Sunday 9 October 2011

Are cats self aware?

No, is my answer from experience of living with cats for a long time. You must have read about the mirror test. Certain animals, usually Primates, pass the test. The animal is marked with two odorless dye spots. One would be visible in a mirror. The other is not - a control. If the animal behaves in a way consistent with recognizing the spot that should be visible in the mirror while looking in the mirror, then he or she has self awareness. Cats have not passed this test.

I just don't think they are self aware from simple observation. This is not say that they deserve less respect or that they are not sentient beings (the ability to feel, perceive or be conscious).

I am not sure what it tells us about ourselves that we are self aware. Maybe it is worse for us. Maybe it achieves nothing and distorts behavior. Are cats self aware? No seems to be the conclusion.

Comment from VG a friend: "I certainly think Ms. Cat pays attention to what she does, and pays attention to my reactions.  So, that seems "self aware" on her part."

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