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Animals Have Feelings?

Sometimes I fall asleep with my cat’s head under my chin. It is his idea. For some reason he likes that.

He likes it when I am lying on my left side and he too can get his little head on the pillow alongside me. Yes, he still loves curling up into a complete circle, a favorite sleeping position for cats. But when he is trying to sleep more like me, he sometimes gets so close that when my lips move, they touch his furry nose. Or he may be a bit further away but looking at me intently. What is so interesting or loveable about me, I don’t know.

I realize that he too must have feelings and needs.

I just read a section in the book Sapiens about the idea of happiness—something like, what makes humans the only ones deserving of happiness? What about the other animals? What about the animals we are killing for food and making so uncomfortable—just to feed ourselves and other humans on earth. What about the animals’ feelings?

This is a problem, yet we rarely think about it.

My cat is fastidious. Sometimes he is so concerned about getting his head clean with his paw—licking it and licking it and rubbing it over his head over and over. He also makes sure the rest of his body is clean, of course. Then, I wonder what he objects to when I touch him or pet him in a certain way and he wants to clean it all up right away.

Cool is the word. No matter how he prowls around looking for crumbs or remnants of food, jumping on counters that we try to get him down from. Yesterday when I fed him and his companion Marina, I noticed his tail slightly trembling while he was eating. Cool. These are all feelings. How could they not be?

I wonder about the idea of happiness for animals. Is it more satisfaction or peace or maybe something else. I think of the different concepts of color that are differentiated in various cultures. The distinctions are amazing. There are people in Liberia who don’t distinguish red from orange. There is no word for the other color.

So too, with the description of feelings. We are one dimensional when it comes to feelings, very limited. Animals must have feelings but we have no words for this. Humans or others will look back on this time and say—what weirdos they were, what horrible people, not to think of the animals having feelings.

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