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How Long Does A Cat Hold A Grudge?

Cats make excellent meme material thanks to their weird and funny facial expressions. Don’t we all like it when a cat gets all grumpy?

After all, it’s cute, which is why we sometimes trigger it on purpose. 

That said, when your cat starts to act mad, you may worry about how long it would take her to return to her calm, serene, and normal state.

This article will tell you how long cats stay mad at you and what to do about it.  But first, let’s learn more about cats’ attitudes. There’s a lot to discover out there! 

How long do cats hold a grudge? 

Age plays a vital role in how long cats hold on to their anger. Because kittens have a relatively shorter memory than older cats, they don’t hold grudges for long. 

Unlike dogs, whose memory span lasts only five minutes, cats’ memory works for 16 hours. Accordingly, cats may stay mad for up to 16 hours, but generally, it takes a few hours before they forget and forgive. 

Sometimes, they may take a few days before they revert to their lovely and loving state. 

This may happen when you accidentally step on their tail or stumble over them or when they experience any traumatic incident.

Although you may think they are being grumpy and avoidant out of a grudge, that’s not the case. 

Cats remember traumatic events

Cats usually forget quickly, but if they’re still acting avoidant toward you, they’re likely anxious and trying to protect themselves to prevent the traumatic event from reoccurring.

Cats associate people and objects with either a positive experience or a negative one. Accordingly, depending on how you’ve interacted with them, they would either approach you or avoid you.

Things that your cat may forgive within a day

Cats are unpredictable; it is hard to tell if something will make them mad or how long it will take them to forgive you.

Also, every cat is different and may deal differently with anger, and take a shorter or longer time to forgive. 

Below are common behaviors cats usually forgive quickly:

Forced and overwhelming attention

You may think that excessively petting and cuddling your cat will make her feel loved and appreciated, but it may actually overwhelm her and trigger her anger.

Your cat needs her own time and space as you do, so keep a distance when you notice she’s avoiding you.

However, don’t totally ignore her. If she’s mad at you because you over-showered her with attention, she will typically come back to you within a day.

You lifted her up

Cats hate being lifted, and it may even be scary to them. Leave your cat the choice to approach you the way she prefers.

Lifting her may also make your cat feel restricted as she cannot move freely. Although she may start to avoid you, she will quickly tolerate you.

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However, if your cat experienced abusive behavior and associates it with being lifted, she may take longer to tolerate you.  

You hit her unintentionally

If you unintentionally hit your cat, it may take her about a day to forget and forgive. Your cat will know it was a mere accident and you didn’t intend to hurt her if it doesn’t occur regularly. 

Other things your cat may forgive within a day

Waking your cat up and depriving her of her deep sleep would make her mad at you, and may take a day for her to approach you again. If you care for your cat, let her sleep as much as she needs. 

Also, cats hate it when you touch their sensitive areas, such as the belly or paw pads. If she reacts negatively when you do so, and you don’t get the clue but keep touching her, she may avoid you for an entire day.  

Horrible things that your cat won’t forgive you for a few days 

Traumatic events and abusive behavioral patterns take your cat more than a day to forgive. 

Punishing your cat

Even if your cat is abnormally agitated and noisy, think twice before punishing her. She may classify the punishment as a negative experience that would take her days to recover. 

If you raise your voice or clap several times as punishment, your cat may feel abused and may avoid you for a few days until she feels safe again.  

Stepping on her tail

If you step on your cat’s tail, even accidentally, it may take her a few days before she tolerates it. 

Although your cat may know it’s just an incident, she still felt threatened and hurt and needs time to forget the pain and associate you with affection again.

Give her space and be gentle with her. Give her a few treats, and she will return to normal within a few days.

Recurring abuse 

Any form of repetitive abuse can make your cat avoid you for days. Even what may seem like a simple clap or a louder voice can be abusive for your cat if she associates it with punishment and negative emotions.

5 signs your cat is still angry at you

Signs Your Cat Is Still Angry at You

Here are some signs your cat may display if she’s still angry at you:

They’re avoiding you

The most noticeable and telling gesture is when your cat starts avoiding you.

When they’re mad at their owners, cats will leave the room or hide under your furniture and resist coming out even when you don’t stop calling for them. 

However, some cats are more distant and can spend quite some time without approaching you. If your cat is the reserved type, notice if they take more time than usual before they approach you again.

Changes in eating behavior

The next frequent gesture cats usually do when they’re mad is reject their favorite food.

The signature look

Another noticeable sign cats give when angry is their famous sharp look.

Even if you’re not a cat owner, you probably came across an annoyed cat on the internet or randomly in real life, and you do recognize that unsettling yet funny look.

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They make messes everywhere

If your cat starts peeing or pooping on your clean laundry, bed, or pillows, and you know they are healthy and clean, this may be a blunt expression of how angry they are. Sometimes, they would even bite you! 

Worry not, though, as it would rarely happen.

Subtle signs

The signs mentioned above are easy to spot, but there are subtle signs that tell when your cat is mad. These have to do mostly with their physical features. 

The first alarming subtle sign is when cats twitch the end of their tail. You will have to see your cat’s tail moving back and forth for some time before their anger finally fades away. 

Ever noticed that every now and then, your cat would get fluffier, bigger, and more intimidating as she crouches with an arched back? Although you may find it cute, that is actually your cat displaying its aggression.

Another subtle physical sign of cats’ anger is their ears getting flattened tight to the head, becoming more like airplane wings.

This also happens when they sense a threat and get scared, which is also part of their defensive mode. 

We all know that cats purr when they are calm, happy, and affectionate. However, it can also be another expression of their anger.

How to reconcile with your cat for her forgiveness

If your cat is in her angry mode, give her space for some time. If you rush in to try to pet her, she will keep avoiding you, and your attempts to pet her will only backfire on you, and you’ll end up being angry yourself!

So, you need to be smart and subtle!

Sit in a spot where your cat can see you. If your cat has a favorite blanket, pillow, toy, or any object, bring it closer to you without approaching her.

This way, she may come willingly. Prepare her favorite food during mealtime, always try to be close to her, but keep a distance. 

After giving your cat space, try to approach her cautiously. She may, by this time, react positively. 

After all, cats hate being ignored, and they can even get angrier if you ignore them for a long time. If she’s still distant, try speaking to your cat without getting too close.

Call her by her name without being too loud and try not to sound authoritative. Cats are generally most responsive to their names. As your cat responds, try playing with her with a toy hanging from a string.

Your cat is hopefully back to her loving and affectionate side by this time.  


Generally, cats don’t hold grudges for long. It will take your cats a few hours to come back to you, all loving and affectionate.

However, cats remember associations with negative emotions as traumatic events, especially if they keep reoccurring.

The more a negative incident reoccurs, the more traumatic it gets for your cat and the longer she takes to forgive you.