Question: Guru, I have heard that cats can take away your spiritual progress if they are around you. Is that true? I am worried because I have a cat at home.4

Sri Chinmoy: Some people are very fond of cats, while others are fond of dogs. Still others may be fond of horses and other animals. These gentle animals — not tigers and lions and panthers — can teach us affection and sweetness, and we can also offer them these qualities. You give affection to your little cat, and the cat can give affection to you in its own way.

People are so fond of their dogs, and dogs are so fond of their masters. The master gives the dog just a little food, and the dog is ready to give its life for the master at any moment.

As soon as you see your cat, when your cat is moving around you, your affection comes to the fore. Even if you are stonehearted, even if you are given to quarrelling and fighting and there is no compassion in your life, when your own cat comes near you and moves around you, licking your feet, for the time being you become the most kind-hearted person.

I have never said and I will never say that cats and dogs or other animals that we keep in the house will take away our spiritual progress — no! They only add to our spiritual progress. If we are affectionate to them, if they are affectionate to us, it will not take away our spiritual progress. Again, there are certain immortal stories in the Mahabhatata. These are very rare stories. An old lady was very, very devoted to Lord Krishna. Sri Krishna and Arjuna were observing her. Arjuna said to Sri Krishna, “This old lady is so devoted to you. She struggles so hard to take care of her cow. Can you not give her some means so that she does not have to work so hard?”

Lord Krishna said, “No, I want the cow to die,” and the cow did die. Why? This particular lady was very spiritually advanced, so Sri Krishna wanted her not to be attached to that cow, but only to think of him. This kind of incident is very, very rare. That lady was a super-class devotee of Lord Krishna. Ordinary seekers, budding seekers and seekers who have been on the spiritual path for many years can easily have a cat or dog. But if one is on the verge of God-realisation and attachment comes into the picture, then it is not good. In the beginning of the spiritual life or in the middle stage, it is all right to have a cat or dog. You are fond of someone, let us say, and someone is fond of you. But you have to be sure that this fondness is not attachment. Attachment is totally different. I have never written and I will never write anything against innocent fondness.

In my family, I was for dogs and my sisters were for cats. It is a matter of individual preference. Many years ago when I was living in Manhattan, a devotee’s cat passed by me. Then it sat on my lap. It wanted to have a new life, a human life, and I did grant a human life to that cat.

GMG. 13-19, Sri Chinmoy answered the following questions on 29 October 2006 at Aspiration-Ground in Jamaica, New York.