"God gives gifts to all creatures… no matter what their station or condition. He may give innocence to a lunatic, or heaven to a thief. Contrary to most theologians, I have always believed that even worms and weasels have souls, and that even they are capable of salvation."
- Mark Helprin, "A Soldier of the Great War"
My Mom used to say that animals don’t have souls. Her complex religious beliefs didn’t leave room for puppies and kitties in heaven. Which was probably just as well since she was busy raising too many kids and taking care of her invalid mother-in-law while we were growing up. That didn’t leave any time or money for household pets. Thus, it wasn’t until I was older, and a bit wiser, and considerably more doubtful than Mom about the business of immortal souls, that I got a pet cat.
My cat is my pet, my blood pressure medication, my solace, my furry cuddly toy whose purr can induce amnesia about whatever was bothering me before I picked her up and held her to my ear and buried my nose in her warm soft fur. She listens and I’m pretty sure understands every single secret I whisper to her.
Regardless of whether she has a soul - or for that matter, whether I have one - doesn’t matter to me so much these days. Mom would be shocked – shocked – at how I have expended so much devotion on a small brown animal of no particular beauty.
But even Mom wouldn’t have been able to put a price on a soul. My grocery store, apparently, can. I recently purchased a “secret invisible sol” (sic) for my cat at the bargain price of $2.46. I do think however, that Mom would agree with me that a soul shouldn’t be taxable.