Episode 492 – Feline Social Intelligence

What do you think about when you think about feline social intelligence? If you’re like me, it’s probably not the same thing the researchers described in this article were thinking.

Below are the key elements of social intelligence as defined by those in the human behavioral sciences. Well, not exactly. So far there’s not a lot of agreement on any definition. But if you’re bored or want a bit of fun, you can do what I did:  Think about these as they apply to any cats in your households.

Below are Bamboo’s results.

  1. Verbal Fluency and Conversational Skills. Bam’s vocal fluency falls into two categories: demanding and greeting. The intensity and loudness of each is situation-dependent. When he outside when it starts to rain, I can hear his demanding yowls for entry from all over the house. When he wants me to pet him while I’m weeding, a soft meow usually works.
  2. Knowledge of Social Roles, Rules, and Scripts. Bam definiately knows know to play by social rules. But only when it suits his purposes. Just like members of all species. Perhaps because people don’t expect him to, I suppose when he does he could come across as  socially sophisticated.
  3. Effective Listening Skills. Like all my other cats, Bam can be an incredible listener. When I’m nattering on to him, he observes me so intently he makes me feel like a genius when I tell him to remind me to put toilet paper on the shopping list.
  4. Understanding What Makes Other People Tick. Sometimes called  Emotional Intelligence.   Bamboo ranks high on these skills relative to me and the dogs. Sometimes too well. As for others of all species, it depends on what’s in it for him. However, unlike some people who do the same thing, he doesn’t try to hide his motivation.
  5. Role Playing and Social Self-Efficacy. a.k.a. self-esteem (in some circles). This one is a little bit trickier. Does Bam’s ability to vanish or act like people in his presence don’t exist gain him points here? Doing so does seem to enable him to feel comfortable, self-confident, and effective in those environments. Or does he need to engage cheerfully with all people whether he cares about them not? My experience suggests that hypocrisy isn’t in his skill set.
  6. Impression Management Skills. Although Bamboo keeps himself impeccably well-groomed , I doubt this has anything to do with his desire to impress me. More likely his grooming habits are aimed at not impressing rodents or predators.


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