How your Soul Differs from that of an Animal
The Orthodox Church teaches that animals have souls, although not the same as ours. When conceived, God bestows upon us the nous, which distinguishes us from the other animals. It is the nous that is the eye of the soul, intelligent and noetic, and by nature designed to commune with God. The nous is the center of man and is where true (spiritual) knowledge is validated.
Just as we are being redeemed and transformed, so is the entire cosmos. Animals are a part of this cosmos that is being prepared for the eternal Kingdom that will have no end. The kind treatment of animals reflects in an iconic way the truth that in Paradise God has called us to name our animals as Adam did, and live in communion with them. Saint Seraphim of Sarov even befriended wild bears.
Love in Christ,