General Question

flo's avatar

Regarding animals, is it running away or exercising their freedom to leave anytime?

Asked by flo (12901points) May 14th, 2019

Some animal lovers feed/pamper stray cats, squirrels and other animals, hoping they’ll stay. If they don’t stay, when is it called exercising their freedom and when is it running away?

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27 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

No, Animals do not have the concept of freedom – it is an abstract concept contrasted to captivity, and it is a human thought.

They run away because that is their instinct and evolutionary role.

Patty_Melt's avatar

I think it is always exercising their freedom.
In your details you only mention strays, but in your topics you include SPCA. animals are not adopted out by shelters if they are feral. Only animals deemed fit to be pets are homed out, and you can’t call them strays at that point, because they are tame, and usually trained to certain behavioral expectations.
Once adopted you hope and expect your pet to show loyalty and stick around.
Given the opportunity, however, most will run off. Barring incident, most willingly return.
When I was a teen, we had a dog which liked to run. My younger brother would take him along without leash when bike riding. Mostly the dog stayed right with him, but often brother came home alone. Mostly dog would show up later.
After his first time being picked up, he would turn himself in, sleeping on the step at the shelter, and greeting them when they got there. They would feed him, and play with Rascal while they waited for mom to come pick him up. It was a great bunch who worked there, so he loved the visits.
Running off isn’t personal attitude about their owners. They just need their own agenda at times.

flo's avatar

@Patty_Melt By the way, I included SPCA because they have the expertise in animals in general, and maybe one of them could come across the OP. I don’t know this site but anyway:

flo's avatar

@elbanditoroso Is it not a lot of our insticts that keeps all animals (including humans), alive and thriving?

kritiper's avatar

They have no conscience thought to decide either way. Fear drives them off.

Yellowdog's avatar

I can’t say any more than what has already been contributed. But dogs have a sense of belonging to a family, and most domesticated animals and birds have a sense of home and relations to humans. Dogs can do well if left to roam, but laws often don’t allow it, and they usually will return to their pack / family.

Less sentient birds and most wild animals never have a sense of belonging to a human family.

Cats are more of an enigma. They may like SOME people, and they like their favorite places. But they are really more independent, solitary animals—seldom even desiring the company of another cat, unless there is gradual bonding and trust.

flo's avatar

@kritiper Fear is a necessary instinct. You want your kids to be afraid of a gizziolion things including hot stove, wild animals that could kill/ injure them.
Conscience thought is not necessarily beneficial at all times. Conscience thought led to Hitler.

flo's avatar

@Yellowdog But if they keep running away…

kritiper's avatar

@flo ...uh…we were discussing animals and THEIR lack of a conscience…

flo's avatar

@kritiper Me too. The point is that it’s a good thing that they don’t have conscious (I also made the spelling error above) thought at times. If they had conscious thought all life would disappear I’m guessing.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Freedom. We only protect them from other humans basically. Food and couches keep them tame.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@flo “But if they keep running away…”

They aren’t running away. Dogs, by nature, love to run. So run they will, if given the chance. Cats, by nature, love to roam and explore. So roam and explore they will, if given the chance. They will, however, always return home unless circumstance prevents them.

Zaku's avatar

“Some animal lovers feed/pamper stray cats, squirrels and other animals, hoping they’ll stay. If they don’t stay, when is it called exercising their freedom and when is it running away?”
– It’s whatever it is in each case for each species and individual in each situation, which is probably a little of both and a lot of neither.

Humans do not have the full experience nor understanding of what it is like to be another individual (even another human), and certainly not another species. So we theorize and project (and defend our ego-identities by clinging to the convenient egocentric soothing notions that they have little or nor consciousness, sentience, emotions, feelings, thoughts and/or souls).

And you ask “when is it called” one thing or another, and that also varies by who you’re talking about doing the callingm and what each human’s ideas are about the words they use.

In my case, I would say that “exercising their freedom” is a different and overlapping human concept from the somewhat-more-animal concept of “running away”.

To me, “exercising their freedom” is a weird thing to say about the context of feeding an animal and hoping it will stay. It seems to me it masks an unspoken/unexamined hope that they will become not “free” to leave at some point.

Some people might rather put it as hoping they will choose to prefer to stay, and choosing not to, or them not feeling comfortable staying, rather than about freedom.

To me, “running away” also seems loaded. Animals often correctly sense and/or apprehend that unknown people (or even the humans they live with) may act to capture and confine them and do unknown things to them against their will. A nearly-universal strategy of nearly all animals including humans is moving away from such people. The expression “running away” is a somewhat subtly more developed human idea, it seems to me.

flo's avatar

@KNOWITALL Yes. But would you elaborate “We only protect them from other humans basically”?
@Darth_Algar But they aren’t running away” That’s what I was asking @Yellowdog with the dot dot dot (how he would finish that half statement)
Re. “They will, however, always return home unless circumstance prevents them.” But this is about stray ones so there is no home if they keep “running away” (I didn’t have the quotation marks in my last post.)
@Zaku I think I have to spend a ton of time to read all that.

flo's avatar

@Zaku Maybe you saying they can’t think/analyse like humans can, and that that they just do what comes to them instictively.

Zaku's avatar

@flo Seems to me that fairly and objectively speaking, humans also can’t think like animals any better than animals can think like humans.

And I’d say it’s demonstrably false (at least, to people who observe and have empathy for animals), that animals “just do what comes to them instinctively”. Personality and individual preference are not instincts, and the animals I know regularly demonstrate those non-instinctive behaviours in simple observable ways practically all day long.

flo's avatar

@Zaku I was asking you whay your last post said in one or 2 sentences.

flo's avatar

@Zaku Bring back circuses with animals, and so on? No need for frreedom for animals?

jca2's avatar

I know with stray cats, if you feed them, they will generally keep coming looking for food. They will tell other cats (using their cat language haha) and soon you will have many cats looking for food. Some will disappear, presumably because they traveled elsewhere looking for a mate, and maybe some danger will have befallen them, like they got hit by a car or something.

I think with other animals, they may come when there’s food offered but they may be more likely to roam and may not want to be around humans and houses.

Zaku's avatar

@flo “Bring back circuses with animals, and so on? No need for frreedom for animals?”
What? No.

flo's avatar

@jca2 But if they don’t want to stay for good, should they be forced to stay?
@Zaku Is that it? “What? No.” I’m looking at your last post.

Zaku's avatar

@flo I have no idea why you would respond to what I wrote in my last post with questions suggesting the opposite of my opinions about circuses and animal freedoms. I’ll try making simple re-statements of my views and also respond to your questions:

1) You wrote: “Maybe you saying they can’t think/analyse like humans can…” – my feeling is that while animals don’t think quite like humans, humans also don’t think quite like animals, nor do we fully understand how animals think. I don’t think human thinking is objectively superior to animal thinking, except at doing human kinds of thinking.

2) You wrote: ”... and that that they just do what comes to them instictively.” – to which I would say no, that’s not correct. Animals regularly demonstrate many non-instinctive behaviors, learn things, reason, communicate, show personality differences between individuals, demonstrate emotions and preferences, etc.

3) You wrote “Bring back circuses with animals, and so on?” and I have no idea why you would reply to what I wrote with that. To answer plainly, no, I think that animals deserve respect and good treatment that was often lacking in many circuses (though there might be some cases where some animals might not mind, and be treated well).

4) You wrote “No need for frreedom for animals?” and again I have no idea why you would reply that to what I wrote. To plainly answer that part, I would say quite the opposite. I consider animals to be people and deserving of good treatment and respect. For wild animals, I think they deserve to be given enough wild habitat and healthy ecosystems to be able to maintain healthy populations and be given freedom and safety from attack by us, except as may seem scientifically necessary to prevent major problems, such as overpopulation or plagues, or extinction of other species. I think we should respect them enough as fellow creatures that that should be our natural way of relating to them.

(I also think that even from a purely selfish human-centric perspective, intelligent informed humans would also strive to protect all wild ecosystems and non-human species and their well-being, in order to avoid extinctions and the destruction of the ecosystems that ultimately keep this planet habitable for us as well as them.)

flo's avatar

Edited for typo.
@Zaku Re. @flo I have no idea why you would respond to what I wrote in my last post with questions suggesting the opposite of my opinions about circuses and animal freedoms”
” My mother walks home as I’m feeding stray cats in our neighborhood outside” in the title and detail it says “my cat”, but it’s a stray cat.
In one of your responses’ last paragraph:

And IIRC, your cat just likes to go out and will be almost surely be back, like last time.” It’s a stray cat.
You can go to that post and tell @dopguru to save him/herself from a heart attack, if h/she hasn’t realized it already.

flo's avatar

…By the way, the reason I brought up circuses is because whether it’s stray animals or animals in circuses, it’s about the same thing, animal freedom.

Zaku's avatar

@flo I’m having a very hard time following what you mean in any of these previous two posts from you on this thread.

* I don’t understand why you are referencing dopeguru’s cat question. Or what you mean about saving dopeguru a heart attack. It seems you are trying to make some sort of point about animal freedom in that case? I remembered when I wrote that line to dopeguru that she had said the cat used to be stray, but that it had been living in the house for a while, and that although it had got out before and was away for a few days, it came back. I have known quite a few people who have adopted stray cats that way, and while the cats want to stay out sometimes, and sometimes choose to go away for good, the ones I’ve known have also mostly accepted their new homes and voluntarily returned to them. I didn’t get the impression from dopeguru’s description that that cat was still a stray. And, I’m just guessing here what you’re getting at, so I’ll stop.

flo's avatar

I just like to answer questions in one or 2 lines whenever I can.

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