Anxiety in animals

I’ve been delivering mail for almost seven years at this point. Whenever summer comes around there’s always lots of insects. Little flies and other critters will land on my bike. There’s a large basket-like thing on the front of it that holds my parcels. It’s super convenient and also bright orange. I presume insects might think it’s a weird flower or something. Either way, they will often land on it and then stay there for a while. I once had a whole bunch of flies stay on it for several different blocks before flying away again. This got me thinking, how do these small animals process this experience? Do they realize they’ve moved? If they do realize they’ve moved, do they then also realize what exactly happened to them and how to get back? If I were sitting on a bench somewhere and suddenly moved several villages over I’d be very worried. I’m anxiety prone on the best of days, so something like that would cause me to have a full blown panic attack. This got me thinking though, do animals have anxiety? Which animals do, and what causes this? How do they experience it? I’d like to find out a little bit more about this, so join me as I try to find out more about it.

Let’s start close to home. I know for a fact that cats can be anxious. I mean, my cat is more anxious than I am, which says a lot. Sometimes I worry it’s because my worries rubbed off on her. She’s scared of almost everything at this point. New sounds, things moved around in the house and most neighborhood cats all cause her to worry and sometimes hide. The other day we had a few people over to install a new boiler in the attic and even though they weren’t really in the living room besides once or twice, she would still spend most of the day hiding below the table to make sure she was safe. Her favorite place is under my bed sheets where she’s safe from everything. Having said all this, she luckily doesn’t show any of the symptoms of anxiety on a physical level. According to a quick google search, anxiety can cause cats to avoid the litter box, get aggressive, meow excessively and stop eating. She does none of this. I think she’s kind of like me in that regard, even though we’re filled with anxiety, life still has to go on as normal. I suppose a little bit of anxiety doesn’t make us ill. Just make sure you find a nice bed to rest in to deal with it, because unlike cats, we don’t really fit under the table all too well.

Google tells me that a lot of pets can get anxiety. Since these animals have awareness, they can also be scared of things and be worried. The animals it lists are animals like chimpanzees and elephants, which we know are very intelligent, probably more intelligent than me on an average day, as well as dogs, cats, rabbits, lizards, turtles and snakes. Remember to treat your pets well folks. But the animals I’m most curious about are insects. Do insects have anxiety?

It’s a lot harder to find a clear answer about it. It’s probably harder to figure out, but from what I can see it does seem like scientists agree that insects likely do suffer from anxiety. They’re living organisms after all, so it does make sense from that perspective. I get a lot of links about insects causing us anxiety which shouldn’t have surprised me but did. Personally I’m not scared of insects, although I am scared of spiders. Eight legs is too many. One thing I forgot about is how so many websites want you to pay up or register to their website to keep reading. It’s really annoying and part of the reason why I didn’t look into it much more. But from what I could find is that insects do feel anxiety. To end on a positive note, biologists do say that insects have a built in mechanism that helps them find their way home. Reading that makes me feel a little bit better about misplacing insects. They land on you or your bike so often that there’s not much I could do about it even if I paid attention to it all the time. When your life is so short it would suck to spend a large part of it anxious about being able to find your way home or not. Then again, their perception of time is probably so different that it’s not a big deal to them. These things fascinate me, maybe because I’m so bad at empathizing with others like that. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be someone else, let alone a whole different creature. Either way, I’m getting off track. I hope I’m not the only one who worries about these kinds of weird things, but if I am, let me know in the comments down below. As always, thanks for reading!

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