I don’t know that there is a “Catholic” position on this (someone can correct me if I’m wrong.)
But heaven is a place of supernatural beatitude, not merely natural happiness. So it’s not clear to me how animals can participate in that, as they have no supernatural life, no grace.
As far as I remember they *do* in fact have souls, just not rational ones—the soul, the anima, is the animating principle of a body, and to some extent everything alive has one. Even plants, although they do not have sensitive souls like animals do.
What I always come back to is the “new heavens and the new earth” which awaits us at the end of time. Can anyone imagine an earth without other living things? It would be a wasteland, a void. And moreover, it would not be at all conducive to the *natural* happiness of man, who was not only created in a world with living things in it, but was set above them as master to tend and to keep them. Presumably we will still be doing that in heaven, as that is our nature.
So I can’t imagine that the heaven of the blessed is devoid of living things. I’m willing to bet that animals will in fact be there, just that they will enjoy natural happiness there according to their capacity and that we humans alone will enjoy the supernatural happiness of the beatific vision.
- The Monks of New Skete