Dr. Michael W. Fox

Animal Altruism and Abilty To Empathize
Vegetarianism: A Bioethical Imperative
Dr. Fox on the Tonight Show
In Memoriam_Feral Cat Mark Twain
DVD Links
Releasing Cats To Live Outdoors
Outdoor Cats, Wildlife And Human Health
Cat and Dog Nutrition--the Thiamine Issue
Cat Food Recipe
Cat Tail Deemed To Be Good Vaccination Spot
Cat Behavior
Cat Vaccination Protocols
Declawing Cats
Feline Stomatitis Complex
Cat Litter Box Issues
Introducing A New Cat
Introducing A Dog Into Cat's Home
Choosing To Live With A Dog
Dog Vaccination Protocols
Dog Mutilations
Dog Food Recipe
Dental Problems In Companion Animals
Dog Food and Feeding Issues
Dr. Fox's Good Medicine Juice
The Truth About Manfactured Dog and Cat Food
Companion Animals Harmed By Pesticides
Dominance-based Dog Training
Dr. Fox and the Super Dog Project
Guide to Congenital & Heritable Disorders in Dogs
Dogwise E-Books
Concerning Outdoor Chaining/Tethering Of Dogs
Dogs In Shelters
Dr. Fox's Good Dog Cookie Recipe
Don't Clone Your Dog Or Cat!
The Pros and Cons of Neutering Your Dog
Recovering Canine Health And The Natural Dog
Animal Vaccination Concerns
Care For Dogs and Cats With Renal Failure
Urinary Tract Stones
Green Pet Care
Puppy and Kitten Breeding Mills
Pure Water for Cats and Dogs--and All
Dental Problems In Companion Animals
Chemical-related Human Diseases In Companion Animals
From Mineral Oil & Multiple Sclerosis to Plastics, Nanoparticles
Companion Animal Care
Companion Animals and Flea and Tick Treatments
Behavioral Problems and Drug Solutions: A Last Resort
Preventing Fleas
Domestication and Diet
Lyme Disease and Wildlife Management
Disease and Animal Rights
GMOs and Pet Food
Journal of AVMA and GMOs
Indoor and Outdoor Poison Hazards for Pets
Carrageenan In Pet Foods
Cats, Dogs and Cadmium
Fluoride In Pet Food - A Serious Health Risk?
Best Manufactured Pet Foods
Pet Food Letters
Nutrigenomics and the Pet Food Revolution
The Ethics of Krill Oil and Protein Supplements
Animal-Insensitivity Syndrome
Wolves and Human Well-being
Wolf-Dog Hybrids
Crying Wolf Too Much
Betrayal of Wolves and Public Trust
The 'One Medicine'
Pet Health Insurance
The Veterinary Profession
  Pharmaceutical Cruelty In Animal Farms: Consumer Beware
Pig Parts For People
Conflicts Of Interest In The Veterinary Profession
Bioethics: Its Scope And Purpose
The Bioethics And Politics Of Manufactured Pet Foods
Animal Rights, Human Rights And Wrongs
The Future of the Veterinary Profession
Holistic Veterinary Medicine
Veterinary Ethics and Economics
Veterinary Bioethics and Animal Welfare
Principles Of Veterinary Bioethics
What Price Our Animal Relationships?
Changing Diets for Health's and Earth's Sake
Wildlife Conservation
Wildlife Reseach Needs Ethical Boundaries
Wildlife Management Practices
How Animals Suffer Around the World
Feeling for Animals and Animal Liberation
Animal Altruism and Abilty To Empathize
What Makes Animals Happy?
The Empathosphere: Animal Prescience, And Remote Sensing
Mental Effects on Physical Health: The Mind-Body Connection
Animal Spirits
Light Of Compassion
Religion, Science and Animal Rights
Animal Suffering And The God Question
Healing Animals & The Vision of One Health
Islam And Animals
Panentheism: The Spirituality Of Compassion
One Earth, One Health
Why We All Must Care For Animals and the Environment
Quality Of Life In Animals
Healing Agriculture's Broken Connections
Mammon Vs. Civil Society
Justice For All Beings And The End Of Terrorism
Universal Bill Of Rights For Animals And Nature
Science Writers' and Reporters' Political Agendas
Cambridge Declaration On Consciousness
Michael W. Fox Resume'
Dr. Fox Biographical Interview
Interview: History of Animal Welfare Science
Curriculum Vitae
Books By Dr. Fox
Dr. Fox Lectures, Seminars and Workshops
My Life For The Animals
To Kiss Salamanders and Stones


By Dr. Michael W. Fox

If animals were incapable of empathy, of understanding another’s emotional state and having feeling for another’s distress, then we would find no evidence of altruistic behavior in the animal kingdom. But indeed we do.

Ethologists use the terms care-giving, or epimeletic behavior, and care-soliciting, or et-epimeletic behavior, to identify those behaviors that underlie the altruism we see in various species that means that they do have the capacity to empathize. Skeptics dismiss all of this as anthropomorphic and scientifically unproven, and it disturbs me to read some professional comments on this topic. For example, veterinarian John S. Parker stated that "Pets can and often do react to their owners’ distress or discomfort, but that is not to be confused with experiencing the emotion of empathy" (Letter in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, June 1, 2006, pp 1677-1678). Aside from contending that animals "do not have the cognitive capacity to put themselves in our place", he incorrectly sees empathy not as a process or affective state but as an actual emotion, which it is not. Animal ethics philosopher Dr. Bernard E. Rollin’s response (in this same Journal, on p.1678), stating that "there is some very suggestive evidence that at least some animals, such as higher primates and elephants, do [empathize]" begs the question. The evidence from countless instances of empathetic behavior in companion animals is a red flag and not some anthropomorphic red herring, putting us all on notice that animals are far more aware than many people would like or accept for reasons best known to themselves. Here are some of the many accounts that people have shared with me about their empathetic animal companions.

Esther Schy from Fresno CA writes that "When I returned from the Cancer Center following treatment, I was extremely weak and ill. My two Airedale dogs would each take up their positions, like two book-ends, one on either side of me in bed and would lie there unmoving for hours, except for their taking turns laying their heads gently where I hurt the most."One night two years earlier one of her dogs named Robbie "suddenly jumped up in bed next to my husband, almost plastered to his side. He normally never did this, preferring to sleep on his cushion next to my side of the bed. He kept trembling for one hour, and then went down stairs by himself, which is another action he did not normally do (leaving the bedroom at night). My husband suffered a massive heart attack and died a few minutes later. I believe that Robbie knew that something awful was to be."

Like the Airedales who rested their heads on where their human companion hurt most, M.S.D., from Romeo MI has a Siamese cat who picked up on her cardiac palpitations that were causing much distress and preventing her from sleeping. "My Chloe came up, got as close as she could, and placed her paw on my left chest over my heart. Within a very short time the palpitations slowed and stopped, allowing me to get a good night’s rest."

Amy e. Snyder in Chesapeake, VA was comforted by her Main Coon cat Bonkers, who slept at her side during the woman’s ordeal with throat cancer, giving her comfort and constant attention. During radiation treatment some 100 miles away from home, Ms. Snyder was only able to come home on weekends, and one weekend she found Bonkers lethargic and looking older. She took him to her veterinarian, and Bonkers was euthanized because he had developed an inoperable cancer "completely cutting off his windpipe.---I believe, due to the extreme oddness of similarity to our illness that my cat literally tried to take on my disease. He did get me through all of this."

This anecdote supports my theory of sympathetic resonance, where highly empathetic animals may develop the same or similar disease that afflicts their loved one. Whether it is a deliberate or coincidental, the fact remains that empathizing is not without risk for humans and non-humans alike.

Many other letters attest to how cats and dogs have helped their human companions cope with depression and other emotional and physical difficulties, especially the loss of a spouse or other close relative.

Cary Watson from Clifton Park, NY writes that "Without my two dogs’ companionship, dealing with the loss of my wife would have been much harder. I can see why many people die soon after losing a spouse. We need love to carry on."

Echoing this sentiment, Barbara K. Joyner of Courtland VA wrote that, following the untimely death of her husband to be, her adopted cats "make me feel wanted, needed, loved. They bring joy and happiness into my dark, sad existence."

Suffering the loss of her only child from suicide, Patricia Maunu of Sioux Falls, SD tells me that her Bichon Frise dog J’aime "has given me the desire to get out of bed, and on many days given me the will to live!"

These and many other personal stories about how companion animals have helped their human guardians through difficult times, and are a constant source of affection and the joy of life, help us all appreciate why so many people who were victims of the Katrina hurricane disaster in New Orleans and other communities refused to leave without their animal companions. They are integral parts of the family and emotional lives of millions of people, and those who have not experienced the gifts of animal companionship, and the depths of animals’ empathy, have missed a golden opportunity to enrich their lives and awaken their appreciation for all creatures great and small.





Check the link below for a Dr. Fox C-Span feature concerning "Animal Testing"

Dr. Michael W. Fox on C-Span

--Video Link--

Dr. Michael W. Fox

What right do we humans have to exploit other animals?  Where does that right come from and what are the limits if any?  What duties or obligations do we have in our relationships with our dogs, cats and other animals domesticated and wild?

          Follow and support Caroline Kraus and her Moments of Truth Project documentary film as she travels across the U.S. asking people, who variously live, work with and care for animals, these and other relevant questions.

Is there an overriding consensus and what are the reasons why people respond very differently to these questions, which in part examine our character, culture and future?

The viewing and discussion of this kind of documentary should be part of every school curriculum and will be of interest to all who work with, profit from and care for animals. Project Home Page: http://momentsoftruthproject.com/  To see the interview with Dr. Fox go to http://momentsoftruthproject.com/dr-michael-fox/