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Can animals show altruism

You look at your pet and wonder: Can animals be selfless? What is altruism in animal behavior, and how common in altruism in animals?

Some people believe showing unselfish concern toward others’ welfare is something only humans are capable of, that it’s part of our social behavior. However, animals can be altruistic and compassionate, too, sometimes more so than humans.

I used to feed feral cats in my parents’ yard. They had about ten cats, and there was a blind kitten. The other cats would lick their bowl clean, except when the kitten was around. Then they’d leave a little food on their bowl and move aside whenever it started toward the food bowl.

A black cat had taken a piece of chicken once and took it to the blind kitten. She chewed a bit on the way, though. Another cat had looked at the food the kitten was eating like she really wanted it, but she didn’t take it, although it was a sacrifice for her. These cats were always hungry. There wasn’t enough food for all of them.

Animals from all species show altruism. It’s an evolutionary trait that had enabled animal mothers to care for their young. Animals don’t plan on getting pregnant. They don’t expect their cubs to make them happy or fill their lives. They care for their babies because the babies can’t fend for themselves. This kind of animal altruism is what causes animals to adopt cubs of other species.

I met a lady in a pet store who told me her little dog would cry whenever seeing a wounded feral cat or bird, and wouldn’t stop crying until her owner took the creature home to care for.

I had a huge cat, Angel, who always let the smaller cat, Milky, eat first. Once, Milky had twisted her back leg, and she’d let out a bloodcurdling scream. Angel ran toward her and sniffed her nose, showing concern.

The animals’ ability to love their young transforms into an ability to love their human family, and sometimes other pets they’d grown up with. And animals are also social creatures, although their methods of socializing and communicating are different than ours.

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6 thoughts on “Can animals show altruism

  1. My sister always said that her cat Thomas was always especially attentive to our mother during her last days. He was not mother’s cat, but they had that relationship with the Beanie Babies, you know. When mother got gravely ill, he would stay with her on the bed and her hand would unconsciously stroke him. The moment she died, he got up and walked off as if his job was done. I’m sure, if the hospital would let him be by my sister’s side right now, we would see the same thing transpiring. I know she would love to have him by her side right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is so sad. I hope your sister will get better.

      Angel, the cat I used to have, sat on my pillow when I had the flu, and he looked at me with a fatherly look. A look that said, “Rest. You need your sleep.” And he didn’t wake me up, which he always did when I was sleeping. Normally, I’d have to close my bedroom door, or I wouldn’t get any sleep at all. He’d knock things off the nightstand and scream and jump on and off the bed. Once he even pulled off my heavy blanket during a cold January night, 3am. But because he sensed I was sick and exhausted, he was quiet as a mouse.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I believe they know. Chloe used to pull the covers off and stand on me so I’d get up to feed her or if I’d been sleeping in too long, but not so if I was sick. They do know.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it is fascinating that they now allow pets in some nursing homes to visit the patients. They cheer them up and they can be a big help in giving them a reason to keep on living. I realize it would be hard for this to take place in a hospital because of the number of patients and because of any germs they might bring in, but I would imagine that there are at least some hospitalized people who would benefit greatly by seeing either their own pet if they have one, or someone else’s loving pet.

    Liked by 2 people

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