People who refer to animals as dumb reveal more about themselves than the animals. By categorizing life as dumb, stupid, ignorant, somehow the categorizer feels relieved of any responsibility toward that animal and therefore, justified in ignoring, rejecting, even hurting the animal. It never occurred to these same people there may be a deficit in them for their inability to perceive the intelligence and sensitivity in animals.
The reality is all creatures large and small have a nervous system that is a highly calibrated piece of engineering to serve the animal’s ability to survive. Animals feel physical pain if you hurt them and psychological pain if you deprive them of love and attention. Those emotions play a critical role in their ability to stay alive.
When a person chooses to get rid of a dog or a cat without considering the fact they’ve been living with this animal for one year, five years, 10 years, the dog or cat suffers. They go into a state of shock psychologically. As part of their consciousness or awareness, their emotions run the gamut from hurt, anger, confusion, depression and grief. They thought they had a relationship, they trusted their companion person and now suddenly, they are being shoved into a carrier and transported miles from their “home” to a stranger or much worse, a shelter.
What about semi-wild, feral cats that spit and hiss at you? What about their awareness, their sensitivity, their ability to feel? Cats that live outdoors without the protections and creature comforts of indoor cats are on high alert. That means their intelligence, their sensitivity meter is amped up – it has to be in order to survive the multitude of hostilities of outdoor life. But rather than applaud these animals for being shrewd, feral cats are demonized as “dangerous,” “disease-carrying,” “vermin” (none of which is true). Once again the misnomer labels serve the categorizer in dismissing these animals. Once again, the categorizer self-justifies ignoring, rejecting, even hurting these noble animals.
It’s a rare person who engages in “trading places” with a defensive, semi-hostile animal. But, put yourself in the psyche of a feral cat—walk a mile in her paws—and see what it feels like to not be able to rely on anyone except yourself. It can be frightening when you are forced to live by your wits, trusting no animal larger than yourself, especially two-legged people. If indeed you can step into that animal’s perspective, you will be humbled by their intelligence and awareness — you can only applaud their endurance in staying alive.
It doesn’t matter if the animal lives inside or outdoors. An animal feels deeply regardless of whether or not people are dumb or smart enough to understand their emotions as a significant part of an intelligence that furthers living.