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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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Wednesday 8th of December 2021

Oh my gosh my cat holds a big big grudge because my boyfriend and I been together 11years and we have had my cat for 10 years lol he had a phone on a fold up table and my cat was a kitten lol she wouldn't walk on floor she would just jump to things lol and well she would not let him touch her head or pick her up Nothing if he wants to pet her she wants me mommy to touch her too lol

Pat Niemin

Tuesday 27th of October 2020

Some cats most certainly do hold long time grudges, and get even. When I was young, I rescued a perhaps 12 week old kitten from under our car where the German Shepard from down the block had trapped it. The dog was snarling and barking up a storm which was what first notified me of something wrong. When I looked under the car and saw this terrified shaking ball of gray fur I chased the dog away. Getting the kitten out from under the car was another story. It was bitterly cold outside, and I had gloves on, but the kitten scratched, and bit, when I tried to reach for her. I ended up putting on several pairs of mittens on top of my gloves to protect my hands and then managed to retrieve her out of the snow and ice. So she earned the name of Mittens. She was wild and scrawny, but quickly adjusted to being in the warmth with food readily available and she decided to stay and become our family pet. By the time she had grown into a full sized young adult of a pretty good size she loved to sit and watch my dad as he was renovating our porch and enclosing it. The one day, I happened to come out of the house and saw the cat at the end of our house sidewalk acting very strangely. She was sort of prancing and meowing in a way that was almost like singing, and in general not acting like herself. In the midst of her odd behavior, I suddenly heard the German Shepard from the end of the block ferociously barking and the sound was coming nearer. When I would have run out to her and grabbed her to protect her from the dog, my dad grabbed my arm and whispered "wait, she is up to something". So I reluctantly did as he asked. She would pause here and there and look towards the barking dog, and then continue to do her enticing prance, and vocalizations. When the dog was only a little over a house length away, she slowly came back inside of our bushes. Both our house and the next door neighbors had bushes across the fronts of our property. and there was a row of very thorny rosebushes that separated our properties with just a small gap between our neighbors house and the end of the rose bushes, and the bushes circled the rest of her front lawn all the way up to their house forming a nearly complete enclosure. If I had not seen it myself, I would not have believed it, but our cat purposely waited in the opening long enough to make sure the dog saw her enter. The bushes were thick enough to make the area pretty much a near total enclosure with only that tiny space as the means of getting in or out, and the dog went in at a semi-run after the cat. Then before our eyes, we watched the cat move in front of the only opening, and her back arched, the fur rose up in the ridge down her back bone, and the most terrifying almost snarling screech came out of her throat, as the dog spun around to try and find her, only to be confronted by this horrifying specter. The dogs ears went back flat against his head, and he sort of squatted a bit, looking about for some way out of there, and then the cat struck. It was almost like slow motion as she leaped into the air, all paws extended with her claws extended from her paws, and landed square on the dogs back, digging her claws in as she did. The dog in an effort to escape, has just started to try and push his way through the thick bushes just as the cat landed, and actually made it through the brambles, with the cat hanging on every inch of the way. You could hear the dog yowling in terror and pain all the way down the block, with the cat clinging to it's back for most of the way. Half a minute later, our cat was back, puffed up chest and prancing up to our house with her head held high and victorious. She had enacted her revenge upon the bully of a dog from down the block that had nearly torn her apart as a kitten. I never saw her have any reaction to any other animal before or after other than that one dog, and after that day, the dog never came any where near our house. My dad after that, adopted the cat as his own personal buddy and went so far as to purchase fish by the box full and fry the cat a fish every morning for breakfast. Needless to say, the cat became Dad's constant companion when he was home, and thought the sun rose and set with him.


Saturday 30th of January 2021

Excellent story. I'm so glad I took the time to read it. And very well written... you should write a book of cat stories.


Monday 30th of November 2020

I love this story, and you are a very good writer by the way.


Monday 30th of November 2020

I love this story, and you are a very good writer by the way. Thank you for sharing.


Sunday 28th of June 2020

I never felt that my cats held grudges If they had one it wasn't for any length of time and things were fine.


Saturday 11th of April 2020

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!

Barbara Dorlaque

Friday 15th of November 2019

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.