How Long Does a Cat Hold a Grudge?

How Long Does a Cat Hold a Grudge

If you’ve ever scolded your cat for scratching your sofa, have you ever wondered how long your cat might hold a grudge against you? They can certainly seem aloof with you, but what is the truth about cats getting over grudges. Here’s what I think… 

How long does a cat hold a grudge? Based on my experience, a cat can hold a grudge for a few hours. Scientists believe a cat can hold a grudge for 16 hours! It won’t tend to last longer than this. Some feline grudges might only last a few minutes. All cats are different though!

You cat’s grudge hopefully won’t last for more than a few hours. If you’re worried that your cat might stay mad at you for days, don’t be. These adorable creatures quickly forget you telling them off and should be grudge-free the moment you show interest in mending the friendship.

Of course, if you mistreat the cat frequently, that’s an altogether different story. But if you’re a good owner, how can cats stay mad at you for long! 

How long can a cat hold a grudge? 

OK, so there’s no doubt about it, cats can hold grudges: but just how long before your cat stops giving you the side-eye is an interesting test. For example, I have a friend who asked me if cats hold grudges for 16 hours – in my experience, no, that’s not a grudge, it might be fear!

If you’re a cat owner, you will confirm that cats have emotions. You’ve seen them annoyed, acting sad, feeling happy, looking scared — actions proving it’s normal for cats to show their emotional side. 

How long can a cat hold a grudge
Our cat once held a grudge for 2 hours because we had a baby!

A cat with a grudge is an emotional response, making it part of the different emotions a cat shows. 

Knowing that your cat wants nothing to do with you can be pretty upsetting. But it’s important to note that when a cat shows grudge-like reactions, it’s not a conscious choice. 

Let me I’ll explain more about them, and how long you can expect your cat to hold a grudge.

Cats that hold grudges

Look at us, for example. Before holding a grudge against someone, we make a choice. We weigh the other person’s actions and intentionally resent them because they’ve wronged us. 

Now, cats can’t make such a conscious decision. Unlike us, cats can’t deliberately pile up feelings of resentment.

So, even when your cat appears to be holding a grudge, know that the grudge is just an “in the moment” emotional reaction to a trigger, such as fearing that you might hit or yell at him again.

To our fur-laden friends, a grudge is less about what you’ve done (e.g., shouting at them) and more about not wanting to find themselves on the wrong side again.

If your cat gives you grudge-like signals, it won’t be for a prolonged period. In fact, it depends on how soon you, as the owner, act friendly towards it. 

While you’re thinking that your cat is avoiding you because it’s mad at you, always remember that it’s less of “I hate you” and more of “I’m afraid I might cross your path, and you’ll hit me again.”  

Does a cat hold a grudge
Our cat also held a grudge for 20 minutes when we got a puppy.

How to tell if your cat has a grudge against you

Cats are upfront about their feelings. Here’s how you can know whether your cat has a grudge against you:

  • Staying away from you longer than usual.
  • Watching you from a distance and not bother approaching you.
  • Hiding under the seat or behind walls when it sees you.
  • Making a throaty growl at you.
  • Staring at you with dilated pupils.
  • Doesn’t want to play with its favorite mouse toy.
  • Appears unusually fluffy with its tail looking bushy.
  • Twitching its tail from side to side.
  • Saying no to its favorite meal.

Psychologists from the University of Michigan did a small experiment and found that a cat’s short-term memory lasts about 16 hours. That’s a long time in animal terms, and means it could actually be possible for cat to hold a grudge for as long as 16 hours!

A cat’s memory can last as long as 16 hours compared to a dog’s memory, which typically lasts no more than 5 minutes, according to research at the University of Michigan. What’s more, researchers at Tufts University found the structure of cat brains to be similar to humans. Cats have the same lobes in the cerebral cortex (the “seat” of intelligence) as humans. Cat owners aren’t surprised. They’ll tell you their cats remind them when it’s mealtime, are able to open doors, and use body language to communicate. And yes, some cats are still perturbed (hours later) for something like being shooed off the sofa.

What does this mean in simple terms?

That cats can hold events in their short-term memories for a whopping 16 hours! 

So, if you punish your cat, that incident will most likely replay in the cat’s short-term memory for 16 hours. When you hit it for scratching your leather sofa, be sure it won’t repeat that action in the next 16 hours.

After the lapse of these hours, your cat will have stopped dwelling on that event, ready for its next mistake. 

But as mentioned earlier, a cat doesn’t prolong a grudge. You may have yelled at it for scratching your sofa. But as soon as you throw it a piece of your tuna sandwich, it won’t hesitate to curl up next to you on the couch. 

What does this imply? 

That you can make up with your cat in minutes — meaning a cat won’t hold a grudge for 16 hours just because that’s their short-term memory. 

Here’s what we can both agree on: you’re in control of how long your cat gives you the cold shoulder. When you choose to act friendly immediately, your cat will forget that it screwed up, and you’ll continue being its favorite person. 

Cats sense when you’re in a better mood. Act nice as soon as possible, and your cat will let go of the fact that you hit the hell out of him with a wooden spoon or chased him out of the house for ruining seats. 

So the good news here is, cats can forgive and forget in minutes. If the grudge-like attitude extends for days, that’s a sign that something’s wrong with your cat— something more than how you reacted towards it.

Cats also have impressive long-term memory. 

Your cat will remember the big cat that stole its piece of meat during hunting time three years ago. And this will be another level of grudge. 

How will you know? It will growl anytime the big cat shows up to give company.  

Do cats get over grudges
My cat held a grudge for 2 minutes when I didn’t share my snacks.

How to earn your cat’s affection minutes after a nasty confrontation

You’ve yelled at the top of your voice at your cat. Once you’ve calmed down, you realize how terrible you acted. 

What can you do to make the friendship with your cat get back to normal?

Good thing is, cats are easy to please. You don’t have to do anything extraordinary to stop them from holding the grudge. 

Obviously, a cat won’t know that’s your way of apologizing for reacting angrily towards it. Cats can’t read into the intent of our sudden friendly behavior. But it can judge that you mean no harm when you start acting friendly. 

What matters here is making your cat feel like it doesn’t have to withdraw from you anymore.  

Wondering how to do this? Don’t worry. I’ll walk you through it.

  1. Be patient with your cat

Don’t rush to pick it up and swing it around doing the happy reunion dance. 

What you need to do is to take it slow — and this includes giving your cat space until it’s in the mood. You’ll know the cat isn’t feeling your vibe when it squirms as you’re lifting it.

  1. Give it a soothing touch as you speak to it in a low, calm tone

How about a gentle scratch on its chin area or between the ears?  You can also brush its back in slow strokes. 

Take this as the quickest way to your cat’s heart after a fight. 

  1. Playtime will save the day

Show your cat that you’re in the mood for playtime. Use its favorite toy to tease him into playing with you. 

Playtime will make your cat forget that you two were enemies minutes ago.

  1. Treat it to its favorite snack

Sometimes, the way to a cat’s heart after a fight is through its taste buds. 

Call your cat by its pet name and once it comes running to you, pour its favorite meal in the bowl.  

Try these tactics, and you’ll have a happy ending with your furry friend. In no time, your cat will start following you around the house as it used to, rolling over in excitement, rubbing its face on your leg — name them.

Do cats get over grudges?

Yes, they do. Cats don’t hold onto grudges for long. The moment you start showering them with affection again, and food of course, they will get over the grudge against you.                     

Do cats forgive their owners?

Cats are forgiving creatures. Once you’ve made the effort to show that you’re sorry for how you acted towards it, a cat won’t hold anything against you. 

Do cats hold grudges for 16 hours?

Sure, a cat’s short term memory may be 16 hours. But it’s unlikely that a cat will hold a grudge for that long. Most times, a cat will hold a grudge for a few minutes (it stops as soon as you start acting nice towards it)

How long can a cat stay mad at you?

It depends on how soon you try to reconcile with the cat. 


In conclusion, most cats won’t hold grudges too long, unless it’s sustained abusive and neglectful behavior from the owner. Cats will soon forgive and forget and get over a grudge, particularly on the offer of food and love!

You might also like…

Cat with a grudge image in header via

Categorized as Cats