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, I have observed my cats and researched it, and I can give a comprehensive answer to the cat’s grudges.
Cats can hold “grudges” with owners when they think they did something wrong, scientifically we can say they associate smells and pain to a specific person or environment, so they stay away. However, it is possible to see some emotional aspects with cats and animals in general, displaying emphatic behaviors and affections. After all, they are living beings.
Let’s examine the subject.
DO CATS HOLD GRUDGES?
If you do not believe that there is more then just science, I will put some videos below you can watch where you can see cats saving humans and act like they are real people.
Have you heard the story of Tara, the cat? She saved a little boy from a dog attack. You could say it was instinct, but if they did follow instinct, would Tare have really made a run to fight the dog?
What this has to do with the question if do cats hold grudges? A lot, in fact. I will tell you a personal story so you can see how it is not only animal instinct or chemicals.
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 every evening. It had happened when he was 1 year old we had to move to Italy.
I felt bad for him because I knew he hates strangers, movements, and changes. It took me a year to have him lay next to me in bed, he has always been somehow very independent. 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.
She ( the other cat- and yes, for me cats are HE or SHE) is much more open and less scared of things, even if 6 months younger, so he would go next to her and get some comfort.
When we settled in the new home, he took 2 or 3 weeks to be comfortable and take back the old routines on food, playing, and sleeping. 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 to complain, he 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. I bought all his favorites treats and food and started to pet him when he came to eat regularly. Then, I gave him a bit more treats and petted him again, trying to build the “relationship again.”
I missed our earlier bond.
In days he started to come again to wake me up and lay next to me, and go back to “talk to me,” asking for my attention, not only because he wanted the treats! He would just come and sit and poke me again, would also play with me throwing his favorite ball, and he would go and chase it.
What did I learn: YES! CATS CAN HOLD GRUDGES! In their own way, but they do, I know that this may sound controversial.
DO CATS HOLD GRUDGES – SCIENTIFIC APPROACH
Based on a more scientific approach, cats would associate smells, places to pain, and unpleasant situations. Therefore they instinctively stay away from it. It is also based on memories. 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 would see 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 really lasts, but it is fairly easy to get a feel about it.
A Kitten memory of bad 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 leaking your hand. They can fall from a table or a couch, and a second later, they are already on it.
Older cats retain the “offense” a bit longer. If I stumble on my cat, 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 little change, new smell, or sound can be a reason to be upset.
HOW LONG CATS CAN HOLD GRUDGES?
It really depends on your cat personality. 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. 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 the afraid time, he can be more of a “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. I have a full understanding of most things that can cause grudges with me and with others. Since I like my cats, I try not to trigger the “grudge mechanism.”
If a cat is mistreated often, he will start not trusting whoever is mistreating him and holding grudges. His memories are lasting much longer since their survival mechanism is on much more often.
I sometimes get really mad at my cat when, for example, he jumps up and leaves when I move too fast for him. “Come on, I know you for 2 years, and I did not eat it you for breakfast! It is even possible you still do not trust me?”
From the other side, I see that he becomes more forgiving over time, when before he would disappear for days, now it is only a few hours or minutes, it means that he actually trust me. This is of some consolation.
This subject is generating a lot of questions. Of course, as pet owners, we would like to understand better our cats and make them feel better. Here some other questions raised:
- Do cats forgive their owners?
Yes, they do. Cats do not hold grudges for long. Usually, they learn to trust again. It can take longer for serious trauma, but normally for smaller “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 it happens that I step accidentally on my cat’s tail or something like this, I immediately pick him up and 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. You can try petting him, but not all cats like petting when they are upset.
- Do cats forgive abuse?
Eventually, in the long run, cats may forgive abuse. If they are treated well, if they are 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 of if they feel rejected, in their way, of course. 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 let you judge! They, for sure, can display emotions and intelligence and even better behavior of some humans. I want to share the stories of some exceptional behavior and personality:
I hope we were able to give some good information on the cat’s grudges! If you have a story you want to share or have a question, write it in the comments below.