Christianity and Cats

There is not a lot to say about Christianity and cats unlike the Islamic faith. The Islamic faith is very specific and clear in its directives on how to treat cats. It even provides examples. As for Christianity: nothing, and for most of the duration of the Christian faith all animals are treated as second class citizens for humans to use. Christianity is human-centric.  Christianity inspires speciesism. There is no mention of cats in the bible except for the lion as a beast.

Christianity and cats

Christianity and cats. Photo by Daveness_98

The traditional Christian view is that animals are to be preyed upon by humans and other animals. Animals were downgraded. Animals were considered in relation to humans and not as distinct sentient beings with souls, feelings, emotions and intelligence. Christianity is still burdened with this human-centric viewpoint. Although the religion has moved on considerably in respect of animal rights, Christians across large areas of the planet remain shackled to the crude past, which often leads to various forms of animal abuse judged by modern, enlightened thinking in a modern world. Some time ago I argued that Christians were more likely to accept declawing of cats.

Christians have historically struggled to explain away why animals suffer in a world created by God. Some of the arguments used are that (a) animals don’t feel pain or feel less pain than humans or (b) feel pain but don’t suffer or (c) deserve to feel pain. It is all rather human-centric as usual.

Modern Roman Catholicism remains rooted in the tradition of the human having dominion over animals. The human is a steward of animals to be used for his benefit. Although the church preaches respect for animals.

Even today Christian theologians don’t believe that animals have rights. However, they do afford animals respect and consideration. Modern Christians believe in looking after nature rather then using it to human advantage.

Some well known Christians had a more enlightened attitude towards animals. St. Francis, born in 1182, was sensible enough and ahead of his time in declaring that animals “had the same source as himself”. That must have been difficult for a lot of people to digest at that time. He is almost saying that humans are animals, which of course is the case but even today most people can’t accept that, especially Christians.

The prophet Isaiah referred to the Kingdom of Heaven as a place where humans and animals live together in peace.

Jesus preached that people should be kind to the weak and vulnerable. Often animals fall into this category and should, therefore, be well treated by people.

Andrew Linzey writes that God loves all creation. To be honest this does not sound like some sort of revelation. For me is more a matter of common sense. However, from a Christian perspective it gets away from the human-centric history of the religion.

Today, the Anglican church’s view is that people are “co-partners with the rest of creation”. That seems to say that we are all equal.

Conclusion? Christianity got off on the wrong foot with respect to its attitude towards animals and therefore cats. That legacy is still felt today.

Important note: this is the second in a series of religion and cats. I respect everyone’s views on religion. It is a sensitive subject. Everyone has an obvious right to be critical of what I have written and I accept that totally.

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Christianity and Cats — 27 Comments

  1. This is one thing I don’t understand about Religion, I don’t think anyone who doesn’t love animals should call themselves a Christian.
    How can we all ‘love one another’ yet exclude animals, who after all are living beings, just not in the same form as we humans are?
    To love God and Jesus Christ is to love the world and everything in it and to practise being like the ‘Good Samaritan’
    Yet some so called Christians don’t put themselves out to help others, or animals, some are selfish, surely we are supposed to share what we have?
    I had a Priest friend (she’s moved away now and we’ve lost touch) who said she was vegetarian, yet she ate bacon and lamb and she didn’t care about pet animals either.
    My jury is out as to whether I believe in God and Heaven or not, I want to but doubts creep in because of the way humans are abusing animals and the environment and ruining this world.

    • I agree, as usual with you. I am an atheist, which won’t surprise you, or at least I believe there may be God but not the sort of human God envisaged by Christians. Christianity is 2000 years old and in those days animals were treated less well than today. There were no animal protection laws etc. That early attitude towards animals and the idea that humans were superior is evident in the bible. The Christian God is a human God not a God for all creatures because it is a human creation. That is my argument.

      • I don’t think of God as a person, I think of ‘him’ as Nature, the sky, sunshine, trees, flowers, etc, land and sea that should belong to every living creature, not just our species.
        I rarely go to Church now because it’s become see and be seen, even at funerals people are noisy nowadays, waving to friends, gossiping over the organ music before the service.
        I’d rather go into the country or to the sea where there is peace and quiet to gather my thoughts and then face the world again ready to carry on battling on behalf of those who need help, especially cats of course, as it seems too few of us really do care about their welfare and they do need us to speak out on their behalf.

        • Yes, gossiping over the organ music before the service! I hate that, because I’m the one playing the organ. Some of my relatives are the worst offenders too.

          • Sweetheart, you are just fine. Those people know nothing about you and your heart. (Ruth, my daughter has also played classical piano. Get over that egocentric person; he didn’t know you. 🙂

            • Ruthie, my daughter played since age five, until her adult years. She refused to take lessons from John Carlini, one of my best friends from UNL, here in Lincoln, NE. He was in to Jazz improv. She would have nothing to do with it. Classical, nothing else. Love you, girl!

              • Yes, I love Classical music too. Well, Baroque is my favorite– how can you be a church organist and not love J.S. Bach? But I also like Paul Manz, a modern composer– he may even still be alive, but I am not sure. His organ music is wonderful.

                I think we have so much recorded music today that people don’t know how to behave when there is live music. They don’t even realize that talking and laughing through somebody’s organ prelude can cause her to screw up.

                When I was taking lessons my organ professor would do all kinds of crazy things while I was playing to increase my concentration– like suddenly drop a hymnal or come and stick his face right by mine until I about cracked up laughing. But he said a recital is easier to play than a church service, because during a recital people are polite and listen, but during church they will be very noisy and not even think about what you have to do. He recently had a photographer at a wedding he was playing for come and sit on the organ bench next to him clicking photos while he was playing. That poor man. I just thought, “Better him than me.”

        • Ruth (Kattaddorra), why do you refer to a “Godfigure” as he? Please get beyond this? I trust you as an immensely caring human being.

          God? Male Why don’t you choose a different pronoun, in our verse?

          No male entity can even try to come close to our Spirits who are way far beyond us, at least, in this Universe. 😉

          • I suppose because I was brought up being taught that God is a He not a She, but it’s just a figure of speech and I don’t like to use ‘it’ for anyone be it God, person or animal.
            Nature is Mother Nature, old teachings linger for a lifetime.

            • I don’t like personal pronouns either, when it comes to our Higher Spirit. “Species?” that is our human taxonomy, or so. If we are to understand ourselves, as the ants do in “our world,” then who are we, with our he/she/it [pronouns] to understand our Higher Power? our higher plain, within our context/universe? “He” does not enter into it, in my mind. Felines, are far beyond us, as far as my respect is concerned. Sounds a little crazy, no? They live for a mouse; their ultimate perfect food. We, on the other hand, are extremely selfish. Cats are not. They never did any wrong to anybody. [Sorry, Ruth, I do get carried away with my feelings towards this maligned species. sigh…] 🙂

  2. Although I grew up with a strong Christian family, I am not Christian. I reject the teachings of the Bible because of the conflicts with my own beliefs, particularly about animals. There are references in the Book related to lions, lambs and asses. I can’t find any discussions about compassion for animals. Sacrificing lambs isn’t my idea of caring.

    • Yes, why doesn’t the Bible have a decent sized section an animal rights? Animals have an equal right to live and to have a decent life. But they are ignored by the Bible and you hardly ever hear priests and bishops preaching about animal rights and welfare. Hopeless state of affairs.

    • Good point Dee – why would god want to test somebody by telling them to sacrifice a lamb. I had to go to church every sunday until I was 18 and I could probably repeat all the stuff we had to say in church every week because it’s etched in my subconsious but how are we supposed to have any trust or respect in something which is so brutal throughout history and so awful and terrible in the way it promotes fear and the way it backs war. How can we trust an organisation that is so rich and powerful throughout history yet never seemed to do anyone any good – from my understanding of all the words I had to recite we are guilty until proven innocent. I disagree entirely. I also probably didn’t understand it right because it’s not clear – thats another thing about it. I also think that it is wrong to try and convert people and historically in far off countries natives were converted or killed. To this day the world is still in turmoil because of it, in part, along with other religions.

      Tell me one thing – if every living thing is unique, albeit the same in many ways, it is still unique – we are all very similar yet we are a little or even alot different – then surely it’s impossible for us all to think and believe the same way. That is why religion as a concept is wrong from the start. It cant work. It can only impose itself on people for lack of anything else. Back when people were scared to be different and non believers were considered bad or evil, it was easy to force everyone to be Christian. It’s not like anybody had a choice. Same like the Nazi’s – it’s not as if all those german soldiers agreed with what they were doing – they just had to. Anything that happens on a mass scale in the mind is in of itself very dangerous to the flow of organic existence. Religion has disabled people for hundreds of years and will continue to do so – what I mean is that people are not born free thinking necessarily because they are born into some religion or other so life becomes about coping with it. Finding a way for it to be a good thing. There are many people who see their life experiences in terms of a god and religion. Many many people – and yet all these people are different so they must all at some point have an emotional barrier or stopping point where they just don’t ‘feel’ it. To be fair Christians are more objective these days and some even admit they don’t think Eve was naughty and bit into an apple and so on (lets not even begin with the gender bias and roles in religion) but they see it more as a metaphor – this is a more reasonable progression.

      I just think if Mit Romney is a mormon it should be illegal for him to be president or in government. Extremism is always relgious and you can’t have religion in politics or you end up going back in time. You can’t use expressions of nationalism mixed with religion – like “god’s country” – because this is the most dangerous and destructive forces there is. Romney even said he’d invoke the global gag rule. The whole thing of abortion in the US and the fact that religion can have political power and be so illogical and dangerous is incredibly frightening. Imagine being a young woman who is raped and then can’t get a morning after pill in Walmart because they are against it and you live in the middle of nowhere and your only pharmacy is walmart. This is medievil. This is no different to extremist islam where a woman hasn’t control or choice over her own body.

      My understanding from 10 years of churchgoing is that god is supposed to have provided the earth for humans to use. The animals included. Man is supposed to be other than beast. This is exactly how our culture is built. Our culture is christian through and through. That is probably exactly why animals continue to be used and abused – the system can’t be broken. Once upon a time we needed it to survive. Religion is probably the one single most dangerous and destructive thing in this entire ecosystem – I would even guess there is nothing quite like it anywhere in the universe. Can you imagine that you can do a bad thing and then go to church and say sorry and be forgiven just like that – maybe with a few hail mary’s or something. This whole structure is designed to sustain greed and alcohol consumption in my opinion. Do what you want and then say sorry and you will be good again.

      How are we supposed to to trust the people who teach us this stuff. I think the only hell that exists is right here on earth for many living things. To try and tell us that there is a worse hell that we must avoid is just the pinnacle idiocy – there is nothing worse than a gas chamber, that is hell, or a war zone, those are hell, and ironically they are created by the religions that tell us there is even more of it if you don’t behave well in this one. This is clearly nothing more than mind control for the once weak minded. We are getting stronger now and we don’t need this pollution in our minds anymore. And there are those to whom it is not pollution but a great thing – that’s fine – that’s good, as long as they don’t use that way of thinking to hurt living things and as long as they accept that it is only like that for them and that god is simply a word that is used for something entirely mental.. as long as there is peace, then fine, think what you want.

      If the bible talked about animal rights and treated women equally and made you innocent until proven guilty then I’d be alot more interested 🙂

      • Tell me one thing – if every living thing is unique, albeit the same in many ways, it is still unique – we are all very similar yet we are a little or even a lot different – then surely it’s impossible for us all to think and believe the same way….

        That is a really nice point and a point which, to me, indicates a failure in religion. It seems to be an invention by someone for some purpose. I don’t think the purpose was pure and for the betterment of humanity.

        I went to church three times every Sunday for for the entire time I was at school! Three times in one day. It was just a routine. Never analysed it. Now I am an atheist. Maybe there is a connection.

  3. To the ones who have lost faith in the Bible, I beg you let me try to clear up something before you find animals in hell that you wish had no rights. God made the earth and everything in it. God gave man the responsibility to take care of the earth, God also gave man food in form of meat. For meat you have to kill and that is reality as human culture. Domestic animals e.g cats and dogs its common sense, a young child with relatively happy childhood would not harm pets, what leads to hostility at adulthood is a result of interactions between humans. Why do men work so hard to kill other men? Why would you kill or not kill someone? These are questions which are answered by the environment you are in and the type of heart you have to deal with that environment. Everybody is unique that is why this earth is worth living in. As an individual you do your best to uphold animal rights if that is what your heart says is right, other people in other parts of the world have bigger problems like trying to save their own lives from starvation and war. Why not thank Jesus you have a choice to be vegiterian? Some people dont even have a drop of water, that also is reality. You should be asking God for the wisdom to teach people how to love animals because in another part of the world if the people there hear how much money is spent on pet food they would flip, if they had the energy. Be happy you have your lifestyle, if it sucks, pray for wisdom. Shit will change. I personally love cats wild and domestic. People are the ones you need to deal with when it comes to emotions the Bible is a manual to deal with human nature at different times to sustain harmony because if human life and freedom of expression is not upheld then animal rights wont be considered important. The is the book that believes in Life and Love more than any other. Evil is a reality and so is death, better the thought of heaven after death than to find reality as hell.

    • Hi Arthur. First thanks for stopping by and sharing. I appreciate it. I wrote the article and stated my ideas. That is all. There are many fine Christian people who have their own high standards on cat welfare. I still believe the Bible could and should do more for cat welfare and that Christianity should be less concerned with the human and more concerned with all creatures who depend on the natural resources of the planet to live. The Christian Church should lead on animal welfare. It does not. The Bible is far to silent on this important topic. It is an old, outdated book. It should be re-written and updated.

      • How could the “bible” do anymore for human or cat welfare, than we can in this modern age of civilisation. ? I am so tired of these bible-thumpers. I am about to tell everybody that “I am a Delilah,” just to see what ensues…

    • Hello Arthur, I enjoyed your comment, you talk a lot of sense.
      I think most of those of us who care deeply about animals also care about people and the environment too. I know I do and try to help those I can help, but we can each only do so much and I hate it that some people who call themselves Christians do nothing for others.
      Not having pets who eat pet food wouldn’t change things for the starving people, I am truly sorry for them but me not caring for and feeding cats, our own and cats in need, wouldn’t be enough to save those people.
      I do appreciate I have the choice to be vegetarian and know that if everyone stopped eating animals there would be enough grain grown to feed all the starving people in this world. Instead that grain is fed to animals especially bred to be killed to feed people lucky enough to afford to eat. Some of those animals living in horrible conditions and dying in agony, no matter what is said about the supposedly humane killing of them.
      Surely God didn’t intend animals to be born to die in suffering?
      Interestingly I have some Jehovahs Witness friends who tell me there is no Heaven, that Heaven is right here on earth. How so when so many people are suffering? A Pentecostal friend told me only the people of her religion will go to Heaven. It’s all very confusing, if there IS a God, surely it’s the same rule for all Religions?

    • There is a book called “The Gospel of the Holy Twelve” said to be a translation of an early Christian document found in a Buddhist monastery in Tibet. One legend in it seems to be among those things left out of the Bible when they aught to have been put in., for they bring before us the mind of Jesus Christ much more clearly than some other recordings by the disciples.

      “As Jesus entered a certain village, He saw a young cat which had none to care for her, and she was hungry and cried unto Him, and He took her up, and put her inside His garment, and she lay in His bosom. And when He came into the village He set food and drink before the cat, and she ate and drank, and showed thanks unto Him. And He gave her unto one of His disciples who was a widow, whose name was Lorenza, and she took care of her. And some of the people said, ‘This man careth for all creatures. Are they His brothers and sisters that He should love them?’ And He said unto them, ‘Verily these are your fellow creatures, of the great Household of God; yea, they are brothers and sisters, having the same breath of life in the Eternal. And whosoever careth for one of the least of these, and giveth it to eat and drink in its need the same doeth it unto me; and whosoever willingly suffereth one of these to be in want, and defendeth it not when evilly treated, suffereth the evil as done unto me.’”

  4. I think this was a very nice article, Michael, pointing out some problems with Christian theology, but also showing that some progress is being made. I’m not ready to throw out the baby with the bathwater, but I think even my own pastor is way off. I always hear that the animals and the earth were created “for us to use.” That’s just not something a Christian should say because the Bible says everything was created by, through and for Jesus Christ. That means it’s His, not ours. The Bible is Christocentric, not human centric. Also, the idea that animals don’t have souls isn’t really in the Bible. The idea of the soul is the first thing to be got rid of if we really want to commit atrocities toward other humans. Knowing this about human nature, why would any religion say animals don’t have souls? It will lead to all sorts of atrocities. It has.

    It’s good that we focus on animal rights, but in the end we can’t bring Eden back. We can’t make things the way they should be, even if every person became a vegetarian. Animals still eat and kill other animals. I think they do this because it is God’s way of showing us just how serious our rebellion against Him is, just how broken our relationship with Him and with His creation is. Nothing is as it was originally intended to be. Then people complain, “What kind of God would make a world like this, with so much suffering?” But He didn’t make it that way. We did. We live in the world we deserve.

    Since the animals never deserved it, I have to believe a just God cannot do anything less than reward them for their service to Him. They serve Him for our sakes because He has decided that we are worth saving, even at the cost of trashing everything else. We should be humbled, driven to the cross of Christ because there is nowhere else to go in the face of so much grief. But we still aren’t in hell.

    Hell is when God gives up on something from His creation and just throws it away, the way we’d throw away a crumpled up piece of paper we don’t need anymore. I think being thrown away by Him is so bad that He is willing to subject all of creation to temporary suffering for our sakes, so that we will turn to Him. Anything we suffer here, anything any animal suffers here, can be healed by Him– but once you’re thrown away, there is no more healing. Then body and soul die forever. No animal will ever experience that or ever has. But that is not to say they don’t have souls. Their souls are already right with God. Wouldn’t that be such a better thing to preach than that they don’t have a soul?

  5. There is always someone who wants credit for a rescue, but, who cares? , as long as the kitten or cat is rescued? 😉

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