Teachings on Animal Spirits

Do animals have spirits?

Yes, probably. Several Church leaders have taught that animals have spirits.[1]

So when animals die, are they waiting in the spirit world?

Maybe? Neither the scriptures nor Church leaders offer any information about where animal spirits go immediately after they die.[2]

Does that mean that they will be resurrected?

Yes, probably. Joseph Smith[BIO] taught that animals would be "saved,"[3] which implies resurrection. Joseph Fielding Smith[BIO] specifically taught that animals would be resurrected.[4]

Does that mean I get to be with my pets in the millennium?

Maybe? The traditional interpretation of the "the lion shall lie with the lamb"[5] passage in Isaiah is that it refers to the millennium, so this may be an allusion to resurrected animals that live during that time.

Should you feel bad for eating something with a spirit?

Probably not. According to early church leaders, even vegetables have spirits.[6] However, there have also been church leaders that have counseled to eat less meat, but not for reasons having to do with the spirit of animals.[7]

Joseph Smith once taught the brethren to not kill any animals except for the purpose of preserving themselves from hunger.[8] So while it may not be a consequence of animals having spirits that leads to counsel not to eat meat, there is still counsel to treat animals well and eat meat sparingly.[9]

If animals ate meat for food, will they eat meat in the afterlife?

Probably not. Animals are made of meat, and it's unlikely that resurrected animals will eat animals. The scriptures describe lions eating straw like an ox[10] which supports this idea.

However, Christ eats a fish after his resurrection,[11] so it seems like a resurrected body can still eat non-resurrected meat.

So if animals don't eat meat, what will they eat?

Straw, obviously.

Does straw have a spirit?

Straw is dead grass, so probably not.[12]

Will animals be able to talk to me?

Possibly? Some scriptures include talking animals.[13] Joseph Smith taught that God understood the languages of beasts in Heaven.[14] There's also an account of Brigham Young talking to oxen in an unknown language.[15]

Are there going to be animals in all the kingdoms?

Maybe? Being in a lesser kingdom implies some kind of application of mercy and justice based on moral agency, and it's unclear how much moral agency animals have.

Will there be dinosaurs?

Probably. Dinosaurs were alive, now they are dead. So presumably, they will be resurrected and saved like all the other animals.

What about mosquitoes?

No.

Some People Say . . .

"There are some things we just don't know in this life and won't know until after we're resurrected."

— overheard in Sunday School

The Facts

  • Animals probably have spirits.

  • Prophets have taught that animals will be resurrected.

  • Communicating with animals in a more direct way in the afterlife will likely be possible.

Our Take

It’s heartening to know that animals are a very real part of God’s creation and plan. And it’s heartwarming to think about talking with your resurrected pet someday. Animals having spirits makes them more like us. Should it change the way we treat them?

Animals are just as much God’s creation as anything else, which means He loves them and cares about how they’re treated. Nature can be harsh in the animal kingdom and eating and being eaten is part of mortality. But knowing that animals have spirits should inform the respect and care we give to them.

What's Your Take?

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These takes are curated for a general audience and may contain minor edits when posted.
  • Hector
    Our Neighbor last night lost her sweet cat, Tommy, to a neighbors car. She is devastated. Going over to help bury him today. She loves all her rescued pets. I am so sad for her.
Footnotes