What makes a 'being' sentient?
The dictionary definition is defined as "able to experience feelings." So sentient beings experience emotions like happiness, joy, gratitude as well as pain, suffering, and grief.
Scientists (and anyone who has ever had an animal ) has determined that animals are sentient.
If you know this, it changes how you think, how you act, etc. when dealing with animals - any animals (even humans).
I think what got me onto this subject is that recently I've been re-reading James Herriot's "All Creatures Great and Small". That man knew this about animals. It's so obvious in his writing. He really cared. Over the years I've read all his books, watched his series (several different ones) on TV, and just happened to be sent the ebooks recently from a friend on my Kindle. So I started reading them again. Love them!
Studies have shown that some animals ARE... and that possibly there are degrees of self awareness. Now there is a difference apparently from self awareness (conscious of being a separate entity from it's environment and from other beings like itself) and conscious awareness (being aware that we ARE aware).
There are so many things we don't know. But as time goes by, we are learning. IMO, anyone who has ever lived or worked around animals know they are not that different from us. Some species have more and better communication skills (and this also varies within the specie - some dogs/cats are smarter than other dogs/cats - same as with people).
I read somewhere at some point that an adult dog/cat had the mental ability of a 3 year old child. I personally think this varies also - some smarter, some not so much.
And yet there are people who look upon animals as if they haven't any feelings or understanding. Animals know when they are loved or not loved. They learn to trust or not to trust according to their experiences - just like humans. Just because they don't have an equal mental ability doesn't lessen their right to a decent life.
They say that if wild animals have never been around a human or have never been treated badly, they would have no reason to fear us (they may want to eat us if that's their nature, but wouldn't fear us). We see this in areas where raccoons will come to the parks in some areas and take food out of people's hands (we had one here that would come to the door and take vanilla wafers out of my hand). I'm not saying this is a good practice - just an example of how they can come to trust and not fear (and I'm very aware that one should always be wary of wild creatures as they will react badly if frightened).
Not sure where I'm going with this post. Just started thinking about how difficult it is for some animals and how some people don't consider this. "Don't feed the birds/squirrels/wildlife!" "They are a nuisance!" Really?? Yes, they can be an 'inconvenience' sometimes... but when you think of your life compared to theirs, putting up with a little inconvenience isn't so bad.
And I'm not talking just about feral cats, but all feral animals. They do contribute in their own way. Feral cats keep the rodent population down. Birds, opossums, and raccoons eat mosquitoes and other insects, etc.
A few pics of wildlife in our back yard over the years:
These are only a few. I also have pics of birds, wild ducks, toads, snakes,... and once an armadillo stopped by. But it's generally the cats, raccoons, and possums that actually come to the door to look in and ask for something. And the truth is, none of them have ever caused us any trouble.
We do get coyotes on occasion and we can't allow them to stay in the yard... too dangerous for the other critters. We have a signal horn that blasts loud and used to chase the coyotes off... banging a few pots will do it too. But they don't come in often. We do have a 6 feet wood fence.
OK, I'm going to close this as I'm sure it's getting a bit long. Hope I didn't bore you or get any anti-wildlife people in a tizzy. Just started thinking about our animals through the years (both inside cats and outside wildlife) and how much they have enriched our lives (and I do hope to see them again one day - as far as I'm concerned, if there's an afterlife, they will be there too).
Thanks for visiting. Sharing my thoughts with you means a lot.