Is my cat my spirit animal? Can pets be our spirit animals? Most of the time the answer is “no” and, in other instances, it is “yes”. Pets can serve as our soul companions and familiars, and once they cross into the spirit world they may become spirit animals. Let’s first explore these distinctions and then look at the symbolism of different pets as spirit animals such as cat spirit animal, dog spirit animal, and more.
Spirit animals are our guardian angels. They do not have attachments to this world and thus can offer us infinite healing and divine support. Spirit animals do not have wounds or egos or agendas. They give us guidance directly from source, unadulterated and full of cosmic Truth. Keep this definition in mind as we proceed.
Pets as Soul Companions
Pets are our companions, our support network, our friends, our family, our loved ones, our trusted advisors, our best friends, our confidants, and our mirrors.
Just like we have certain people in our lives that we rely on when times are tough and celebrate with when times are great, we have our pets to share the ups and downs of life. They are there for us when no one else is. Oftentimes our pets know more about our interior lives and feelings than the humans we are closest to. They have an excellent sense of empathy.
And, pets are their own unique selves. Each has his/her own set of desires, motivations, intentions, feelings, preferences, habits, flaws, blind spots, fears, patterns, wounds, gifts, talents, and experiences. In essence, when our pets are incarnate, they have their own agendas. They can’t always provide us with unbiased spiritual guidance and support like a spirit animal does because pets have their own little egos and lives going on.
My dog Diesel always has one eye on our chickens to safeguard them from the fox pair on our ranch. He’s always keeping track of where all his humans are and is constantly investigating errant noises. Not only is his attention dispersed, but he is also very concerned about what is going on in his physical world.
At the same time, he is a sensitive Piscean that feels the emotions of others. He responds by approaching with sympathy when I’m sad and steering clear when I need some space. His company can be reassuring and kind, a sweet comfort. I don’t consider Diesel a dog spirit animal, but rather a soul companion.
My cat Rio isn’t my cat spirit animal, but I love him all the same. He can be completely insensitive to whatever task I’m focused on and invade my space to get his need for affection met. And, he also always seems to show up with an air of concern when my son is crying. Rio is an excellent cuddler and is usually willing to oblige my need for snuggling and support during times when I feel down.
In this way, our pets have their own agendas while they also offer their comfort, support, and a healing presence. This makes them excellent soul companions.
Pets as Familiars
There is a special class of pets that are set apart in their ability to connect with the spirit world. These pets are called familiars.
I once had a black cat named Gretchen. She usually hung around when I was doing shamanic journeys for myself and others. She’d lay down and snuggle into my side or nest on top of my lap. I thought she was just taking advantage of the warmth and closeness until one particular day.
During a shamanic journey for a client, Gretchen nestled in for a nap against the crown of my head while I laid on my back. In the middle of the journey, I was talking with a black panther, and it dawned on me. “It’s you!” I exclaimed to the black panther. For months, maybe years, Gretchen had been joining my journeys in the form of the black panther. I heard her affirm with a resounding, “Of course it is,” loud and clear in my heart. She was a miraculous being that way.
Gretchen could walk between the worlds. She was connected with the spirit world in a special way.
Most pets help us through how grounded they are in the present moment and the physical plane. They help bring our fragmented minds and hearts to right here, right now. There is a peace in how connected to nature our pets are. They bring a unique form of support and healing. My horse Mable is very much of the earth. Just standing in her company eases the stress and busyness of the day away. When I’m with her I feel rooted and connected to the natural world around me. She helps bring me into my body, but I wouldn’t call her my familiar.
Familiars are different. They have the capacity and interest to leave this plane and go on soul flights with us. Familiars participate in our ceremonies and rituals. They gravitate towards meditation and speak with us on a soul level. Familiars have the ability to leave the physical plane AND the ability to ground us here. They can offer wise council on spiritual matters, and they also have their own egos and agendas.
Gretchen wouldn’t miss meal time for anything, and she had plenty of opinions about when I should be paying attention to her. She was still very much a cat and not a cat spirit animal. Familiars are somewhere in between soul companions and spirit animals.
Pets as Spirit Animals
As a recap: Spirit animals are our guardian angels. They do not have attachments to this world and thus can offer us infinite healing and divine support. Spirit animals do not have wounds or egos or agendas. They give us guidance directly from source, unadulterated and full of cosmic Truth.
Spirit animals carry the gifts, graces, and messages of their kind (i.e. all bears relate to turning inward to hibernate and all dragonflies bring messages about dreaming).
Spirit animals can show up in three forms. The first is as emissaries. For example, a person can bond with a particular bear spirit animal that has a unique personality. Their specific spirit bear is an emissary for the collective archetype of “bear”. This single spirit bear is that person’s connection to the larger collective of bear medicine.
The second form of a spirit animal is a broad connection to the collective of an animal species. A person may not know a specific personality of a dragonfly spirit, but instead commune with all dragonflies and the wider essence of dragonfly medicine. Every time they see any actual dragonfly or representation of one, the person is connecting with their spirit animal.
The third is through our pets who have passed away. When our pets cross over to the other side they may appear as a spirit animal for us. They are now in spirit form free of the attachments of their bodies and able to act as a channel to Source. They help us relate to the larger graces and gifts of their species (such as cat spirit animal or dog spirit animal), and they provide support and guidance that is particular to us.
Each of these forms are not exclusive. They merge and overlap. I had a close bond with an incarnate red-tailed hawk named Graccia that I trained in a raptor education program. Since she has passed away, I have connected with her as a spirit animal. Every time I see a wild red-tailed hawk, I think of Graccia and I also commune with the larger collective of red-tailed hawk spirit animals.
Meaning of Pet Spirit Animals
Here are descriptions of pet spirit animals with links to longer articles that are available…
Dog Spirit Animal
The meaning of dog spirit animal is first and foremost about loyalty. They are the companion archetype through and through, always there and willing to serve. They are nurturing in their affection and support. Beyond one-to-one loyalty, dogs are also loyal to their pack. They are willing to lend a hand and are invested in collaboration. Someone working with dog spirit animal may either inherently exhibit these qualities of loyalty and collaboration, or they are called to learn how to develop them further.
Dog spirit animal brings a keen sense of smell, helping us track the thoughts of others as well as sense where boundaries are. They are often fiercely protective and help us with learn how to establish our own boundaries and alert others when they are intruding. Obedience may come into play for those who connect with dog spirit animal. It is important to consider who you follow with little question, and be sure that your leaders are worth your loyalty.
Cat Spirit Animal
The meaning of cat spirit animal is independence. Cats are known for thinking for themselves and maintaining a wild streak in the midst of domesticity. The message of cat spirit animal is about knowing that we don’t always have to follow the crowd. No matter how tame we think we’ve become, we always have an untamed side to our nature. Cats help us connect with the part of us that is wild and, thus, with the wilderness.
Paradoxically, cat spirit animal also carries the message of indulgence and relaxation. The cat nap is famous for a reason. Cat spirt animal teaches us that it is okay to lounge in luxury, take the rest of the day off, and enjoy the creature comforts of home. More than any other domesticated animal, cats seem to effortlessly live the paradox of tame and wild. For them, the two sides aren’t opposed, but instead organic expressions of our own nature.
Here are links to extended articles on other animals that can be pet spirit animals:
Don’t see a pet listed? Let me know in the comments which spirit animal you’d like to know more about.