Whether or not you believe in an afterlife, many people are convinced their cats return after death to give them solace.

Shortly after the death of her 17-year-old cat, Linus, Annette heard a scratching at the front door that sounded exactly like her old tabby asking to come inside. She would have put it down to imagination, except that her young dog Brutus heard the sound too. He reacted just the way he used to when Linus wanted in, by dashing expectantly to the door and peering out through the screen.

Brenda, meanwhile, was lying awake in bed one night a few days after losing her elderly tortoiseshell, Figaro, when she heard the sound of purring progressing up the blankets towards her face. “It actually freaked me out at the time, but I later wondered if it was Figaro coming to comfort me one last time,” she says. “He often used to jump on my bed and walk purring up the covers to crawl under the blankets with me.”

Ancient origins

The first known cat to be sent into the afterlife was Tamyt, an ancient Egyptian kitty who lived in the city of Memphis in 1350 B.C. She was a favorite of Prince Djehutymose, who along with his people believed that actions done properly on earth were a way to the afterlife once a person or animal died. Tamyt was mummified and buried in an elaborate sarcophagus, similar to those of royal heritage. The sarcophagus bore an image of her dining on duck on a table, to symbolize her eating in the next world. Tamyt happy and healthy in the afterlife.

Enduring beliefs Many people today also feel their animals have gone or will go to a better place when they pass. “We’ve received hundreds of stories over the years from people who have had an experience of life after death with an animal that convinces them the pet’s spirit has lived on,” says Linda Anderson who co-authored the book Saying Goodbye to Your Angel Animal with her husband Allen.

Another researcher in this area is Kim Sheridan, author of the award-winning book, Animals and the After Life. “When I began my research, I was inundated,” she says. “From all over the world, people were calling, people were e-mailing me, they were faxing me to tell their stories.” Kim adds that most people were afraid to tell their stories because they thought others would not believe them.

More examples

As with Annette and Brenda, the reason people believe their animals have an afterlife is because they’ve had contact with them after death. “One woman had a near death experience during open heart surgery,” says Kim. “During the experience, she saw her beloved cat who had passed away. It was so beautiful for her to see this cat after all those years and to know he is waiting for her.”

Kim also recounts the story of a woman who felt extreme guilt over euthanizing her ill and suffering feline. During a near death experience of her own, she also saw her deceased cat, who let her know she was forgiven, that she did nothing wrong and everything was fine. When the woman returned, she no longer feared death and knew she would be with her cat again when she herself passed.

Of course, many devoted cat lovers do not share these views. For them, the relationship they share with their animals here on earth is all they need. Others, however, firmly believe that relationship will last long past this lifetime. Could it really be true, or is it just imagination and wishful thinking? We’ll never find out for sure till it’s our turn to pass, but the possibility is an intriguing and comforting one.

Types of Contact

Kim outlines a number of different ways a deceased cat might communicate with us.

  1. Animal communicators are third party individuals who specialize in psychically communing with animals, including those that have passed.
  2. Mediums usually come to large gatherings, and convey messages from deceased loved ones, including animals.
  3. Near death experiences sometimes bring people into contact with animals who have died.
  4. After death experiences are the most common. They occur when an awake and alert person receives a communication from an animal that has passed away. There are different ways these experiences can happen:

a. You may feel a general presence of the animal in the room.
b. You may actually feel the animal brush up against you, or jump on your bed.
c. You may hear the cat, as Annette and Brenda did. Meowing and purring are examples.
d. You may actually see the deceased cat. These are referred to as vision experiences.
e. The most common is to see the animal in a dream.