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Cat Mourns Dead Friend?

I know all the stereotypes about the heartless cat, and luckily this video seems to dispel them all.  The two cats had been seen together prior to the one being hit by the car.. the other cat was acting extremely aggressive towards anyone who approached the body post the accident.  This is an example of animal mourning, correct?

Not so fast.

Trotting out this video as an example of higher cognition in animals (i.e. the recognition of loss, of death, the example of grief) is a mistake.  Similarly, throwing this video out there and then stating that we humans should learn from this video about how to better our own species.. since we walk right on by past victims of crimes… is also a mistake.

Anyone who owns a cat will take one look at that and recognize the fact that the animal isn’t mourning.  For all intents and purposes, if you strip the video of the context (the two cats were friends, the one cat witnessed the other hit by the car…) it looks like the one cat is trying to mate with the other.  The kneading, the hip movements, the arching of the back, the biting of the neck.. that isn’t an attempt to revive the other animal, it’s a territorial need for reproduction.  No wonder the cat was aggresive towards everyone that tried to intervene.

There are plenty of good examples of animal compassion out there.  While the good examples may not be as emotionally compelling as the idea that one cat is trying to revive the other (as an aside, where did the cat learn CPR?) they are still touching and far more interesting.

Animals are not humans – and it is wrong to treat them as if they were.  While they should be treated with respect and not abused, while they should be admired for what traits they do have that are better than our own it is wrong to outright assume that they always take the moral high ground.  This is not an example of animal compassion, and quite frankly I’d be rather disturbed if someone walked away from this video feeling as if that cat was “doing the right thing.”

To be perfectly honest my first thought while viewing it was wondering whether or not if a vet got there sooner the other cat could have been saved.  It may have been the white cat’s little ‘display’ for the two hours that cost the black cat its life in the long-run.

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Dead Dog Blues?

Suicide Bridge

The Overtoun Bridge

The Overtoun Bridge, located in Scotland, is a spot of intrigue and mystery to many.  It was built in 1892, and though it is a beautiful piece of architecture the reason it is primarily so well known now is due to the high number of suicides that jump off the bridge each year.  Many bridges can boast a high suicide rate, though… what makes this one different is that it isn’t humans taking the leap – it’s dogs.

Some papers have reported a little over 50 dogs having taken the leap in a single year, most report more.  The only consensus is that all of the breeds are long-nosed breeds.  If the lack of intent is questioned, there are accounts of dogs leaping off of this bridge to the rocks below and surviving – only to run back up to the bridge and make the leap again.  To make matters stranger, the jumps are all made from almost the identical spot.  Why would these dogs do this?  Different reasons have been given.

To get the strangest one out of the way first, it has been proposed as a psychic hot spot.. some evil force is compelling the dogs to jump.  Psychics have been brought in and reported no ill-findings, though.  Given, they did keep their dogs leashed and the dogs that leapt were under no such safety measure.   Even leashed dogs, though, have tugged at this spot.. that indicates something different going on, and something with a far more natural explanation.

The best explanation that I have heard is that there is an abundance of mink in the area.  The breeds being long-nosed would indicate a specialty in olfaction, so they would have a higher probability to pick up the strong scent.  Dogs lack the same sophisticated depth perception that we have, so perhaps they are making the leap thinking that they are just jumping across a small expanse to something more level?  When viewed from a lower center the bridge does look just like a normal garden path.

Although the explanation is not perfect it is the most logical I have read.  Anyone have any other ideas of how to explain this strange phenomenon?