Tamara's Reviews > Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals

Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin
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Jul 03, 11

bookshelves: flipped-through, non-fiction
Read in June, 2011

I love that the focus of this book is about how to make animals in captivity (pets, zoo animals, livestock, etc.) happy. It's so hard to know what it means for an animal to be happy and Temple Grandin uses careful analysis and science to help unravel the mystery.

Knowing that animals need the freedom to express normal behavior and freedom from fear and distress to be happy, Grandin begins to define these things in layman's terms.

I mostly focused on the chapter about cats, because, um, you know.

The best insight that she described is something called SEEKING behavior. Animals (and humans) are happy when they are pursuing a goal, such as food or shelter. When providing hamsters with a cage with pre-built tunnels but no place to dig, they are unhappy because it is their instinct to build them. So you can give them tunnels, but they still want to dig the tunnels themselves. Very similar to "Life's a journey, not a destination." Animals need the journey to be happy.

There's also some great fodder in here for the cats versus dogs debate. Grandin makes a clear case that neither is better or worse, just different.

Favorite Quotes/Facts/Sections:

All animals and people have the same core emotion systems in the brain.

[C]ats are not solitary, self-sufficient loners the way a lot of people think. Cats have social needs...[C]ats and humans had a mutualistic relationship instead of the more symbiotic relationship humans and dogs had during domestication...With people and cats, it was more of a relationship of convenience. Cats killed mice and rats, and humans provided lots of mice and rats to kill...

Cats seem autistic because they don't come across as being sociable or eager to please like dogs, and also because their faces are kind of blank.

Cats knead people with their paws to leave their scent.

All animals intensely dislike slippery or unsure footing. Any unstable flooring will frighten an animal.

Cats are hard to read" section (Beginning on p72)
Preventing Fear at the Vet's Office (p78-79)
Elimination Disorders (p80-81)
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message 1: by Becky (new)

Becky Seeking behavior is really interesting. I will have to think about this some more.


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