Does the cat torture the mouse?
It seems to depend on how we think of animal consciousness. The arguments tend to go:
1) No. Animals are essentially motiveless, and their intentionality is not such that we can say that they do anything but run an instinct-program that manifests itself to the cat as fulfillment of a pleasure-pain opposition. The people who believe this would say that the cat is ‘torturing’ the mouse because it pleases the cat, and it pleases the cat because it’s important to the cat’s survival that it practice its hunting skills, or is important to its kittens that it keep the mouse alive that they might practice their hunting skills.
2) Yes. Animals have a certain level of psychological complexity, and they are intentional in a way that is similar to human intentionality. They have motives, and make plans, and engage in something similar to human decision-making, just on a lower level. The pleasure-pain opposition they experience is founded on more than mere instinct, and reflects their conscious moods and decisions. People who believe this would say that the cat is torturing (sans quote marks because this conforms to the human definition of torture) the mouse because it pleases the cat, period.
That was just to get the juices flowing – what do you think?