Judith Lautner (judith) wrote,
Judith Lautner
judith

Instincts

I used to swallow the explanations naturalists provided for the actions of animals. They'd say cats do everything by instinct, not by thinking. Cats are loners. They'd say birds make certain sounds to attract mates. They'd say animals aren't altruistic, don't have emotions. Cattle don't know they are going to die. I read a rather arduous explanation by Desmond Morris on why cats purr...

Yet another part of me had to be persuaded. These pronouncements ran against my own instincts. I decided that I must be wrong, then. But somewhere along the way I thought again.

When I listen to the birds outside I can't believe the sounds are all some kind of mating or newscast game. When I watch the way my cats respond to me, the way they follow me into my bedroom and leap on the bed so they can be close to me, I know it isn't simply because I feed them. It isn't even necessarily because I pet them. I won't go so far as to impose a human-like emotion on another animal but I don't believe that whatever feelings animals have are in any way inferior to ours.  And memories. There is a lot to suggest that many animals have histories in their families, that they learn of the past from others. Each generation does not start out a blank slate, impregnated with nothing but instinct.

I have come to trust my own instincts.
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