Cats fascinate me. They sleep in awkward positions, stare at open doors at length, and are experts at training humans to bring them food and clean up after them. When I look into their eyes, I often wonder what cat thoughts they’re thinking. Are these cat thoughts any different than my human thoughts?
I think it’s probably yes and no.
Cats definitely have consciousness and can communicate their needs and desires to people. Actually, I’m not sure that they would distinguish a difference between needs and desires. That’s totally a human thing!
My theory is that while cats do have thoughts, their thoughts are not driven by ulterior motives or objectives. Yes, cats do express feelings like happiness, anger, jealousy, frustration, etc. However, that’s all there is. If a cat is angry, it’s angry. Cats don’t hold grudges against you for throwing out its favorite catnip toy 2 years ago, or ask you to feed it when it’s not hungry just to interrupt your Netflix marathon. When fluffy says “meow” in the morning, it wants food!
While there are some who might interpret this type of consciousness as part of a hierarchy (i.e. humans have a “higher level” of consciousness than animals), I think there’s a lot I can learn from cats. Perhaps my unique ability to experience life at a “higher level” of consciousness is also to my weakness.
My mind spends a lot of energy struggling to judge what’s right and wrong, and sometimes that keeps me from experiencing the world. Why I am so concerned with finding a job with “meaning”? Why do I spend so much time worrying about the future?
Cats live in the here and now. They enjoy each moment in the moment, not before or after. That seems pretty intellectual to me.