1. The quality or state of being sentient; consciousness.
2. Feeling as distinguished from perception or thought.
Sentience refers to self-awareness and the ability to experience a range of sensations and emotions, of feeling pain and suffering, and of experiencing a state of well-being. Sentient animals are aware of their surroundings and of what happens to them.
Research is showing us that the lives of animals, including farmed animals, are much more complex than we previously understood. Research suggests that their social groupings, communication, feelings of pain, fear and anxiety, and the positive feelings of pleasure and play are vitally important to them.
‘We are not in any way speaking or thinking anthropomorphically when we say that dogs and cats are sentient beings with distinct personalities. That is simply a matter of fact. We have no doubt that they have an interest in avoiding pain, suffering, and death. We grieve when they die. But our dogs and cats are no different from the animals whose bodies we eat or who are used to produce dairy and eggs’ (Gary Francione).
To find out more about the concept of sentience, look into our Sentience Art Exhibition, which displays art work that demonstrates sentience in a wide range of animal species. Our flyer ‘Why Love One But Eat the Other?’ also looks into animal sentience in cats and dogs, as well as animals that are farmed: