The Romantic poet John Keats defined what he called “negative capability,” the ability to make one’s own prejudices, attitudes, preferences into a blank sheet, and allow those of some other living being to fill it. He practiced this on the sparrows on his windowsill, and was able, to some extent, to see and feel what he imagined sparrows saw and felt.
In the thin layer we call the biosphere, which covers the surface of the earth from a few feet underground to a surprising distance up into the heavens, living and non-living beings exist together. The German writer Goethe was the first, to my limited knowledge, to extend negative capability to plants, a vital part of the living web for all its inhabitants.
The opposite of this capacity to see through the eyes of another is “sentimentality,” when the viewer projects all his (or her) attitudes and convictions on to the beings they are looking at, and consequently fail completely to apprehend anything at all about them.
People who dress up their dogs in little bootees for their feet, and fine jackets for their shoulders are showing a sentimental attitude. Common sense suggests that for a dog bare paws and a furry back are healthy and normal. Cats certainly wouldn’t stand for it, and will claw and bite the clothes right off, if they can, but some animals can be made to comply. The notion that little boots to keep their feet warm, for example, would improve sparrows, identifies the extreme sentimentalist.