Re: Does your dog or cat have conscious thought?
I believe they do. Companion animals can even often understand our thought processes, be it by interpreting body language, taught cues, or what have you, many animals will help others in need, offer quiet comfort when we're upset...
I'm a "cat guy" I love them and have always had at least one as a companion. I've watched cats work out their path in their head before taking some insane climbing route to the top of a house. I've watched cats have spats between one another, and form lasting bonds with their playmates, and even humans. I've known cats who got depressed when their friend passed away, much the same way my grandmother was never the same after grandpa's passing. They have their own agendas, and independent thought is a given in my mind. This simply can't all be instinct, because each one has it's own personality. You can tell where instinct comes in.
Overall I think "animals" have a lot more going on upstairs than we give them credit for sometimes. Often the complexity of their thought process is limited, and just as in humans, some of them (and us) are incredibly stupid.