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Scientists discover that animals experience emotions


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#1 Guest_fuzzywuzzy6_*

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 08:14 PM

Itwas widely reported recently that European scientists have discovered that domesticated, pet dogs can experience something much akin to the human emotion of envy: http://www.livescience.com/animals/081208-dog-envy.html

They have long assumed that primates have analogous emotions. They have just now got around to studying the equivalent of envy in dogs and also rats. Some scientists are notoriously rigid. They have long discounted the experiences and anecdotes of pet owners as anthropomorphizing, when, in fact, the pet owners are darn good amateur psychologists and were speaking in short hand. It takes an awful long time to say, "My cats sometimes display behavior remarkably similar to that evidencing the existence of empathy/compassion/sympathy in some humans." They simply say, "I saw a cat show empathy the other day." Or that cats are status conscious and show envy or jealousy or embarrassment or offended sense of dignity. Of course, cats and dogs cannot experience emotions in the same way that humans do. They do not have a cerebrum that has executive judgment or moral reasoning or value judgments in the same way that we do. They do not have religion or spirituality (although the British veterinarian Michael W. Fox and some of his readers do seem to believe that cats have extra sensory perception. I do know that cats believe they can control door opening and owners through mind control. They just stare and stare and stare until what they want to happen, happens.) I have observed pet dogs and a species of wild dog from Africa (on a PBS documentary) that seem to indicate that some species of dogs have a rudimentary conscience: they are aware that certain behaviors will be punished, and engage in placatory behavior when caught out. Cats, on the other hand, seem to be totally unconcerned about whether what they have done is "right" or "wrong".

What do you folks think about the existence of emotion in animals? And what do you think about the scientists who have just now caught up with the amateur Goodalls of the world?

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#2 Laffnmule's Lode

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 11:32 PM

One of the things that my mother's cat, Snowball, does to get our attention, is to tap us, with her paw, on our arm, leg, or even head. When we eat at the dining table, she comes and meows at us, because she did not give us purrrr-mission to eat. We should be giving her attention instead of eating.

Snowball also exhibits grief. She rubs her head on the "magic" cologne and aftershave bottles (think Aladdin's Lamp), hoping that my late father will appear to pet her. She still really misses him, even though it has been 2 years since his passing.

When my grandmother passed on, forty years ago, her cat, Brownie, was so grief stricken, that he refused to eat; so, we had to humanely put him down, because he was starving.
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#3 Guest_fuzzywuzzy6_*

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 11:58 PM

Thank you for your reply, Laffnmule's Lode, after all this time, a reply!

Female cats, particularly those who have mothered litters successfully, do seem to have a larger range of caring emotions than do other cats, but I have sometimes been surprised.

For many, many years, physicians and scientists assumed that other mammals do not experience pain in any significant way. They also believed the same thing about human infants.

I am not for banning all animal research (I think it's okay to use rats and mice; very limited painless research only for other mammals), and am not a vegetarian. I think I am like most folks: I would like to see animals treated more humanely and hope more alternatives will become available in the future. But it is the height of arrogance to assume that, just because we have advanced culture and other animals do not, other animals do not have advanced mental and emotional capabilities and deserve some consideration. Would that be called an anthropocentric bias, when scientists have such prejudices? It also seems to extend to studies of the Neanderthal, whom, it seems, have also been vastly underestimated.

Edited by fuzzywuzzy6, 16 January 2009 - 11:59 PM.


#4 scff249

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 02:03 AM

Really, animals have emotions. Of course, I never realized that a lot to I have no clue how many scientists had that kind of mentality about animals.....

Cats, on the other hand, seem to be totally unconcerned about whether what they have done is "right" or "wrong".


I actually know what you mean :thumbsup: Our cat that we have now pretty much is strange in the fact that she'll keep getting onto a table, that she'll try to go through almost all doors that open, and that, before we de-clawed her, she would scratch at a wall and leap all over the place. Of course, after the de-clawing, she does a prairie dog stance a lot, which is funny to see her do that XD

Oh, and excuse us for not replying. I would've given a response if I saw this :flowers:

........shutting up now.

Edited by scff249, 17 January 2009 - 02:04 AM.

"Ototo'i wa usagi o mita no...Kino wa shika...Kyo wa anata." -Kotomi Ichinose (Clannad) [see below for translation]
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#5 Laffnmule's Lode

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 10:32 PM

Hi fuzzywuzzy6, and scff249,

I just started exploring some of the other areas of this forum, after spending the last week working on trying to get rid of some malware.

Animals certainly know the emotion of fear. Most cats enjoy playing in paper bags, but not Snowball. She is terrified of any type of bag, or anything that resembles, or sounds like a bag; so we surmise (but aren't certain), that she was thrown out of a vehicle in a bag, before she wandered onto my parents' former ranch as a late adolescent, or young adult, cat. My parents had her spayed before she could present them with any kittens.


I became a vegetarian, a year or so ago, for health (and to a lesser extent religous) reasons, rather than ethics. I am not a vegan, yet, and I do miss eating meat.


Of course animals feel pain. Discomfort of varying degrees (up to outright pain), has long been used in the training of horses. It is desired that horses obey at the lowest level of discomfort, but sometimes they don't obey. For example, about 35 years ago, my sisters, and I had a colt that developed the dangerous habit of striking out at us with his front hooves. For our safety, I trained him not to strike by using a riding whip, once, on his front leg each time he raised it to strike. I would only hit him once for each offence. Yes, I was deliberatey causing him pain, but only enough to educate him. Like a parent spanking a child (though, nowdays, some people feel spanking is child abuse).

I believe that even reptiles, like my two snakes, are capable of feeling pain. They don't like being touched or held, but I hold them anyway. Both of my snakes are wild caught; and one, the gopher snake, has scars from where something had bit him or her.

I too support research using animals, as long as they are being treated humanely. Doing online searches for information on beige rats, I came across sites that sell testing equipment for animal research. From their descriptions and pictures, many of those devices appear to be rodent torture chambers.

When I was in college, my Zoology professor indicated that it is believed (in some circles, at least) that the extinction of Neanderthals may have been caused through genocide by homo sapiens.
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#6 BlackSpyder

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 01:18 AM

Most animals have some emotions. My dog knows greed (he love milkbones), hate (he hates the neighbor's cats), loneliness(when no one is home), love (he doesn't stick around because its warm outside), and fear (of the electric fence and coyotes). I know deer know fear (they fear bullets and humans but not little white pickups though). Cats know hate and thats it. Cows and sheep do not have emotions except the ones that make them taste good (truly stupid animals).

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#7 Queen-Evie

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 01:48 AM

My dog gets jealous when I pay attention to my grand-daughter and my grandpuppy.
Now science is finally catching on to what anyone who has spent time with animals has known all along.

#8 MaraM

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 03:07 AM

Oh poor cows - gentle grin! I know it's normally thought that cows are dumb - and perhaps most of them are (I've only known a few). But on the summer farm we had a Jersey that adored me (and I her) ... and my much older brother and I were in the pasture when he was beating the pooey out of me - and she literally came trundling full speed and butted him full force! Knocked him right off his feet and then thunked him a good one with her head while he was down! And then came over to me and licked my face and hair. (You have to love a cow before you find that huge wet raspy tongue a comfort - gentle smile). Yup, I can't help but think if an animal - any animal (even a huge lumbering cow) is given love they will return it. :thumbsup:
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#9 DSTM

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 03:51 AM

After having spent a lifetime, with Animals, they all feel pain,and have Emotions,and fears.
I have found each type of Animal,displays Emotions in different ways,and Humans, don't often recognize these displays.
You show them Kindness and affection,and they will return it,many fold.
For example, I take any of my Cats outside of their secure environment,and immediately they cry and dont cease,till home again.
Been in Slaughter Houses and Animals can smell death.They behave different from normal,bellow and empty their Bowels everywhere. Pigs squeal non stop before Slaughter.
Scientists, are slow in finally waking up, to the emotional behavior of Animals.















#10 Guest_fuzzywuzzy6_*

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 01:33 PM

I have a cat who has always been exceptionally kind and friendly, both to other cats and to people, even before she had her first litter. (She has had two 2 kitten litters; the second pregnancy happened before she weaned her first litter, and she is now fixed.) She is genuinely concerned about the health of other cats, and will sit with them when they don't feel well. She was very popular with the tomcats in our neighborhood even when she wasn't in her mating season; they would come by, determine each other's health and what food they'd each been eating. Missy seemed delighted to see these fellows; they would sit comfortably by each other for a half hour or more, very quietly. Scientists who say that cats are not social animals are mistaken; they evidently believe that, to be a social animal, the species either has to live in a hivelike hiearchy like ants or bees, or live in packs, like wolves, or live in colonies, like prairie dogs. There are a lot of species that have genetic rules for interactions upon encounter and have status and privilege distinctions. Domestic cats are very much aware of status and privilege, and assume another cat or person is being favored just because that cat or person is being treated differently.

Missy went into a 6-8 week depression, when my father, who is becoming increasingly more senile, went to live with my married sister out of state. Her eyes were dull, she lost her appetite for everything, and even the presence of her daughter, Emma, with whom she has a pair bond and plays a lot, did not cheer her up. I could not do anything for her. I finally started sleeping in my father's bed, and, after a few weeks, she cheered up and let me attend to her.

Years ago, I worked with a woman who had raised a pig whom she was intending to sell. She shared many stories about this young female pig, who had a sense of humor and was very affectionate. The pig would push my co-worker down in the mud when she felt her pen had not been kept properly clean. My co-worker was at home the day her pig was to be picked up. She had not realized the purchaser was going to slaughter her pig on-site, and she heard it. She vowed never to raise another pig. The woman was quite traumatized, and felt very guilty and ashamed.

One thing I have read several times about animal experimentation: many cosmetic companies are proud to advertise that they do no animal testing, but many of them hire the testing out to labs that do use animal testing. This in spite of the fact that there are now better, more ethical techniques for testing out there, including using computer modeling and tissue cultures.

Edited by fuzzywuzzy6, 19 January 2009 - 01:36 PM.


#11 Guest_fuzzywuzzy6_*

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 10:26 PM

:thumbsup: On the lighter side, Theonion.com has the rigid views of some evolutionists and the creationists exactly right. In an article entitled, "Evolutionists flock to Darwin-shaped stain," The Onion lampoons rigid dogmatists: scientists expressly, some of the religious by implication:

http://mobile.theonion.com/content/node/85766

And yes, I verified the domain IP address with WHOIS, it is inauguration night, and The Onion shares an IP with the Washington Post.

#12 Laffnmule's Lode

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 02:26 AM

Even my rats display behaviors that look like envy. When I walk up to a cage that contains multiple rats, they push each other away while vying for my attention. Rats are social and live in colonies. According to people, on rat web sites, a single rat living by itself will get depressed and not thrive.
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#13 Guest_fuzzywuzzy6_*

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 05:19 PM

The article I had read on the study of envy in dogs had also mentioned rats.

I had no idea that rats were social in the sense of wanting and needing contact with other rats. There has been a lot of publicity about rat pecking orders and violence associated with rat overcrowding, but those studies seem to involve very small spaces and very dense populations. I guess they were trying to do a study analogous to the effects of big city/slum life on humans.

#14 ryan_w_quick

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 04:13 PM

i have 2 lil dogs. one of them always comes and trys to push the other out of the way if i'm trying to pet her, he gets real jealous
"To do less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." Steve Prefontaine

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#15 Guest_fuzzywuzzy6_*

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 10:27 PM

I think one reason why we find our pets so entertaining and endearing is that, in some ways, they are a lot like us. The other reason may be that they are quite alien. I have one cat, Emma, that I call my little alien. She acts very catlike in some ways, but in some ways she is just strange. Her mother Missy was a very loving mother, who has a pair bond with her, and Emma had only one other litter mate, so she got a lot of attention growing up. But sometimes Emma is just weird, and i can't explain why.

Some SETI experts have suggested that if we wish to understand or imagine what alien life might be like, we should start with some of the life forms on earth. Some SF writers like Donald Brin in his Uplift Saga have done this. But then, I find some of our politicians pretty alien, as they don't seem to have very good theories of mind.




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