Do Cats Hold Grudges?

Do Cats Hold Grudges?

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Each cat has their own personality, and when they’re not happy about something, they let their humans know in their own special way.

But do cats hold grudges? Keep reading to find out.

Cats Are Fickle

If you have ever had a new person move into the home, like a new spouse or a new baby, you may have noticed a behavior change in your kitty.

Some kitties love new things and others don’t.

If your cat is constantly hissing at your significant other, does that mean that kitty holds a grudge or is something else going on?

Most cat owners probably think that cats do hold grudges.

If you’ve ever given your cat a bath and had them avoid you for a few days afterward, you might think that they’re holding a grudge against their cleanser.

They are certainly comfortable letting us know when we have disappointed them, but do they remember something they perceive as bad and hold onto it?

Kittens can’t hold grudges because of their short memory

As with many cat-related things, that answer seems to be up for debate, but it may partly depend on the age of the animal.

Kittens have notoriously short memories.

Anyone who has had a kitten will tell  you that kittens need a lot of correcting, probably because they don’t remember the last correction.

Using that logic, kittens probably don’t hold grudges because they simply don’t have the memory for it.

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How well do cats remember things?

This is a subject of popular debate among scientists. No one knows exactly how good a cat’s memory is.

Older cats do have better memories than kittens (and dogs as well). Research suggests that an adult cat has a memory of about 16 hours.

Dogs, on the other hand, have a memory span of about five minutes. Your cat isn’t just besting a dog in memory.

Interestingly, cats have better memories than monkeys and orangutans as well!

A cat’s brain is similar in structure to a human brain, which may explain why cats remember certain things like when it’s time to eat, how to open a door, or how to communicate with you.

***AUTHOR’S NOTE*** My cat seems to be a walking egg timer. Every day around 4:00, I hear the thump as she dismounts her nap. You could set your watch by her.

This is about an hour before supper time and it’s when she starts her campaign of harassment designed to annoy me so much that I feed her early.

I admit that sometimes, after she’s knocked the sixth thing off the table or shelf, I cave in, which is perfect reinforcement for my fluffy dictator.

Do cats forgive?

Cats tend to be pretty forgiving animals.

Yes, they may be miffed that you shooed them off a table or other perch, but usually within a few hours, all is forgotten, and they’re back to receive their neck rubs.

The mystery continues

Scientists and veterinarians don’t understand everything about how a cat’s memory works.

Some pet owners swear that their cat can remember both good and bad memories from years ago.

For instance, when it’s time to go to the vet, we owners usually get the cat carrier out of the closet.

Some cats take one look at that carrier and immediately hide.

Is it because they remember that they hate going to the vet?

Some scientists would say that it’s more likely the association of something bad paired with the cat carrier, rather than a specific memory of disliking a person or place.

Anxiety plays a huge role in cat behavior

If your cat seems to be holding a grudge against you or someone else in the home, it may be because of another reason.

Yes, cats can be moody and strange at times, but if they’re avoiding the litter box, rejecting food, hissing, and acting withdrawn, it’s likely not a grudge, but it could be a form of anxiety, which is more common than you may think.

About 60% of pet owners say that they have one pet with anxiety issues and almost 40% of owners have multiple pets who experience anxiety.

So, most likely if your cat seems to be acting spiteful, it’s probably not a grudge, but some form of anxiety.

Let’s say that you recently got married or moved in with a spouse. Before all this, it was just you and kitty against the world, but now they have to share you.

Some cats look at this as an opportunity to get two people to do things for them rather than one.

Others see this as an unwelcome invader in their territory.

If they think the new addition is imposing on their territory, cats may voice their displeasure by avoiding the litter box and possibly using one of your new mate’s shoes instead.

New sights and smells cause anxiety

If you cat is hissing or running away from your new partner, it might just be a case of new smells and new sounds.

If a man has moved in, he brings a lot of different scents and movements.

Men tend to walk heavier and make a bit more noise in the home, and kitty may not appreciate that at first.

Try to encourage your mate to be patient and kind with your cat.

You might also want to let the man take over the feedings for a while so your cat associates him with the joy they experience upon being fed.

Or if you normally give kitty treats at a certain time or for doing something good, let your partner give out the snacks.

Some cats won’t make an effort to like someone if they don’t have to.

But, if the cat is getting something out of the relationship (food, play, comfort), they start seeing that person as necessary.

Another fantastic way to reduce your cat’s stress and anxiety is pheromone therapy.

Pheromones are chemical signals associated with familiarity that your cat can smell in its environment.

It is common for veterinarians to spray pheromones in their offices to help cats feel more comfortable.

And you can do the same from home! Check out some the pheromone products we recommend below.


Cats don’t hold grudges like humans do because they don’t have the same spectrum of emotions as humans.

Instead, cats associate certain actions and behaviors with bad events and good events. Based on this association, they react differently.

Many cat behaviors remain mysteries, and their memory is no different.

Science can’t explain all aspects of a cat’s memory just yet, but the accepted wisdom seems to be that our complex friends don’t hold a grudge, at least not for long.

QUESTION: Does your cat run away when you bring out the carrier for the vet?

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7 Replies to “Do Cats Hold Grudges?”

  1. If I trip on my cat he will run from me for about an hour and the whole Time I am saying I am sorry after that they look for extra special sddional love to show them I love them or at least that’s how I feel

    1. Definitely. Max will refuse to come sleep with us or on the footrest ofy lounge chair for at least a week after he is boarded when we’ve gone on a trip. And it’s a great boarding facility. They treat him like their office kitty. He’s so sensitive he will hide if he sees the suitcase come out. Max definitely holds grudges.

  2. I had a cat that shredded paper napkins all over the kitchen. He was scolded for that. The next day he shredded not only all the napkins, but he also shredded the toilet paper in the bathroom and all tissues everywhere. We had bits of paper in every room and even the hallway!

  3. If I had to go out of town, Mumu would hide for two days after I returned. I only saw him when he needed to eat or use the facilities. I am certain he was doing his kitty laugh as I wandered around the house calling him and looking everywhere.

  4. Thank you so much for talking about this issue! My kitties, Susan and Rosie, always get upset when I give them their wet food at a different time. They don’t miss a beat! One will hide in the closet and the other under the bed to show they’re upset. I feel so bad but it helps to keep us all in routine. Good to know this happens to other fellow cat owners!

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