Yes. When my cat died, all the cats came to that place, and sat for a long time at different distances. NOBODY sat down in his place. Apparently they understand. And further. Almost 2 months, then one cat, then another came and seemed to stroke my hand ... They did not stroke it, but stroked it with their paws. Almost the same as my deceased cat did ......
Veterinarian Jennifer Coates, a highly experienced specialist, believes that pets are well aware of what death is. This is what she writes:
"Elephants or whales mourn the death of their close comrades! And this does not seem strange to anyone. But that is the death of a relative, comrade. Can animals anticipate their own death? p>
I'm a veterinarian, I've seen a lot in my life. I remember a story that happened in one house. I was invited to give a lethal injection to an elderly dying dog. Before I inserted the catheter, out of nowhere, a cat came. dog and gently, very carefully put my paws on it - I'm with you, friend. I was incredibly surprised when I found out that during their lifetime these animals were not particularly friendly and did not get along with each other.
Another story was told by a colleague , the owner of three dogs. When the tragedy happened - one of the pets died, the other two came to the lifeless body of a comrade and began to whine loudly, drawn out.
And there are actually many similar stories "
At the same time, something can be said for sure: many animals feel, rather, not death itself, but sweat ery. That is, there was a person or a relative, but now he is not around. And there has been a long period of time. And they are able to mourn or worry about this loss
Not only awareness is a big question. However, great apes are clearly aware of death. This can be seen in general in their behavior, and the case with the language-trained gorilla Koko is a classic. She had a kitten of her own choice. She gave him a name, fed, caressed and played with him. Then he died on the road. It is especially important that she did not see this, but was told to her. Here you can see: koko.org Despite the fact that she later had and still has other cats, she is sad when she is shown his photo. But what is the awareness of death in general? We are aware of the loss. Some highly developed social animals (wolves, for example) feel the loss, express it in their own way. How can awareness be assessed without complex, developed speech? Besides, how do we realize our own, and not someone else's, death? It is at least clear that people do not have one clear understanding of death, and indeed it cannot be, since the dead do not tell.
So, not only awareness is in question, but also the instinct of self-preservation. One of the founders of zoopsychology, Nobel laureate Konrad Lorenz:
The activity of an organism, which can be called by its function - nutrition, reproduction or even self-preservation - of course, is never the result of only one single reason or one the only motivation. Therefore, the value of concepts such as the "reproductive instinct" or "the instinct of self-preservation" is as insignificant as the value of the concept of some special "automobile power" would be insignificant, which I could just as rightly introduce to explain the fact that my old a good car still drives ... Anyone who is familiar with pathological disorders of innate mechanisms of behavior - we call these mechanisms instincts - will never think that animals, and even people, are guided by some guiding factors that are comprehensible only from the point of view of the final result , and a causal explanation does not lend itself and do not need it. Behavior that is uniform in terms of function - for example, nutrition or reproduction - is always due to a very complex interaction of many physiological causes lib.ru
I disagree with the previous answer. Instinct and "awareness" are two different things. Animals, obviously, do not have a level of consciousness comparable to humans. Agree, they are unlikely to have existential feelings about their own finitude.
In general, a trick question. Before answering, you need to clarify the definition of "understand".
Awareness of one's mortality is the instinct of self-preservation. Without this, the animals would not fight for their lives and would be passive like grass. The grass can be trampled down, pulled out, mowed - it has no self-defense capabilities. And in animals, self-defense is the MOST PRIORITY motivation.