I am currently enrolled in a 16 hour Hospice volunteer training program with the intent to serve as a Reiki and pet therapy volunteer. The first six hours of training consisted of five units covering the dying process, volunteer parameters, caregiver roles, special populations, and legal and organizational procedures. In a session often punctuated by our own personal, sometimes emotional disclosures, Ann, the Volunteer Director, softened the clinical descriptions of "the death journey" with poignant patient anecdotes from her own experience and Hospice literature, revisiting the phenomenon of fading earthly consciousness teetering between worlds as we prepare to die. Patients, open eyed but not fully present, often enter audible conversation with loved ones who passed on before them. Debbie, my friend of 40 years, described her fascination watching her father just before he died; he stared into space and engaged in animated dialogue with his mother, who had died fifty years prior. Our seminar director shared many such stories, all of which validate Dr. Raymond Moody's findings in Life After Life: significant people from our past who made the journey before us retrieve us from the earthly plane at the end of this life. I know from my own meditations and readings that our animal companions return to escort us to the Light. But in this venue I was hardly prepared for her most astounding and exciting revelation: many Hospice patients, rapidly approaching their last breath, ask the same question:

"What was that black cat with wings I just saw pass by the room?"

A spirit cat as an agent of Light, delivering the "all aboard!" message to those about to enter the tunnel . Whether it's the collective unconscious perceiving a single Jungian symbol of death or an actual summoning by a feline angel doesn't matter. It validates our connection to animals on a soul level and makes real a theory of divine exchange: we are their guardians in this life; they becomes ours in the next. What greater love can there be?

About sixteen years ago, in a past life regeression, I was asked to let my consciousness drift to the end of a former life and allow my release into the void. I remember the darkness, the nothing; I had no fear or expectation but felt as if I were waiting, and when the therapist asked me who was coming for me, images of animals, one after the other, began to emerge, soft, blurry edged images of animals leading me from darkness. I know this expectation is held by many indigenous peoples.

For me , the notion of a winged cat passing my doorway to signal my imminent passage offers overwhelming comfort, reassurance that the Spirit never leaves us alone and fearful, a fulfillment of traditional tribal promises as well as God's repeated promise to us in Biblical contexts: "Fear not, for I am with you." What greater love can there be?

For an interesting real-time manifestation of this spiritual phenomenon, read the story of a Boston Hospice cat who accurately predicts the deaths of patients:


Author's Bio: 

Rev. Lisa Shaw, R.M., is an animal communicator and Reiki Master with a specialization in animals. She is a professor, curriculum writer, and intuitive whose educational materials have been published nationally. She is currently completing a second M.A. in pastoral ministry with a speicalization in Loss and Healing.