Animals and Fear…nighttime musings


Why do animals feel fear? What are they afraid of? Their lives? If so, would that not imply that animals are at least aware of their own mortality? And if they are aware of their own mortality, wouldn’t that also imply that animals are, on some level, capable of rationalizing that death is final? In that case, what truly separates humans from animals? The ability to rationalize?

We know that humans are animals, but not all animals are human. How do we distinguish man from beast? The ability to contemplate a complex or intangible thought?

We, as humans, have endeavored to understand the meaning of life and why we are here. What our purpose is, what it means to truly live…these thoughts have been at the forefront of man’s consciousness for millennia.

I’m curious, however, to gain some perspective on this. These are the nighttime musings that keep me awake at night, when I should be sleeping (these thoughts and the BBC World News streaming live on my NPR app).

I have a cat who is, literally, a scaredy cat (he he). He absolutely hates loud objects that move, i.e. the vacuum, the dump truck, snow plows, etc. But he has no problem with the dishwasher or washer and dryer, all three of which command a certain amount of awe at their noise-making abilities. So, my cat can at least understand that a loud object that moves is a bigger threat than one that remains stationary.

This I can understand a something instinctual. Were the object hostile, it could pursue my cat (assuming, of course, he was in the wild and the loud moving object was a predator). In comparison, a loud object that doesn’t move is less likely to come after him.

Okay. I can understand survival instincts. But what gets me is the fact that my cat seems genuinely scared, not just concerned that he is about to be hunted. He remains hidden until he decides it is safe to come out, and then slowly crawls into my lap and cuddles with me for hours (which I definitely do not mind…I’ve made him such a little baby).

At any rate, I thought I would pose the idea and see if I could get any thoughts. Like I said, my mind wanders really late at night…often I think my ideas are brilliant at the time, but later re-evaluate them once I have actually gotten sleep.

On that note, I’ll bid you adieu. I look forward to hearing thoughts and comments.


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