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Animals Have Feelings Too

All types of animals, birds & insecs are very interesting. Many are under attack, but many people like to learn everything about nature.

Animals can think and feel too

Animals can think and feel too

Do Animals Have Emotions?

Emotions can be a complex response to a variety of situations. They can be aroused by several things, such as intense feelings, anger, change, or past memories. Many of us have had dogs and cats we love, and over time, they seem to love us back. Is it possible that all animals have feelings?

There is not much agreement among scientists and nonscientists regarding the nature of animal emotions, but they generally agree that animal emotions are real and very important.

Pythagoreans were people who lived in the sixth century in Crotone, Italy. They believed that animals experienced the same range of emotions that humans experience. Current research has evidence that some animals have a whole range of emotions that include anger, happiness, empathy, grief, curiosity, fear, anxiety, sadness, and joy.

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.

— Josh Billing

Animal Brains

According to neuroscience, the animal brain is similar to the human brain and all mammals. Scientists are learning more about how the animal brain works. Animals have a better sense of smell as their olfactory bulb is larger. People think they are good at navigation, but they forget they are using GPS or maps. Animals can find their way home from thousands of kilometers away. Many children have a photographic memory that tends to fade with age. Chimpanzees have an impressive eidetic memory that also fades with age.

While humans think they have the biggest brain, there are animals that have larger brains. The human brain weighs 1.2 mg, while the sperm whale’s brain weighs 7 kg. The elephant’s brain weighs 5 kg.


Expressing Feelings

Animals are able to express their feelings in a variety of ways. My tuxedo cat, Oscar, that I lost last year had a particular low meow if his food dish was empty. I gave him a lot of attention. Then, when I had back surgery I spent two weeks in rehab. I was tired when I got home, so I laid down in bed. Oscar jumped on the bed and then the pillow. He got as close to me as possible. He came when I called him, which is unusual for cats.

Jonathan Balcombe, a director at the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy, drives each Saturday to a rural Maryland farm for rescued animals that have been neglected or abused. A team of volunteers tends to the animals. There were sheep that stood completely still with their eyelids drooping waiting to be petted. While some will not ever trust a human being again, they still seem to long for human touch. One of the sheep scraped her hoof across Jonathan’s boot repeatedly until her back was massaged.

Opinions of Researchers

Neuroscientists have researched various animals, such as chimpanzees and elephants. They do not all agree about which animals have feelings, but research is ongoing. Scientific studies further our understanding of animals, and scientists follow ethical guidelines, plus federal, state, and local regulations when doing these studies. Scientists have compassion, along with a commitment to be humane. Their findings improve animal welfare and health.

However, only 52 percent of Americans approve of any type of animal research. The Humane Society of the United States was founded in 1954 to fight to end the suffering of all animals.

One small cat changes coming home to an empty house to coming home.

— Pam Brown

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Read More From Pethelpful

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy

Children who have been abused are sometimes coupled with horses who have been neglected or abused to help each other heal. Equine-assisted therapy has been used in Europe for decades, and there are numerous ranches in the United States.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) is a way to assess the abuse a child from 0-17 years may have encountered. The score is based on ten different types of abuse and neglect of a child. This score includes emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Some of these children have lived through years of horrific abuse.

Some of these children spend time on a range while being paired with one of the abused or neglected horses. Kim Tschirret owns a 33-acre ranch in North Carolina. She was abused as a child, so she and her husband care for the horses and work with the children that need help. The results make for heartwarming stories.

Final Thoughts

Are you convinced animals have feelings? I think some of them do, such as dogs, cats, horses, elephants, and apes. I think it is possible all animals have feelings to some degree. I remember reading The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild, which is a wonderful true story taking place in South Africa. I guess everybody has their own opinion.


This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2020 Pamela Oglesby


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 15, 2020:

Hi Adrienne,

I think maybe all animals have some degree of emotions, like caring for their young, etc. I appreciate your comments. Have a good day!

Adrienne Farricelli on December 15, 2020:

While there is debate on whether animals feel complex feelings, I feel that most animals feel at least the most basic ones. There has been an increase in research in animals and I feel this is a very good thing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 15, 2020:

Hi Linda,

I think you are right about animals having complex feelings. I appreciate your comments.

Stay safe and healthy!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 15, 2020:

Hi Lora,

I do not want any animal to be treated poorly or abused in any way. I would like to see that ban passed also. You obviously know more about that than I do, so thank you for sharing that information.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 14, 2020:

Thank you very much for creating this article, Pamela. I think it's important that people think about the feelings of other animals. We seem to be the most advanced animal on Earth, but that doesn't mean that the others are unimportant. Some in particular seem to have complex feelings and behavior.

Lora Hollings on December 14, 2020:

They certainly do and I do hope that we can pass a ban on cosmetic testing in the US as many other countries have done and also use computer models as well as cultured cells to replace animals used for research. It's such a sad and painful life for most of these poor animals. They deserve so much better. Farm animals show that they have feelings too which is why I became a vegan! Mother cows have been known to express much grieving when their baby calves are taken from them and pigs show much emotion too. It is so sad that due to the large amount of animal products that we consume that most of these animals are raised on factory farms where they never get to experience any freedom, fresh air or the sun on their backs. They are totally deprived of any kind of a normal life- confined indoors and to such a small amount of space! Can we really justify this when there are plant sources that can provide us with sufficient protein? A good point to ponder. Excellent article, Pamela, that brings attention to the fact that animals have feelings and we must take this into account in our treatment of them! Thanks for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 14, 2020:

Hi Flourish,

I agree with you about cats. I have also had great experiences. I appreciate your comments, as always. Have a great week!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 14, 2020:

Hi Ron,

The advanced frontal lobe definitely makes a difference, even though elephants and whales have a larger brain. You comments are appreciated.

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 14, 2020:

I believe animals absolutely do have feelings. I've always had about 6-8 rescue cats at a time and therefore have been blessed with many of them over my life. They grieve when another is has died (or is clearly unwell, as I've had cats with cancer and other serious illnesses). They express concern when I am ill. They express remarkable levels of concern, get frustrated or jealous with one another, experience love, joy, anger, boredom, and happiness ... just like us.

Ron Hooft from Ottawa on December 14, 2020:

It has been shown by science, logic, and observation/study that some animals have the same emotions we do including empathy. The difference is degree.

The reason is actually simple. All mammals have the same brains we do. Ours has billions more neurons and an advanced frontal lobe, but the structure is the same. We all get fear, anger, aggression, etc, from the amygdala. Other parts process/produce other emotions.

Emotion is an auto responce. We don't choose to have them.

The cerebrum is divided in two halves. Right side controls the left side of the body. Left side controls the right. In 90 percent of people the right side is the subconscious, the left side is consciousness. Theses are the thinking parts of the brain, and they are often at odds.

But the differance is, our left side thinks in language. We have an inner dialouge of a sort other animals don't have. Try thinking without language. It's not easy and you can't get complicated.

With language made up of complex concepts we can explain emotions to ourselves. We can explain complex concepts to each other. With it we can accomplish almost anything. Without it, we'd still be in the stone age thinking at best like advanced apes. Emotion based only..

We are just animals like any other. But due to our advanced frontal lobe, billions more neurons, and advanced vocal chords, we developed complex language, which further developed a new use for the left side of the brain: inner dialouge; giving us the potential advantage of complex deliberation, logic, and understanding. (Right side for left handed people)

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 14, 2020:

Hi Peggy,

I agree, obviously! Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a good week, Peggy. week.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 14, 2020:

I am with you 100% on this one, Pamela. Animals definitely have feelings!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 14, 2020:

Hi Vidya,

I absolutely agree that we need to treat them very well. They do depend on us for food, etc. I love animals too. Thank you for your comments. I hope you have a very good week.

VIDYA D SAGAR on December 14, 2020:

Hi Pamela, a great article on an important subject. There is no doubt that animals have feelings. Our pet shows him emotions quite blatantly, be it anger, joy, or love. His remarkable intelligence continues to amaze me every day. There's a lot we can learn from animals. Their unconditional love, simple needs, loyalty, contented life set an example for us. We need to respect their feelings and treat them well.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 14, 2020:

Hi Chitrangada,

I have had some good experiences with birds also. I raised cockatiels for a few years. I am delighted you loved this article.

Thank you so much for your very nice comments. I hope you have a wonderful week.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 14, 2020:

Wonderful article, and I agree with you that the animals have feelings. There is no doubt about the dogs, cats, horses and so on. It’s amazing to see their responses, especially with their owners and their kids.

I can say the same for the birds too. Some birds visit me daily, as if they know that I love watching them early in the morning.

Lovely article, and so well written and researched. Loved the pictures too.

Thank you for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 14, 2020:

Hi Linda,

I absolutely agree with you. and that orca whale story sure makes a statement. I have had great experiences with different over the years.

I appreciate your comments. Have a fantastic week!

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on December 14, 2020:

Pamela, animals absolutely DO have feelings. They sense when we are unwell or sad. When our girl kitty died six years ago, the other kitty sniffed and hunted for her for weeks and finally, after a month of searching and not finding, he curled up in her bed and adopted it as his own. I assume it still held her scent and it comforted him. And, here in the Pacific NW there was famously an orca whale who carried her dead calf with her for 17 days. She was grieving the death of her baby and did not want to part with it.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 14, 2020:

Hi Rosina,

The zoos are great places to visit. Thank you for reading and commenting. Have a great week.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 14, 2020:

Hi Ankita,

Thank you so much for your nice comments. Have a wonderful week.

Rosina S Khan on December 14, 2020:

You did a great job, writing about animals, lightening up after authoring two serious articles. Although I am not an animal lover and do not like to have pets, I do love watching them in zoos, movies, cartoons and virtually online. Thank you, Pamela, for sharing such a marvelous article.

Ankita B on December 14, 2020:

Excellent article, Pamela. I do think all animals have emotions to some extent. A thought-provoking and interesting article. I loved the photos and the quotes too.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 14, 2020:

Hi Bill,

You have written enough about your dogs that I know that is true. I thought I should lightened up after two cancer articles, and I am an animal lover too.

I appreciate your comments, my friend. Have a wonderful week.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 14, 2020:

Hi Bill,

I absolutely agree. Elephants are one of our most amazing creatures. Of course, dogs are the best!

I appreciate your comments, Bill. Have a great week.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 14, 2020:

Hi Sp.

I think trust is very important. I fully agree with you. The therpy dogss are fantastic.

Thank you for your comments. Have a good week!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 14, 2020:

Hang around our dogs for a couple days and one would see the veracity of this article. Wonderful article for those of us who love animals/pets. Thanks for writing it, my friend, and Happy Monday!

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on December 14, 2020:

Hi Pam. I am also convinced that animals have feelings. Our shih tzu absolutely had feelings and expressed emotion. And I think it extends beyond domesticated animals as well. Look at how elephants grieve when they lose a family member. Great article.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on December 14, 2020:

Yes I do think animals have feelings. I think any animal is capable of showing feelings but the situation determines whether you see it or not. Once they trust you, they love you for life.

Tou see the animals that work as therapy animals, they are so gentle and trusting of those that they are assisting.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 14, 2020:

Hi Ann,

I decided I needed to write something more uplifting after my last two articles, and I am glad it worked for you.

I have a friend that has takes her dog into an area of the hospital (she's an RN). I don't know if she can still do that due to the virus, but the patient's loved it; Dogs are theraeutic for all of us in different ways.

I appreciate your comments, Ann. Have a wonderful week.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 14, 2020:

Hi Cheryl,

I agree! Thank you for reading and commenting. I hope you have a good week.

Ann Carr from SW England on December 14, 2020:

I am convinced that animals have feelings. They also sense danger and defend you (my two labrador-crosses proved that to me when someone came to the door. I didn't like him or trust him and nor did they; did they pick that up from me? Maybe but I think it was their instinct too.

Dogs are used in care homes here, as daily visitors, so that the residents can stroke them - therapeutic remedies or aids to help minimise loneliness and give joy to those with dementia.

This is a great hub, Pamela. You've cheered me up today and your photos are lovely!


Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on December 14, 2020:

What a beautiful story and it’s true

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 14, 2020:

Hi Manatita,

Plants would be another interesting topic to explore. I have a fern that I have taken care of for 22 years. I talk to it, and it is growing well.

I appreciate your comments. Have a wonderful week.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 14, 2020:

Hi John,

I think that is a good example. I think maybe all animals and birds have emotions.

Thanks so much for your comments. Have a great week, John.

manatita44 from london on December 14, 2020:

Yes Pamela, you're so right! Some dogs will give their life for you and their sense of devotion is amazing! I saw a cat protecting a dog once, by chasing after other dogs trying to harm it. Chimps, well, they're very advanced.

Why not plants too? Was it Birbeck and the Indian scientist Bose who did a lot of work in this area? We can all learn from animals. We came from them. Peace.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on December 14, 2020:

A good article, Pamela. I feel that many animals, if not all, have emotions. there is little doubt that dogs cats, elephants, apes, whales, and dolphins do for instance. But so do birds. Look how one of a pair frets if something happens to its mate for instance, or sometimes even a different species of animal it has grown up with.

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