She was so little that she couldn’t yet meow, eat, or even wee alone. We fed her with a small bottle every few hours (imitating her mother’s teats), wiped her tiny furry bottom to help her urinate (a mother cat would use her tongue) and gave her a warm, soft place to sleep and grow. We named her Rosie and she followed us everywhere, watching our every move and learning about life. Rosie learnt that the sound of the fridge opening indicated dinner time; the creak of the front gate, a potential new play-mate and; quickly understood to avoid our dog when she had a bone.
Rosie was our first cat and we were amazed by how she could talk to us in her own language; with chirrups, purrs, growls, hisses, and meows. Her body language also told us what she was feeling: a flick of a tail or flattening ears spelled trouble and a likely bite (we called her ninja kitten); dilated pupils signaled an intention to play and; when her lids half closed over her gorgeous green eyes, we knew we would be honoured with a sweet cuddle.
Many of us know the pleasures of caring for our pets; especially dogs and cats. In fact, Australian’s own more companion animals, 8 million in total, than most other countries in the world. We experience just how smart, sensitive and communicative they are and how much they need the guidance of a loving guardian.
But what about other animals, like the ones that grow up, not snuggled in our cosy beds, but living in fields, barns or cages? They are also sentient.
Sentience is an important word to know. It is defined as “A being who has interests…who prefers, desires, or wants.” These animals avoid suffering and seek positive experiences just as humans do. Not only that, but they too communicate with, care for and teach their young the ways of the world.
Did you know that mother pigs sing to her piglets whilst feeding them? It helps them relax. And she builds them a nest made of grass and straw? That keeps them warm and safe. Pigs say ‘hi’ to each other by touching noses and grunting. And they are even smarter than dogs.
In factory farms, where piglets are denied the love and care of their mothers or even a human surrogate, like what Jasmine and I became for Rosie, it causes them to suffer. Just as it would a human baby, puppy or kitten.
Although animals can talk with a myriad of different sounds and gestures, many of us humans don’t learn their language or just don’t want to hear.
Together, we humans have to learn to listen, and become their voice, loud and clear.
Will you help be a voice for animals?
Ondine Sherman is happy to hear from you with ideas for blogs, or your thoughts and concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Take care – of all animals! The Cool To Be Kind to Animals team