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Do your animals know when you are in pain?





Wolf1918
A little over a year ago my wife died after a very long illness. The other day, I was reading a novel where one of the characters was dying and it told of the pain her husband endured watching it happen and not being able to do anything about it.

I had to put the book down and I started to cry. After just a few minutes my cat came to me, rubbing his head on my hands to get me to pet him. Which I did. Now, just the night before I had to hold him down and give him a flea treatment. He totally hates that. Up until I started to cry, he was still mad at me and wouldn't come near me.

I petted him but still continued to cry. Then he did something he had never done before. He climbed up onto my lap (he is not a lap cat and hates to be held), stretched up with his paws on my chest, and he rubbed his head on my cheeks, literally drying my tears with his fur.

He stayed close by me all that night, curled up tight against my body. He's my little angel cat. His name is Merlin, and he was a rescue. Found at 2 just weeks old, his eyes not even open yet, and bottle feed.

Chad
deanhills
I do not have pets right now as I am working on contract in the Middle East and this is not really the right environment for pets as well, but I completely agree. As a child I used to have a dog and whenever there was some major upset that had me upside down, it just knew it right away. Would do the exact same thing. Nuzzle up. Amazing dog. This one particularly was out of the ordinary. She had been an oops, a scandal, as this one lady was breeding pedigree keeshond (see picture below of the keeshond) and by accident when her female keeshond was in heat, she got into the streets (a small town) and fell in love with a thorough breed miniature collie. The combination with the miniature collie was pretty amazing as the nature of the collie dominated with the beauty of the physique of the keeshond dominating and then a slightly longer nose as in the collie and reddish brown coat keeshond style, the best of both. But the breeder was just too keen to get rid of the resulting litter so gave them away for free, and we lucked out as it was probably the most beautiful dog with the most amazing caring character ever. Smile

mk12327
I remember reading somewhere before regarding animals' innate ability to understand "non-verbal" language. Unlike most humans who can understand the verbal language (taking what people say literally), animals are more observant to detect other things like tone, facial expression, and gestures. Through these "non-verbal" signs, in a way they are able to understand our emotions. Its just like when you call out to your dog/cat for an exercise compared to scolding it for something it did wrong. The tone and facial expression simply tells them its positive or negative and they'll react accordingly. (Eg. run towards you in excitement for exercise and hiding under the bed when you scolds it)
DizzyDesign
We all want to believe our pet is as smart as it seems, and every now and then a dog or cat does something astonishing. In 2003 in Kentucky, a dog named Scooby limped to a vet’s office after being hit by a car. A year later in Richland, Wash., a rottweiler named Faith hit 911 on the speed dial with its nose and barked into the phone after its owner fell out of her wheelchair.

Are these slam-dunk cases of animal intelligence? The answer used to be a definitive “no,” but now we can say “maybe.”

Scientists are seeing evidence of higher mental abilities in a wider range of animals than previously imagined. They’ve also observed unexpected traits and skills, like empathy and the ability to fashion weapons.

Empathy being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes—is important because it is the basis of morality. But empathy is very difficult to prove. Actions don’t always imply intent. Thus, skeptics have tended to dismiss accounts of chimps helping other chimps, dolphins saving drowning people and elephants supporting their injured herd mates. In lab experiments, rats have been shown to refuse food if their eating causes suffering for other rats.
ocalhoun
mk12327 wrote:
I remember reading somewhere before regarding animals' innate ability to understand "non-verbal" language. Unlike most humans who can understand the verbal language (taking what people say literally), animals are more observant to detect other things like tone, facial expression, and gestures. Through these "non-verbal" signs, in a way they are able to understand our emotions. Its just like when you call out to your dog/cat for an exercise compared to scolding it for something it did wrong. The tone and facial expression simply tells them its positive or negative and they'll react accordingly. (Eg. run towards you in excitement for exercise and hiding under the bed when you scolds it)


Many animals are far better at this than most humans. Despite the species barrier, they can be amazingly astute about what is going on in your head.
WhistleTurning
I am sure most animals of the cat and dog families can detect stress in some one as they seem to detect fear. I suppose living in the wild to be able to detect stress could lead them to an easy meal. In pets this seems to be transferred into trying to comfort the "pack leader" i.e. the owner.
deanhills
I think when there is a bond between any of the species then usually both are more intuitive about the the other, but particulary on the animal side as they act more on their instincts than human beings do and are perhaps more focussed on us than the other way round.
Coen
I don't really know if animals can actually sense or understand that you are having pain. I do think, however, that they have the ability to sense how you feel and they sense you're not feeling well.
deanhills
Coen wrote:
I don't really know if animals can actually sense or understand that you are having pain. I do think, however, that they have the ability to sense how you feel and they sense you're not feeling well.


Good point. It is possibly more a sensing than a feeling thing. However, I do think some animals are more in tune with human beings than other animals are, bordering on feelings. I.e. a dog vs. a cat. Talk loud to a dog and the tail goes down, everything droops. A cat on the other hand reacts completely differently. A dolphin vs. shark. Dolphins are brilliant, perhaps even brighter than human beings, and more finely attuned to human beings than other sea mammals. Question
Cddhesh
From my experience i can definetly tell that Dogs understand situation. I know a family where i had gone one day and their dog was very naughty, later in the evening a sad incident took place, one family member met with accident and was hospitalized, He just saved, Because of the news everyone got shocked, and i realized after some time that the dog is quietly sitting in his place,which he never used to.
Zachk
Yes I pretty much know when my dog is pain. I've had him for about 5 years and and love him to death. He is a white Jack Russel Terrior with a brown ear and brown tail, and his name is Chester Smile.
Kelvin
I do believe animals have the ability to sense or feel the pain felt by us humans. Not only pain, they are also able to sense other emotions like anger and fear. My pet dog knows how to feel anxious when one of us feels sad or cries. She would come close and look at you, and then poke her nose on your body trying to tell you not to feel sad or something.
throughthefire
My animals definitely know when I am in pain. I have a disorder that causes extreme pain, mainly in my legs and even if I'm not crying out in pain, they come lay with me and avoid my legs, i.e instead of walking across them like normal, they'll go around or stay completely away on the worse days. When I'm depressed they quietly lay their head on my shoulder or let me hold them (that goes for the ones who normally don't like to be held so much.) I spend practically 24 hours a day with my animals and we're all extremely close and in tune with whats going on with each other. Even my pets like turtles/iguana/tree frog/chicken that people don't normally think of as having feelings or being connected with people, like they do with cats or dogs.
Jemstone
I would have to say that my cat is my best friend. Her name is Kitty; it took us awhile to fully adopt her as our own, and eventually she learned the name 'Kitty' and it stuck. She's a turtle-something or other, but really just looks like a little grey furball with a racoon tail. I've had her for about four years now, and she's always right beside me whenever I am home. I remember once after a messy separation I was crying and my kitty came up, laid on my chest and looked up at me. That alone helped the tears slow, but then she put her paw on my cheek and practically wiped away my tears. Whenever I cry, she's right there to nuzzle my chin or offer a paw. Also, whenever someone is yelling at me, she takes a firm stand right in front of the person and meows her loudest until they stop, then comes and nuzzles me. You know, reassuring me that she's stopped the yelling and making sure that I am okay. She's such a great friend.
user2
Would do the exact same thing. Nuzzle up. Amazing dog. This one particularly was out of the ordinary. She had been an oops, a scandal, as this one lady was breeding pedigree keeshond (see picture below of the keeshond) and by accident when her female keeshond was in heat, she got into the streets (a small town) and fell in love with a thorough breed miniature collie.
jwellsy
Of course they know when their pack leader is hurting.
BuLLetss
My dog does Smile
cutesyedwin
i strongly believe that animals know when you are in pain... maybe they can 'sense' that your brainwaves are not as active as usual, or that like when animals can 'sense' yoiur fear, they can also sense your pain, and when you're in trouble or feel down and stuff.
Aeonxxx
Years ago -- say in the sixties and seventies -- students were still taught in public schools that what distinguished man from animal was 1. opposable thumb, 2. language, 3. making/using tools, and 4. consciousness. Even then Jane Goodall had observed chimpanzees using tools (sticks to get ants & termites out of holes). Now we know that several animals use tools -- including a species of bird, if I remember correctly.

A few years ago (six or seven) I read a book written by a researcher on animal consciousness and on autism (it was the first mention of Asperger's syndrome that I ran across). One aspect of consciousness discussed was which animals can recognize their reflection in water or mirror, and know it is "themselves". (anesthasize an ape as part of routine/scheduled operation, paint a dot on forehead, then as the ape wakes let them see their reflection. They will immediately wipe the dot off their forehead, though it is visible only in mirror -- they realize the image in the mirror is in fact themselves). Another aspect was in imagining / understanding what another monkey "knows", indicating an ability to understand other individual consciousnesses, and to imaginatively / empathically understand a situation from the other perspective. The experiment was allowing a monkey to see (in a mirror) a researcher approaching another cage, holding a needle, to give a painful shot to the other monkey -- a researcher coming from a direction that the 'threatened monkey' could not see. In these experiments different monkeys were able every time to recognize the threat, realize that the first animal couldn't see the threat, and gave warning screeches.

As for language, need I mention Koko ?

levels of consciousness vary across the animal kingdom, but anyone asking these days if animals can feel pain is at least half a century behind the science. The question these days is how much abstract thinking, intlligence, and / or consciousness they have. Strict behaviorists may still deny that emotions and feelings exist (including pain) -- but any behaviorist this 'fundamentalist' (if any such actually still exist) are in the same league as flat earthers, solipsists, and creationists. Even whatsisname, B.F. Skinner, didn't say this, if I understand rightly -- he just said that emotions etc. were not necessary to consider, that psychology would make more progress sticking to observable/measurable behavior, and emotions couldn't be measured. (Though nowadays they increasingly can be, through brainscans and the like. At least, in humans).

I must say, I would wonder at the motive of any scientist who would speculate about animals (above, say the level of lobsters) being unable to "suffer". Their are many observable, measurable signs of suffering in animals (whimpering, yowling, favoring injured limbs, fear of being apporiached by those normally trusted), and many logical, behaviorist reasons for animals to be able to suffer (to change behavior to allow recovery, to elicit help from other animals, to cause avoidance of threats/enemies/rivals) -- so who are these scientists that doubt suffering ? Do they lack the same empathy for other humans, as well as for animals ? Are they so overconfident of their understanding of brain function so that they merely ignore all contradictory evidence and say, a priori, that it must be so ? Or do these scientists really even exist at all ?
PennyLane
When I'm stressed or really tired or if I feel hurt, my cat always comes sitting next to me. Then she first gently bites in my arm to see if I react or not, and if I don't react she just sits next to me whole the time. Even if I move a little, she is always there, in some way to protect me I think... But if I do react she just sits next to me like 5 minutes, and then she goes sitting somewhere else...
ZzZ_AluCarD_ZzZ
It's not a problem for my cat if I am bad or not, as long as I give him food! Lazy pet!
fpwebs
yes i believe they do because whenever i am sick my dog wont let me leave his sight. he becomes very loving and charismatic. Also, when i had my surgery he was licking me 24/7 to make sure that i was okay. I also heard a story about a dog that correctly identified breast cancer.
joomla
my labrador always knows. he comes and gives me a special hug to show !
dbershevits
I didn't know that. I guess thats my dog always wants to lick my face and give me hugs Smile
Idoru
Currently living with eight cats and a few rabbits, so they are occupied with each other most of the
time. They all have their moments for personal time with us humans, though, and those moments
tend to come more often in cases of sadness and also illness.
I'd say that they defenitlly read the body-language, pick up the signals, or simply sence it.
One of the reasons to have pets, actually, they get awfully close to you if you let them. Smile
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