You are welcome to think this page through with me – it's based on my imagination, i make no claim to scientific research.
So, for animals, what is identity – what is constant, what is security, 'what am I?'.
Animal identity is based on their inner body feeling. They have and give mutual confirmation within their social group and usually identify with their territory. In addition, their relationship with the world is experienced and understood by both the panoramic and focused use of their senses.
The internal awareness of tastes and smells and Body and Breathing discuss the inner sense of our bodies. I obviously have no proof, but i suggest being in touch with the inside warmth, taste and smell, and the feel of their own bodies from the inside, is a very intimate sense of being, and i believe this is central to an animals identity.
Smell, breath and taste stimulate and are regulated by the lower brain. These basic senses existed long before animals developed eyes and ears. Animals are far more in touch with and reliant on their lower brain. I feel sure this connection with the lower brain has a far greater significance than i can decribe, experts in the field would know more.
Added to this internal self awareness, animal identity involves their territory and usually a deep unquestioned sense of belonging and social confirmation with their partners or social groups.
THE TWO MODES OF SENSING
Animals are not lost in abstract thought about their identity and their needs. Life is immediate, and everything they want, like a child, has to be now. And animals have two different sensory systems for relating to the outside world now. Focusing and panoramic.
And in the same way as : how we sense the world, determines how we we understand it and ourselves, – an animals sensory abilities, determines their understanding, their relationship with, and their feeling of identity in the world.
An animals experience of focusing must result in a feeling similar to ours – of being an active subject doing something to, with, or at an object.
But throughout evolution, the panoramic mode has been their natural way to switch off, stop doing everything and be still and receptive for a moment. It evolved because it is the most direct connection with the outside world. And for animals, this is indirectly a constant reminder of how it feels to be still inside, now, and connected with everything around them.
So i believe, in the few moments animals have, when they can just doze and don't need to fight for survival, they are far more practised than we are, and much more able to turn off and just be, and feel their bodies warmth and reality. It's a habit, an habitual rut which animals have. And this inner sense of self sufficiency in their own bodies, gives them an underlying background sense of peace in and with the world.
This is obviously all only guesswork, ... but it all suggests animals have an ego identity based in their individual internal bodies; a state of integration and connection with the world outside; and a social sense of bonding and belonging, far deeper than our human ideas on social confirmation. It's all very different to how humans sense their self-identity and the world around them.