Can a Cat Have an Existential Crisis?

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Can a Cat Have an Existential Crisis?

Britt Peterson


Quote:Treating my cat for depression caused me to question the state of anxiety in animals and us.



Quote:In fact, the concept of animal anxiety is something science has been wrestling with for a long time. And while our definition of anxiety, when it comes to animals, may still be fuzzy, it is growing ever sharper with time. That process has taught us much about our own emotions, and continues to teach us more about animal cognition. In the end, it also taught me a lot about my relationship with Lucas.



Quote:In her book, Animal Madness, science historian Laurel Braitman cites a study by the pharmaceutical giant, Eli Lilly and Company, that states that 17 percent of American dogs suffer from separation anxiety. Braitman also describes anxious zoo gorillas and a bonobo who wouldn’t eat a meal until he went through a series of obsessive compulsive disorder-like rituals, anxious chickens given Prozac to calm down so their flesh will be more delicious, and the “stereotypic” (repeated self-harming) and aggressive behavior of walruses and sea lions at amusement parks like SeaWorld.



Quote:For me, labeling Lucas as anxious changed everything in how I thought of his behavior. I had seen him as an adversary: robbing my sleep, peeing on my kid’s rug, bullying me and my family and my other cat. Now he was a fellow sufferer. Some might argue that I am anthropomorphizing, but the result has been positive for everyone. As I became more sensitive to Lucas’s neuroses, I began to notice my role in them.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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