Thanks to everyone for commenting on the post "The Status of Animals" below I was about to try to focus the question, but Jean Raber has already brilliantly and incisively done the work. So I am reposting her comment as the focus for a new thread:
I'd like to see less heat and snark in this discussion and more people addressing what I see as these larger emerging questions:
1. Do some humans love animals to a degree that leads to unChristian behavior (e.g., "adopting animal children" instead of fulfilling an obligation to propogate their own species)? Is there such a thing as a sinful "disordered love" for animals? How does such "disordered love" manifest itself?
2. To what extent (if any) does caring for animals (pets, wild animals, farm animals) enhance our love of God and spiritual growth as Christians?
3. To what extent ought Christians' personal feelings about animals guide their treatment of animals? Beyond local animal cruelty laws, is there Church teaching that guides proper treatment of animal life?
4. Should Christians apply different ethical rules to different classes of animals (e.g., wild animals, pets, farm animals, vermin and insect pests)?
5. Should scientific studies suggesting that animals have emotions and problem-solving intelligence be factored into the proper Christian treatment of animals?
Amen, Jean. What do you all think the answers to these questions should be?