Do Cats Hold Grudges? It is s a great question, and people try to make it all about science. Well, for sure, there is some science behind it. However, cats are living beings and have emotional responses to what is happening to them.

Cats can hold “grudges” against owners when they think they did something wrong. Scientifically we can say they associate smells and pain with a specific person or environment, staying away. So it can be considered a grudge when cats avoid their owners, although it is mostly fear.

Let’s examine the subject.

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If you do not believe that there is more than just science, I will put some videos below you can watch where you can see cats saving humans and acting like they are real people.

Have you heard the story of Tara, the cat? She saved a little boy from a dog attack. Of course, you could say it was instinct, but would Tare have really made a run to fight the dog if she did follow instinct?

What does this have to do with whether cats hold grudges? A lot, in fact. I will tell you a personal story to see how it is not only animal instinct.


My cat, Coco, was born in the USA. I had him for a year, and we started to really bond together. He came every morning to wake me up, give me kisses, and play together. When he was one year old, we had to move to Italy.

I felt terrible for him because I knew he hates strangers, movements, and changes, so much that It took me a year to have him lay next to me in bed, he has always been somehow very independent.

Unfortunately, the travel ruined the bond. He traveled with me in a kennel on a flight! Fortunately, I had just gotten a second cat to make him company, so he was not alone.

When we settled in the new home, he took 2 or 3 weeks to be comfortable and take back the old food, playing, and sleeping routines.

But, still, I could see that even after he settled in, he was more distant. He would not come to me anymore to wake me up. He would not meow at me anymore, not even complain, and was distant. In short: He wasn’t talking to me anymore!

He was playing with the other cat, but nope, he would not speak to me. So I decided to start being extra nice to him. First, I bought all his favorites treats and food and started to pet him when he came to eat regularly. Then, I gave him more treats and rubbed him again, trying to build the “relationship again.”

I missed our earlier bond.

Within days, he started to come again to wake me up, lay next to me, and go back to “talk to me,” asking for my attention, not only because he wanted the treats!

What did I learn: YES! CATS CAN HOLD GRUDGES! In their way, but they do.


Based on a more scientific approach, cats would associate smells and places with pain and unpleasant situations. Therefore they instinctively stay away from it. It is also based on memories. However, researchers are not 100% sure of how long the cat’s memory lasts.

Sure it can last enough to remember you bathed them, and now they need to hide from you! Based on this type of memory of bad experiences, they seem to hold grudges with you for unpleasant moments.

There isn’t a set amount of time agreed upon by researchers stating how long cat memory lasts, but it is reasonably easy to get a feel about it.

A Kitten’s memory of nasty things is very short. You can kick them out of spaces, even stumble on them a couple of times, and a moment later, they are already back, licking your hand. They can fall from a table or a couch, and they are already on it a second later.

Older cats retain the “offense” a bit longer. So, for example, if I stumble on my cat (over one year old), he may hide for a couple of hours, and he doesn’t come back immediately.

If you have an anxious cat, many things could be an offense. Therefore he may “hold grudges” more often. For those types of cats, any minor change, new smell, or sound can be a reason to be upset.


There aren’t enough research data to quantify exactly how many hours cats’ memory lasts, but It depends on your cat’s personality. For example, a grudge can last for seconds and minutes for a young kitten; it can be hours or days for an older cat.

It also depends on what causes the grudge. For example, if they associate the event with something very traumatic for them, they can hide and go out of view for days.

For lighter matters, it can be minutes or hours. If your cat is not shy, he can be more of an “easy forgiver” and come back to you faster.

If you have built a relationship with your cat, you may have come to know him and how he reacts to things. For example, I completely understand most things that can cause my cats to grudge me and others.

However, since I like my cats, I try not to trigger the “grudge mechanism.”

If a cat is mistreated often, he will not trust whoever mistreats him and will hold grudges. His memories last much longer since their survival mechanism is on much more often.


Cats can hold grudges against other cats. For example, a cat being attacked and scratched by another cat will remember to stay away from that cat and eventually try to attack back the other cat, even if hours have passed since the incident.

Younger cats can forgive quickly, while grown-up cats can retain the memories of a fight with other cats much longer. But, again, cats are different, and each cat can react differently to external stimuli.


Cats can be mad at you for a few minutes, hours, or days. It all depends on what ” you did to them”. Cats have a long list of things they don’t like. For example, they don’t like:

  • Too much petting
  • Being lifted up
  • Touching their belly
  • Touching paw pads
  • Walking on the tail by mistake
  • Moving furniture
  • Vacuum cleaning
  • Waking up when sleeping
  • Not cleaning the litter box
  • Leaving the cat alone for an extended period
  • Lack of attention
  • Removing their sleeping or hiding places
  • Changes in general

The more you annoy your cat, the more he will try to stay away from you. If your cat is holding grudges, he can do any of the following things:

  • Hiding
  • Leaving the room when you enter
  • Fast movements of the tail
  • Flat ears pressing against the skull
  • Dilated pupils on your cat
  • Puffed tail
  • Hissing
  • Growing



Do cats forgive their owners?

Yes, cats forgive their owners. Cats do not hold grudges for long. Usually, they learn to trust again. Of course, it can take longer for severe trauma, but generally, for more minor “infractions,” they forgive pretty fast.

Do cats know when you accidentally hurt them?

Cats may not know that you hurt them accidentally, but if you have a bond with them, usually, they let it go pretty fast. If I step accidentally on my cat’s tail or something like this, I immediately pick him up, pet him, and give him some treats until we are good again!

How do I say sorry to my cat?

Usually, you can try with treats, get some in your hands, and he will smell you and start eating the treats. It means you are friends again. Food is always the best answer. Next, you can try petting him, but not all cats like petting when upset.

Do cats forgive abuse?

Eventually, in the long run, cats may forgive abuse. If they are treated well, given affection and love, and are kept in a safe environment, they may trust again. It may take a long time, but it is possible.

Can you hurt a cat’s feelings?

You can see in their face when they feel wrong about something or if they feel rejected, in their way, of course. So, yes, it is possible to “hurt their feelings.” But it is also easy to resolve the issue and win them back with love and… some treats!

Are cats able to show human emotions?

Well, I’ll let you judge! They, for sure, can display emotions and intelligence and even better the behavior of some humans. I want to share the stories of some unusual behavior and personality:

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