For all of you non-humans out there, do you feel phantom parts like animal ears or tails all of the time or most of the time to be considered therian, otherkin or kith? That's what I've been wondering, so perhaps I could feel a little bit closer to understanding myself.
Personally I feel my feline phantoms all the time and my argonian phantoms pretty often, but not constantly.
You certainly don't have to have phantoms all the time to be considered therian/otherkin/kith! Everyone experiences things differently, some may never experience any phantoms or shift at all.
Otherkinity/therianthropy is an identity as something non-human (while kith/otherhearted is identifying with). The experiences that go along with the identity are personal to each individual.
As @Velvet said, you certaintly dont need to feel your phantom limbs all the time, or even at all to be a therian. I personally can feel my ears fairly frequently, but that is a recent development, and before that I hardly ever had phantom shifts, just mental and sensory. Basically while most therians experience shifts at some point, and phantom shifts are a common one, they aren't needed to be a therian, for example some are suntherians who are blended between human and animal. All in all everyone has a different experience, and for the most part there is no one thing that gets to determine your therianthropy.
Not how most describe their phantom shifts. I often get shifts in my hands. They're mostly just webbing between my fingers and sometimes a little poison dart thingy at the bottom of my hand and beginning of my wrist. I don't usually get phantom shifts unless somehow provoked (like I'll get that weird stabby wrist thing if someone throws something at me unexpectedly and I try to deflect it)
Generally speaking, the more aware of and attuned to myself, the more I recognize these things. I needn't be actively channeling the feline aspect to experience them but if I am distracted mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually, it mutes their appearances and intensity. By that what I mean is, is that I might be engaged in something and while doing it if I even so much as feel a break or lapse in focus, I am suddenly aware I can tense or manipulate phantom protractile claws and that they had been present all along, just that I hadn't noticed them. This awareness might not remain for long but the sensation is there until dispelled by added distraction, to the point it starts to interfere a bit with something involving use of the digits. Other times the sensation to orient ears in a direction is given but obviously this cannot be achieved and the feedback from the body issues a response of, "The mind says they have been oriented, however, the body isn't certain how to respond." and it goes from being a subconscious reaction to the awareness in a moment.
At this point in my life I often take the time to actively engage and often visualize mentally the actions. Uniquely this has become a one-to-one recreation in imagery with time, in that I can visualize actions translated properly despite disparities in physical ability or exact function; I can see with eyes open picking up a can, I can see with eyes closed a paw managing the same feat. So now the two elements of phantom and mental aspects have begun to interweave, all it takes is acknowledging the impetus and suddenly the mental dynamic has linked with the phantom one even if for brief windows. So I believe it is possible to always feel phantom qualities but I would say most probably do not or will not.
I'm with what others have said above. Feeling phantom shifts is not a requirement to being therian/otherkin/etc. It is just a facet that one may experience, and at that, you don't have to experience it all of the time either. Personally, I do feel my ears and tail at all times, and only feel my muzzle during meditation or meditative tasks such as long, personal walks.