Anthropomorphism, attributing human characteristics of thought, feeling and consciousness to non-humans, was long considered a scientific sin by animal behavior researchers. It still is by some. When considering cartoons or talking dog movies I can’t say I disagree, at least in degree. I don’t think there is any real harm and as a literary device, especially in fables, has for millennia been helpful in teaching life lessons. Maybe Wile E. Coyote and Scooby-Doo not so much.
Good news for animal lovers not burdened with rigid scientific protocols, just good old fashioned enjoyment of being with and sharing experiences with pets as well as (safely) wildlife, research over the last coupleathree decades is proving what seemed to be so plainly observable – many species are capable of expressing emotions which aren’t just instinctive programming, but shows a level of consciousness.
For example, I think this Barred Owl pair is enjoying each other’s company. Maybe even a little pre-owlets romantic making out while they have time before fulltime childcare 🙂