Are animals a who or a that?

My cat is a who but a crocodile is a that. Why?

Probably because we give names and personalities to our pets and not to wild animals. If the crocodile’s name was Elizabeth and it was my pet, I’d call her “her” instead of “it” and use “who” instead of “that.”

Says who? To me, your cat is a that. Unless he’s the cat in the hat…

This is probably better suited to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

If it has a name, it’s a “who.” If not, it’s a “that.”

Wait a minute. I met Elizabeth down in the Everglades happily munching on a raccoon and a stray cat.
Small world it is.

Also, as yearofglad mentions with object pronouns, generally if it has a name it becomes he or she, instead of it, though the dialog of nature shows may use he or she with a nameless animal when tracking it over a sequence shots. (Nature films in general play with anthropomorphism a lot in order to construct narrative drama, so I wouldn’t consider their dialog normal discourse.)

And then he’d fit right in with all the Whos of Whoville.

That was the first question I’ve asked at TSD. I think this is going to be fun.

All the zoo animals are Whos. Cite: I worked at the zoo, and have visited backstage at lots.

The reason many wild animals are so cantankerous toward humans is precisely because we don’t treat them like fellow humans. We treat them like dirty, nameless animals and they don’t like that. I’m changing my ways.

My little schnoodle dog, Daisy (née Marguerite Francesca von Tibby) and I are going on a Nile Safari next month and we plan to treat all the wildlife we encounter as the valid individuals they are. I expect them to return the favor. I’m giving them all nicknames, will shake their paws, hooves, flippers or fins and we’ll play fun water games with them (e.g. Marco Polo with the hippos, peek-a-boo-I-see-you with the crocodiles, etc.). I’ll post the results of my anthro-beast sociological experiment upon my return…or not.