010, by Friar Jack Wintz
I Will See You in Heaven (Cat Lover’s Edition) ©2011, by Friar Jack Wintz
Bill at Rainbow Bridge ©2010, by Dan Carrison
Will I See Him Again? (A Look at Pets in Heaven) © 2005, by Tom Waldron
Who Says Animals Go to Heaven? © 2008, by Niki Behrikis Shanahan
Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates ©2008, by Gary Kurz
Goodbye Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet © 2006, by Gary Kowalski
Will I See Fido in Heaven? © 2005, by Mary Buddemeyer-Porter
Paw Prints in the Stars: A Farewell and Journal for a Beloved Pet ©2008, by Warren Hanson
All God’s Creatures Go To Heaven © 1996, original story by Amy Nolfo-Wheeler with illustrations by N. A. Noel
For Every Cat An Angel © 2001, by Christine Davis
For Every Dog An Angel © 2004, by Christine Davis
If you click on the titles above, you’ll be taken to Amazon’s description and reviews of each. I’m sure you could find one or more of these at your local library, or you could ask your librarian to order some of them. Be sure also to visit some of the wonderful sites I’ve listed on my Memorializing a Pet page.
I hope this information proves useful to you, my dear, and I hope it helps to know that I’m thinking of you and your precious companion at this sad time.
© 2011 by Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC
Reach Marty through her Web sites, http://www.griefhealing.com and http://www.griefhealingdiscussiongroups.com, or her Blog, http://www.griefhealingblog.com
Thank you, Lenna ~ I so appreciate your feedback ♥
You and your ministry are inspired by God. Yesterday I had the grim task of putting my daughter’s 17 yr old cat Ike to sleep, having a severe heart issue. My daughter was emotionally abused by her husband and she fell in with a young man who made money by stealing. She drove her car to houses while he went inside and stole. They were caught and she was sentenced to 15 yrs in prison.
I took her cat Ike and have fostered him for 2 yrs.She was allowed 1 week to settle her affairs before going in She came in the door and when Ike saw her his face exploded in joy.
I am 70 yrs old and still working every evening Ike was waiting for me at the door. He jumped onto chair and onto me and draped himself around my neck .
My daughter sobbed when I told her he was gone. Life is full of challenges and love of God and others is the only thing that matters. I pray that Ike ‘s spirit is happy wherever he has transitioned to.
I’m so sorry for your loss, Mary Alice ~ I hope it brings you comfort to know that you gave your daughter’s kitty such a warm and loving home here on Earth. Heaven is filled with love, so Ike should feel right at home there now. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your daughter, and when you remember Ike, may love be what you remember most.
I lost my precious cat Olivia of 17 years on Saturday July 14, 2018, at approximately 11:40am. She was may best friend, my keeper of secrets, my tear catcher, we talked daily of things only us silly ladies would understand, and when it come time for baths, she sat beside my tub, and I would hand her some bubbles out and she bathed as I did. Then off to bed where for 17 years she slept on my chest, so she could push her head up to my mouth for good night kisses. The only nights we had to skip sleeping this way was 2 years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, than she slept beside my head. I’ve cried daily since she left me, bedtime is the worst. I actually have heart ache for her. I’ve had friends tell me get another kitten, others say try a dog, I tell them I just don’t have the love to give, I gave all I had to my sweet Olivia. I enjoyed reading your article, and hope to go purchase a few of your books tomorrow. And I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your beloved furbaby.
I’m so sorry to learn of the loss of your precious cat Olivia as well, my dear, and I know how much this hurts. Your loss is so recent and the pain so fresh. Please give yourself time to mourn, and think about some ways you might memorialize her. After my darling Beringer died, I made a list of all the funny and wonderful things I loved about him, the nicknames I had for him ~ writing down anything and everything I could think of that I never wanted to forget. I also gathered all the pictures I had of him, and made a photo book for myself and for my grandchildren, as a way to preserve our memories of all the fun times we had together. I cannot describe the comfort it gives me today, nearly 7 years later, to have those lists and photos and memory books that I can pull out whenever I feel the need. I still miss him terribly, and it still hurts that he’s not physically here with me, but now it is the love we shared that I remember most ~ and I wish the same for you and your Olivia. ♥
I have spoken with a medium before. Our pets do go to heaven! I even heard my dog bark during a session and have it recorded on a cassette tape. Our former family members or whoever was connected ro us while they were in the physical world watch out for them.
I believe cats do go back to their creator after passing. In the Book of Genesis, all creatures that walked the earth were created spiritually first before coming here. I believe the word of God, they do go back.
As a clairvoyant person who pushed it away in life and who recently accepted it, I’ve seen animals on the other side. I’ve lost many pets in my long life I had to put down two of my favorite cats who were both considered my children. The grief was overwhelming. I soon learned that once I let go of the sadness, they both contacted and interacted with me in my dreams where I could touch them and smell them and rejoice that they were in a much younger and happier state than what I saw before they crossed over. They were letting me know they were fine as these dreams were extremely vivid and even though the background where they were was in black and white, they were in full color and dimension which was telling my in my soul it was them. Once I saw a friend’s cat who passed and was blind and this cat appeared in spirit form in the daylight scampering up the side of her house and onto a roof and looked down at me. I was able to share that with her when I went to cleanse her space of the remnants of physical illness he left behind before he crossed. She was joyful that her beloved pet who only knew darkness was now happy seeing light and images outside. I also saw a dog spirit going into a nursing home door and quietly walked down the hall to see his owner who was a resident at that time. Their love was so complete that this animal will come to walk them into the light when the time comes. They will all be there when we cross over.