The ability to feel and perceive is sentience. The sentience of cows, pigs, and chickens is one reason that some people become vegetarians.

In the 18th century, Western philosophers defined sentience as the ability to feel, which they contrasted with the ability to reason or think. For Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs, sentience is something that's present to some degree in all beings, human and non-human. The exact definition of the word varies from "consciousness" to simply "the ability to feel pain and pleasure." The Latin root of sentience is sentire, "to feel or perceive."

Definitions of sentience
  1. noun
    state of elementary or undifferentiated consciousness
    synonyms: awareness
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    type of:
    an alert cognitive state in which you are aware of yourself and your situation
  2. noun
    the readiness to perceive sensations; elementary or undifferentiated consciousness
    “"gave sentience to slugs and newts"- Richard Eberhart”
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    lacking consciousness or ability to perceive sensations
    type of:
    aliveness, animateness, liveness
    the property of being animated; having animal life as distinguished from plant life
  3. noun
    the faculty through which the external world is apprehended
    synonyms: sensation, sense, sensory faculty, sentiency
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    modality, sense modality, sensory system
    a particular sense
    sensibility, sensitiveness, sensitivity
    (physiology) responsiveness to external stimuli; the faculty of sensation
    a sensitivity that is keen and highly developed
    extreme sensitivity
    reactivity, responsiveness
    responsive to stimulation
    sensitivity to stimuli originating outside of the body
    sensitivity to stimuli originating inside of the body
    photosensitivity, radiosensitivity
    sensitivity to the action of radiant energy
    sight, vision, visual modality, visual sense
    the ability to see; the visual faculty
    any of the sensory systems that mediate sensations of pressure and tickle and warmth and cold and vibration and limb position and limb movement and pain
    audition, auditory modality, auditory sense, hearing, sense of hearing
    the ability to hear; the auditory faculty
    gustation, gustatory modality, sense of taste, taste
    the faculty of distinguishing sweet, sour, bitter, and salty properties in the mouth
    olfaction, olfactory modality, sense of smell, smell
    the faculty that enables us to distinguish scents
    type of:
    faculty, mental faculty, module
    one of the inherent cognitive or perceptual powers of the mind
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