How Long Does a Cat Hold a Grudge?

How Long Does a Cat Hold a Grudge

This is a topic that has received a significant amount of attention from researchers (study on episodic memory), and it is really tied to the memory ability of cats as well as the structure of their brains. As is the case with a great deal of other things, humans observe animal behavior and attempt to translate it into human terms. In fact, cats do not actually harbor resentment against others, despite the fact that their behaviors often give the impression that they do.

Cats are highly practical creatures. Whenever they do anything, you can be confident without a shadow of a doubt that it is for some aspect of their own self-interest. Consuming food and engaging in play are two activities that serve as examples of this. Consuming food is both a biological need and a behavior that fulfills hunger. Simply said, playing brings out the best in them.

The Capacity of Cat Memory

Before we can rationally debate the issue of holding grudges, we need to have a solid understanding of how the cat stores memories. After all, for the cat to harbor anger towards the transgressor, it would need a recollection of some previous wrongdoing.

Now, let’s pretend, for the sake of argument, that you are standing on the end of a cat’s tail. If you give the impression that you are aware of your mistake and make up for it, the cat will disregard the incident as insignificant. It will keep the event in the memory of its short-term storage for about 16 hours.

If you refrain from committing the same crime during that period of time, the cat will most likely forget about it. If you do it again, the cat may acquire the opinion that you are someone who often causes it pain, and it will store this information in its long-term memory so that it may recall it if it ever comes into contact with you again. This might be a factor in its decision to avoid you in the future. This long term memory may last a lifetime.

Because the cat is fed by you on a regular basis, the one-time mishap is offset by the fact that you provide food for it; hence, it is not in the cat’s best interest to concentrate on that occurrence, and it is therefore forgotten.

It’s interesting to note that whereas cats do posses a short-term memory that lasts for 16 hours, dogs only have a memory that lasts for two minutes before they forget one-time events. The dog is able to make up for this by using other memories that are more specialized. It is because of this distinct difference in their memory structures that it seems that cats harbor resentment more than dogs do.

No Resentment

When discussing feline companions, “grievance” is perhaps not the most appropriate word to use. A grudge implies some level of bitterness as well as a judgment on the intentions of the person who has committed the transgression.

When a cat moves information regarding repeated behaviors performed by a person from its short-term memory to its long-term memory, it does so only for the purpose of improving its chances of survival. It recalls that a specific person has a pattern of injuring it, and in order for the cat to prevent more harm to itself, it takes precautions to ensure that the pattern does not continue.

The presence of resentment in a cat suggests that the feline has contemplated the reasons behind the human’s actions and formed an opinion on the moral character of the person in question. It does not retain ill will against the person; rather, it is made aware that it must be on the lookout for such occurrences in the future.

Cat training human to give it food


If the human expresses regret and refrains from repeating the behaviors that caused the cat harm, then the information stored in the cat’s long-term memory will be changed. This, in turn, will lead to a gradual decrease in the threat level, and the cat will no longer appear to harbor resentment toward the human. This will take repeated instances of meetings where no bad behavior occurred.

Survival instincts

Survival is deeply ingrained into the mental makeup of a cat. In view of this, it makes perfect sense for a cat to remember events that caused it pain or it found distressing. Just to demonstrate this, let’s remove humans from the equation for a moment. Have you noticed that when a cat establishes that certain areas have unfriendly cats, it will typically avoid those areas, since to do so improves its chances of survival without injury.


Cats typically issue fair warning to people that upset it, and when that warning is ignored, the cat understandably thinks that the action is a deliberate one designed to hurt it.These warnings include:

  • Keeping its distance from you
  • Leaving the room when it sees you enter
  • Swishing its tail, the lower the more serious the warning.
  • Pinning its ears agait its head.
  • Staring at you with dilated pupils
  • The hair on the tail standing up.
  • Arching its back as it stares at you.
  • Verbal warnings, such as growling or even hissing.
  • Swing at you with its claws open.

Actions Which Will Anger Your Cat

Some examples of things that may make your cat angry are picking it up and holding it when it does not signal that it is ok.

  • Causing Pain, as our example of standing on a tail.
  • Stroking your cat against the direction of the fur.

Other things which the cat may regard as a failure in carrying out your duties, can also cause it to be annoyed.

  • You failed to clean its litter box
  • You moved the furniture round
  • Not sticking to a routine
  • Not providing attention when it demands it

We see from this that your cat sees the world as being there to pander to its needs. If you fail to take care of it adequately, It will note your failure and punish you until you rectify your bad behavior.

Final Thought

How long does a cat hold a grudge? Well, you can see from the above article that your cat is not so much holding a grudge but simply communicating its feelings to you. You could say by showing a less favorable response to you, it is endeavoring to train you to carry out your role better.

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