“cares for.” The Hebrew is literally, “knows the life of his animal,” but “knows” in this context means to care for or care about. The word “know” can mean to know or experience, but it can also have an idiomatic or pregnant sense and mean “to care about,” “to act lovingly toward.” Thus, Psalm 144:3 (YLT 1862/87/98) says, “what is man that Thou knowest him,” while the NIV(2011) translates that in a way that recognizes the idiom: “what are human beings that you care for them?” Similarly, Proverbs 12:10 (YLT) says, “The righteous man knoweth the life of his beast,” while the NIV(2011) has, “The righteous care for the needs of their animals.” [For more on “know” see commentary on Gen. 3:22. For on other words that have an idiomatic sense, such as “remember,” see commentary on Luke 23:43].
“life.” The Hebrew is nephesh (#05315 נָ֫פֶשׁ), which is technically “soul,” which is the life of the animal. This is just one more verse that clearly shows animals have a soul, just as humans do. When animals die, their soul does not go to heaven, and the same is true for people. When animals and people die, they are dead, in the ground. God will raise people from the grave, but not animals.