How Long Do Cats Stay Mad?

When it comes to our feline friends, we strive to stay on their good side. Which isn’t usually hard to do seeing as we often worship the ground their furry paws walk on. But, as we know, cats are highly intellectual beings who also happen to be temperamental at times. We know that cats can feel a wide range of emotions—with anger being one of them. So, as cat owners, it’s not an unnatural thing for us to wonder, “How long do cats stay mad?”

If you’ve ever wondered how long cats stay mad for—or even how to apologize to your cat, you’ve landed in the right place. Let’s take a closer look.

First, do cats hold grudges? Here’s what you need to know.

It’s a well-known fact that felines are not as forgiving as their canine counterparts, but we’ve grown to accept this and look to better understand the reasoning behind it. Many cat people have speculated if cats hold grudges, and it’s better first to understand how cat memory works.

Your cat’s memory is quite impressive. However, it’s been suggested by experts that the feline short-term memory can last upwards of 16 hours—while some debate this is even a stretch. (But, hey, they say a dog is five minutes so that just goes to show you just how smart cats are compared to dogs!) This also goes to show you why dogs do not possess the ability to hold grudges, it’s simply not in their nature or genetic makeup to do so.

Ideally, it’s safe to say that your cat could get over a mild wrongdoing in approximately a day. But an event that causes great fear and anger? Well, that has the potential to create a lasting memory that can trigger something deeper. And, this is especially true in cases where these events become routine/habit. Cats will associate events and experiences with their emotions—just like humans can.

You would never want to intentionally harm or scare your cat, and cats are individuals by nature. Something that could trigger one cat could leave another cat unphased. For example, cats and car rides do not typically go hand-in-hand. Now, let’s say that the only time your cat goes on a car ride they’re being taken to the vet. This creates a pattern in their mind, and they will learn to associate the car with the vet. Thus, creating a fear loop associated with all things car—and their disdain for it. So, that’s why you might find yourself with an angry cat on the way to the vet. Try to find ways to make what might be a negative experience for your cat more positive and you might have more success. Again, this can be hard to do so you might have to get creative. And, as they say, sometimes cats will just be cats!

Cats are not spiteful beings, despite what you’ve heard or have been told over the years…

As humans, we operate by moral codes and understand how to read the body language of other humans and act accordingly (well, most of us!). Unlike humans, cats are not bound by the same moral code. Yes, there are unspoken rules felines follow when living in homes or feral colonies together, but they do not have morals as we do. They don’t place value in objects or understand money so they cannot understand why a dirty house or a broken heirloom might upset us.

On the other hand, cats can recognize when we are angry or distraught. With that being said, take into account the length of time a cat remembers something from their short-term memory. So, if they send that coffee cup or vase flying, just know that they’re doing it to test their limits and explore gravity and not because they’re holding onto something that ticked them off two weeks ago.

If you feel like you have an “angry cat” it’s important to understand that cats are the masters of hiding their pain, and an angry cat can easily indicate a cat that is suffering in silence with a medical issue. Cats can’t tell us how they’re thinking or feeling—although we certainly wish they could. That’s why it’s our duty as dedicated cat moms and dads to note sudden changes in their behavior so that we can get them the help they need sooner.

Keep in mind that with cats, memory can come with age

Kittens sure are cute—and when it comes to felines, they’re the first to forgive and forget, too. While super senior cats can be prone to dementia, cats become wiser with age and shape their behavior on their life experiences. If you know your cat’s life before they entered yours, then this can give you valuable insight into why they act the way that they do. I’ve always felt that cats are some of the most misunderstood animals on the planet, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Taking the time to understand why cats are the way that they are can allow you to get along with them quite well even in trying circumstances.

For mature cats that are no longer kittens, they use their interactions with people, pets, and objects in their lives to show them what is safe, acceptable, and what to avoid. While cats do not always read our body language, it’s important to understand how to read theirs. Kittens grow into adult cats and learn to navigate the world by observing the body language of the cats around them. Your cat’s tail and ears serve as their main indicators of mood and are a quick method for determining what is going through their mind.

If you can sense that your cat is mad the most important thing you can do is to allow them space so they don’t feel threatened. Cats are quick to react when they feel they are being threatened, which can result in your cat showing you a side of them you didn’t know they even had. Back away and give them time, even if it’s difficult for you to do. Instead, if the reason your cat is angry has something to do with you, you can learn to apologize to them in a way they’ll understand. Here’s how.

Want to learn more about your cat’s memory? Read all about it here on

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