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Home > Cats > Can Cats Get Embarrassed? Vet Approved Feline Behavior Facts

Can Cats Get Embarrassed? Vet Approved Feline Behavior Facts

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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While cats are pretty good at letting us know if they are angry or scared (often in painful ways), other emotions they may feel can be harder to figure out. For example, can cats get embarrassed?

Although cats may display behaviors that seem to indicate embarrassment, there’s no reliable way to determine whether they truly feel this emotion the way that people do. We’ll discuss why it’s hard to know whether cats feel more complicated emotions like embarrassment in this article, as well as why it’s so easy for us to believe that they do.


When Cats Seem Embarrassed, What’s Really Going On?

To feel embarrassed as humans, we must have the ability to worry or be aware of what other people are thinking about us. When we do something embarrassing, the physical and mental reactions we experience are related to knowing others have witnessed our circumstances and are potentially judging or laughing at us.

It’s not clear whether cats have this same sense of awareness and are therefore able to feel embarrassed. If you catch your cat doing something they shouldn’t, they may display behavior that we would interpret as embarrassment. For instance, they may hide, cower, or run from the room.

Rather than a true feeling of embarrassment, these actions may indicate that your cat is aware that you’re not happy about their behavior, causing them to react to your emotions. Research indicates that cats can sense our moods and recognize emotional cues and signals.

With that knowledge, it makes sense that what you are witnessing is not embarrassment but your cat realizing, “Uh oh, mom’s mad that I chewed her phone charger, and I better get out of here!”

scared cat with his owner
Image by: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

Why We Think Cats Get Embarrassed

Humans who feel attached to their cats are more likely to believe they are feeling complex human emotions, according to a study from 2016. Believing that our pets experience the same feelings that we do may help us feel closer to them. It also may contribute to our tendency to share our own feelings and struggles with our cats, allowing us to think that they understand us.

It can be easy to attribute emotions like embarrassment to our cats if they find themselves in a situation that would make us turn red in the face. Because we would be embarrassed, we believe our cat must feel the same.

The belief that animals feel the same things as people is called anthropomorphism, which is quite common. Unfortunately, this can lead to some confusion regarding our pet’s behavior.

Cats don’t view the world the same way as humans, nor do they experience the same motivations for behavior. When cats misbehave or act out, we must treat them as animals and not humans as we try to solve their behavioral problems.



Traditionally, cats have a reputation for being cold, unfeeling creatures. We now know, from research and plenty of personal experiences, that cats experience many emotions and can form strong bonds with their owners. Just what those emotions are, however, isn’t always simple to uncover. You might feel embarrassed that you don’t know what your kitty is thinking, but that doesn’t mean they get embarrassed themselves.

Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

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