As chill winds bite and winter sunlight slants thin and fleeting, we seek that extra bit of warmth—“cheating” the thermostat a degree or two, sidling up to our honey on the couch, donning that extra sweater for layering.

But the luckiest of us enjoy the best kind of layering: a blissed-out cat purring on our lap, or a contented dog nestling his muzzle on our instep. For adding warmth to our lives, animals are champs, a fact not lost on some of history’s greatest minds and spirits. Here’s a sampler of their animal-loving reflections.

“I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.”—Abraham Lincoln

“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.”—Jean Cocteau

“I, who had had my heart full for hours, took advantage of an early moment of solitude, to cry in it very bitterly. Suddenly, a little hairy head thrust itself from behind my pillow into my face, rubbing its ears and nose against me in a responsive agitation, and drying the tears as they came.”—Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too.”— Samuel Butler

“By ethical conduct toward all creatures, we enter a spiritual relationship with the universe.”—Albert Schweitzer

"Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to a man. Compassion and living kindness are the hallmarks of achievement and happiness.”—Dalai Lama XIV

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”—Roger Caras

“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”—Ernest Hemingway.

"When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is not amusing herself with me more than I with her.”—Montaigne

“If a man aspires towards a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals.”—Albert Einstein

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened.”—Anatole France

“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.”—Chief Seattle

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”—Mohandas Gandhi

“If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”—St. Francis of Assisi

“When a man wants to murder a tiger he calls it sport; when the tiger wants to murder him he calls it ferocity.”—George Bernard Shaw

“All beings are fond of themselves, they like pleasure, they hate pain, they shun destruction, they like life and want to live long. To all, life is dear; hence their life should be protected.

”—Mahavira (also known as Vardhamana)

“Kindness to all God’s creatures is an absolute rock-bottom necessity if peace and righteousness are to prevail.”—Sir Wilfred Grenfell


Rona Cherry has written about health and wellness for The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Ladies Home Journal, Vegetarian Times, and many other publications. She was the editor-in-chief of several national magazines, including Fitness and Longevity. She is also an ordained Interfaith Minister. Check out her website here! (www.ronacherryassociates.com)

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