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Do Animals Have Feelings?

I have heard this question before many times and I have been involved in discussions on the subject. The answer you get varies, depending on who you ask. If you ask the scientist type you usually hear, "No, animals act only based on instinct and training and not on emotion or feelings". However, if you ask an animal lover or pet owner you almost always here, "Yes, animals do have feelings and emotions".

 

Well, I do not know who is right or who is wrong, but let me tell you a little story and you decide for yourself:

It was early Sunday morning and I was driving through my neighborhood on the way to Home Depot to pick up a couple of items I needed. Approximately half way through my one mile trip I came across a car stopped in the road way with its emergency flashers on. There was a lady standing on the grassy shoulder of the road next to what appeared to be an animal that had been hit. I stopped to make sure everything was okay and she told me that she stopped because she had seen the two cats much earlier lying together and when she saw them still together next to the road an hour later, thought that they were injured.  However, when she approached, the large orange cat got up and ran across the street into the woods. I looked at the remaining cat, which was a medium sized female with a thick black coat. She was stretched out on the ground as though she was sunning herself, but the trauma to her head made it obvious that she was deceased.  


A quick survey of the scene revealed that she was struck near the center of the street and was either knocked or dragged herself onto the shoulder of the road where she expired. I also noticed that a large orange tom was sitting across the street watching me very closely. The lady that had stopped initially drove off just after my arrival. Seeing that there was nothing that I could do to assist, I got back into my van and continued on my way.


Approximately 45 minutes later I was driving along the same stretch of road returning from the store. As I approached the scene of the aforementioned accident I observed that the large orange tom had crossed the street again and resumed his post beside his deceased mate. I was so surprised by what I saw that I pulled my car into the median so that I could take a better look.


Being an animal lover I have observed many interesting behaviors of animals both in the wild and captivity. I have seen Sandhill Cranes, who mate for life, stand guard over a fallen mate. I have seen dogs stay by the side of a deceased owner and even become aggressive towards anyone who approaches. I have seen primates cradle a stillborn infant and obviously morn it’s loss. However, this was the first time that I had witnessed a feline exhibit behavior of this nature.





(Click to enlarge)


The tom was lying on the ground next to his deceased companion. He had one paw on her abdomen and was resting his chin on that paw. I sat there for a few minutes watching him, thinking about what a sad picture the scene would make. I then proceeded home where I told my wife about the situation. I grabbed my camera and she grabbed a can of cat food and we returned to the area where I had stopped before. The large orange tom was still there, resting his head on the body of his mate. I took a few pictures from a distance and then began to approach slowly. Once I began to near his location, the tom got up and ran back across the street where he sat down and watched us carefully. My wife crossed the street with the can of cat food as an offering to the tom. However, as she got close, he again ran into the near by bushes. She left the food on the ground near where he had entered the bushes and we returned to our car. I then drove home to unload the items I had purchased earlier and eat my lunch, which had been waiting on the table for me from earlier.







(Click Images to Enlarge)



As I sat eating my lunch I could not help but think about the orange tom and how sad he looked lying with the body of his mate. Then I started to worry that he would get hit as well as he crossed the street back and forth to stand guard over his friend. I decided to go back to the scene and move the body across to the side of the road where the bushes were located. I grabbed some gloves and drove back to where I had stopped before. When I arrived I saw that the tom had again crossed the street and was lying with the body of its mate again. Resting its paw on her side, and his chin on his paw. I was amazed that this tom had been laying like this, with the body of his mate, for hours. Then a jogger came along on the near by sidewalk and frightened the tom who ran back across the street. He sat there and watched carefully until the jogger was gone and then crossed the road again to resume his post. This large orange tom had stayed for hours by his fallen mates side, leaving only when threatened by someone approaching his position. As I got near to him he again ran across the street where he sat and watched carefully as I picked up the body of the deceased kitty and carried it across the street. As I approached he again disappeared into the bushes. I placed the body near the edge of the bushes a few yards from the path that the cats had created into the undergrowth. I also noticed that the food we had left earlier had been eaten.


I repositioned my car about 50 yards down the street and sat watching for a while. After about 10 minutes I saw the large orange tom as has reappeared from the bushes. He walked back out to the edge of the road and looked across to the other side where his mate’s body had been laying. He raised his head high and looked left and right across the street apparently searching for his mate’s body. He then sat down and waited for several minutes still looking across the street. The tom then got up, looked in my direction, and proceeded back into the bushes apparently unaware of the location I had placed the body. A few minutes later a County Animal Services Officer came along. The lady who had stopped earlier had called to report the cats. I pointed out the body to her and she removed it. I drive by that location every day, but have not seen the tom since that Sunday morning. A year has gone by now and I still think of this incident every time I drive past the area.


**UPDATE**


On the morning of Agust 27th 2009, I was driving passed the same area on my way to work when I saw the old orange tom. He was on the sidewalk a short distance from where I had observed him 2 years earlier. He looked in pretty good shape though he was a little rough around the edges. He jumped onto the fence of a near by house and sat and watched me as I watched him. Hopefully someone is feeding and looking after him. I have not seen much sign of the colony of ferals that he had lived with in the woods thanks to all of the construction in the area.



Please take the time to check out the article locate on PetPlace.com

Do Cats Mourn The Loss Of Another Cat



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