Best cat carers are emotionally intelligent. Discuss.

Emotional intelligence is about being aware of your own and other people’s feelings and using that information to make better judgments. I am sure it is something that is partly inherited and partly learned. Sometimes the learning process can take the form of a period of mental anguish during which a person is jolted into connecting with his or her feelings and thereby more able to understand the feelings of others.

I am sure that emotional intelligence is also vital to achieving excellence in cat caretaking because it greatly facilitates an empathy with animals who themselves have emotions and feelings.

Please note: this is a discussion page. It is a personal view and I expect some people to disagree and some to agree the basic principles in the argument. Some people will think the idea ludicrous. Fine.

Loving the vulnerable
Loving the vulnerable. Photo by JFA Japan (sorry, I have lost the link to the original photo)
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Owning a cat is about high standards of cat caretaking and companionship. It is based on love for the cat supported by a practical approach to life centered on a sensitivity towards the feelings of animals. Sometimes, the sensitivity is born out of the suffering of the human. I’ll explain that.

A person who has suffered some sort of mental anguish for whatever reason is more likely to have an empathy with the domestic cat and animals in general. Although, an empathy with the domestic cat is not dependent on a human going through a period of self examination and anguish but it helps.

It helps because a person who has suffered mentally to whatever degree and for whatever reason will tend to be vulnerable in the human society that we have created. Cats are also vulnerable in the human world and for a while the two are on a par with each other. This leads to a connection.

Conversely people who have undergone very little or no suffering are naturally more likely to be distanced from all animals.

I think it is about the process of sensitisation. When undergoing some sort of mental anguish a person becomes mentally sensitised to the circumstances that caused the anguish. They actually become more human by becoming more vulnerable and more aware of their feelings, shortcomings and humanity.

In becoming more aware of the fragility of the human he loses some of his arrogance. That simple step results in a much better connection with nature. It takes the human off his pedestal, from on high, looking down at animals, and puts him amongst them because all animal are vulnerable to human activity. I guess they live in a permanent state of mental anguish but they don’t see it that way.

Mental anguish may be caused by hard hitting events such as being bullied at school or it may be due to a very sensitive mentality that makes everything hard to deal with. Ultimately, it is about the brain being sensitised to the feelings of animals. People who have suffered are more likely to be more aware of their own feelings – to be more in touch with their own feelings. Perhaps that is what is called “emotional intelligence”. I don’t know.

However, I do know that a lot of people are very blunt in their levels of emotional intelligence. They are unaware of how their actions and behavior affects other people. These are the people who are the least likely to be good cat caretakers.

Finally, it seems that being sensitized in the way I have described can result in emotional damage that leads to animal abuse. There would seem to be a tipping point beyond which the development of sensitivity becomes the destruction of sensitivity.

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16 thoughts on “Best cat carers are emotionally intelligent. Discuss.”

  1. What is interesting is that I can almost guarantee that all the people who made comments on this page know how each of us feels and thinks in relation to cat ownership and indeed wider issues. There is a distinct harmony of thought which is brought about, I believe, because we are emotionally intelligent (without wishing to boast in any way).

    • You SHOULD boast Michael, because your PoC has brought together those of us in harmony and we all wish to make things better for cats.
      We well outnumber the Woodsman etc who only come to try to upset us.

  2. I agree that the best cat caretakers are emotionally intelligent because we understand that our cats have feelings too and we don’t ever want to hurt those feelings if we can avoid it.
    I agree too that emotional trauma makes us even more sympathetic, I learned through the loss of close family members that cats suffer from bereavement too and need time and support to come to terms with their loss. I learned from a bout of deep reactive depression after watching our much loved mother die of cancer, that cats can feel depressed too. When Ebony’s lifelong companion Bryan was PTS with cancer I know she had the cat’s version of reactive depression and needed much love and attention to help her through it.
    I must say it hurts being emotionally sensitive as we feel so much for others and for animals and share their hurt, I’d hate to be a cold hearted selfish person but their lives must be easier than ours.

    • Not really because although their lives could be easier they end up having a whole bunch of problems with people in personal relationships because they are insensitive and stuff like that. The people I feel sorry for are the ones who end up stuck with them since those people without feelings will just make a mess of your life until you leave them and dont look back. Other aspects of their lives might be easy though, like stepping on others to get to the top. Capitalism is inherently flawed and the people with power are the ones with the least feelings.

      • It sounds like you have suffered Marc!
        People I’ve known who are emotionally insensitive have just moved on, leaving devastation behind for others. One in particular who we thought was a friend and a cat lover and who we helped in many ways, had been conning us all along. She left behind 15 cats she was supposed to have loved and many unhappy conned robbed ‘friends’ and is living a new life somewhere with her next set of victims which is as we’ve found out too late, what she does.
        Is there such a thing as Karma? I hope so!

        • As you say Ruth some people are very cold hearted. Is that a complete lack of emotional intelligence? I think it is. It is sociopathic behavior.

          When people shoot cats for fun as Woodsman does the person cannot have a single iota of feelings for an animal. Surely these people totally lack emotional intelligence too.

          I think as Marc wisely said or implied, a lack of emotional intelligence is at the root of a lot of the world’s problems.

          • I think that ‘friend’ is definitely a sociopath Michael, she has showed not a scrap of remorse.
            Sociopaths are very good actors and they feed off others to see how they should be reacting emotionally to situations.
            It’s frightening that those people are so very clever.

  3. Hi Michael,

    I think you’re right on all fronts.

    I think that the sensitive person is the best cat guardian.

    It might also be described as compassion.

    To have compassion, a person first has to be empathic. They must be sympathetic to the feelings of others.

    They have to care enough to make another feel happy and secure. They have to care about avoiding causing another to be upset or uncomfortable. They have to be able to read emotions in others and to react in a helpful way as needed.

    To be a good caretaker, they have to understand both positive and negative emotions. They have to be concerned about protecting their cats from the negative emotional experiences and be able to increase the good emotions in their cats.

    No one can succeed 100%, but they should certainly be aiming for it. Good caretakers do.

    Going through quite a bit of emotional trauma has a tendency to garner sympathy for the feelings and needs of others aka become sensitive.

    This helps to make a person become a better caretaker. On the other hand, I have seen a few people become excellent caretakers though they haven’t had very many upsetting experiences.

    Still, the more a person can relate to emotional pain, the better equipped they are at tuning into and helping others. They are more compassionate.

    Good observation about the “tipping point”. I’ve also seen people who have become so emotionally battered that they have become very unsympathetic to the emotions and needs of others. They have become bitter, very mean-spirited, selfish, and destructive. Some are even sociopathic.

    Once again, I’d like to say that I agree that the emotionally sensitive do make the best caretakers.

    =^..^= Hairless Cat Girl =^..^=

    • Really nice comment Liz. Adds to the post nicely. I am glad we agree on these very important issues. I think an awareness of a cat’s feelings is vital to cat caring.

      You just have to know what’s right at a certain time. A lack of empathy leads to blunt, crude and poor cat caretaking that can result in scratches, bites and cat relinquishment

  4. Emotional intelligence is the one huge huge thing our society needs to become more aware of. The fact is that in our culture you can become super successful at the top or even in government and a lack of emotional intelligence will help to be shameless or cruel when you need to be to get to the top. This is the one major huge failure of our modern society and culture. Emotional intelligence is a huge factor in whether we can save this planet or not. Sorry Michael, I wont go on here but you have hit on what I believe to be the most important aspect of our time and I could go on and on ranting πŸ™‚ – to remain on subject I simply agree that emotional intelligence is what creates a symbiotic relationship between humans and nature/animals/plants/life/cats. Its tragic that the most childish and emotionally cruel and unintelligent people have an advantage in this destructive opportunistic consumer society because they can get on with doing crappy things to make money and law and get to the top. I have always thought it is also the reason why alcohol is the only legal drug, because those people can keep those same crappy values in place and have fun with it. Alcohol is the drug of governments. Anyways, like I said, I wont go and on – it’s a hugely political and sensitive issue and animal welfare or lack thereof is a massive sign of the question of the lack of emotional intelligence in people today.

    Yes, and emotionally intelligent person with be a good cat caretaker and probably a decent person with good ustainable principles too.

    • Hi Marc,

      Great point. I think what your saying is that a lot of the problems in society exist because people aren’t compassionate enough. Too few tune in and actually listen to their conscience.

      Is that what you are saying?

      =^..^= Hairless Cat Girl =^..^=

      • Yes thats pretty much it. Emotional intelligence definitely means compassion amongst many things. It’s esssential as part of a healthy balance. You can see the structure of our culture was made by people who lacked compassion and who only sought to profit from and control nature without thinking about future generations. Compassion would have caused them to make a more sustainable model.

        • Compassion is such a good word and sentiment, isn’t it? For me it implies tenderness, thoughtfulness, strength and a desire to help. It is certainly a useful quality in a person caring for a cat or cats.

          The world is run by alpha male homo sapiens. He has a big business to run and compassion does not fit very nicely into his life. So as Marc says the world is used and abused for short term gain. A lot of people, more and more see the weaknesses in the current model. The domestic cat does not really fit in with the modern world as a result. In America there are millions of fine cat caretakers but too many cat killings (legal and illegal) and in poorer countries the domestic cat has a hard time of it.

          I’ll be honest. I don’t think the domestication of the cat has been a major success.


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