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Home > General > How Do Cats Say Sorry? 9 Common Gestures

How Do Cats Say Sorry? 9 Common Gestures

cat looking man's chin

It turns out that our aloof little felines are capable of apologizing. While they may not be crippled with guilt, they will still attempt to say sorry or let you know that they still care about you with subtle but sweet gestures.

If your cat has wronged you, it may not even be aware, but the change in energy, voice tone, and body language are enough to send a message that you are not okay with what just happened. To get you back to your happy self again, your pet may perform various gestures to improve your mood and essentially earn your forgiveness.


First of All, Are Cats Capable of Apologizing?

Cats are incapable of apologizing per se since that would mean they feel the complex human emotion of guilt, which we know they don’t. When your cat shows affection toward you after acting badly, it’s because it’s upset by your response and needs your company to feel better. It can also be annoyed by your response and demand a different one from you.

This may come across as a little manipulative on their end, but they are intelligent beings. However, the fact that they can show this level of care and concern for you to notice them may be enough to reveal that they do care, never mind the cuddles and affection you receive on a rare basis.

We can’t be too offended, given that cats are self-sustaining and territorial and can typically live without humans. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t form emotional bonds. Cats love their humans, but they may just show it in funny ways. So while they don’t apologize because they feel guilty, they will show affectionate behavior after your negative response to get a more cheerful reaction from you.

Your cat’s personality will depend on how they apologize and what gestures they use.

The 9 Common Cat Gestures

1. Purring

The most effective way for a human to apologize is by using their voice. A verbal apology is the most respectful and effective way to voice our remorse and make it right. It may be the same for our cats.

While our feline friends can’t speak words that we understand, they are verbal enough to relay a feeling. Purring is one of the most common vocalizations a cat will make when apologizing. If you hear your cat purring more than usual after doing something wrong, it could be attempting to apologize.

white cat purring
Image By: AleksDaria, Shutterstock

2. Head Butting or Rubbing

When cats rub up on us, they leave their scent behind to “mark’ us as a way to claim us. They can rub up against you, leaving their scent as a way of apologizing. They also do something called bunting, which is headbutting. This gesture you may have noticed with your cat before is usually associated with a happy and friendly cat. Headbutting and rubbing against you is another gesture they use to say sorry.

3. Blinking Slowly

Ah, the slow blink of a cat is equivalent to puppy eyes that make a cat owner incapable of staying mad. A slow blink indicates that your cat is calm and feels content. So if your cat gazes at you and delivers a slow blink after it shatters the pot of an indoor plant, it may be attempting to say sorry.

cat owner talking to his pet
Image By: Piqsels

4. Walking Towards You

If your cat is walking toward you, it is a clear sign that it wants your attention. Especially if your cat is generally aloof, walking toward you with positive body language may be the start of an apology. It also shows that it is not trying to avoid you and is perhaps hoping for attention.

5. Grooming You

Cats will groom their owners to show affection; if your pet is grooming you, it may be trying to apologize. Grooming between cats is also a way to show affection and strengthen bonds. By grooming its owner, your cat is trying to strengthen your bond, especially given the situation, and nurture your relationship.

cat licks on the nose of a young man
Image By: Julija Sulkovska, Shutterstock

6. Kneading With Their Paws

Kneading is a clear sign of feline affection. When a cat kneads you, it pushes its paws into you like it used to do with its mother before feeding. It can also be a sign of stress, and kneading is a soothing way to feel calm. If your negative response has caused a little stress for your cat, the kneading will be both soothing and a way to apologize.

7. They May Initiate Playtime

Playtime with your cat is one of the ways you strengthen and affirm your bond. If your cat has a favorite toy that you both enjoy playing with together, your cat may begin to play with the toy in an attempt to catch your attention, soften you up, and initiate some playtime that will inevitably result in your forgiveness.

persian cat playing with feather toy
Image By: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

8. Exposing Their Stomachs

The most vulnerable area of a cat’s body is its stomach, so when it exposes its stomach, it shows you that it trusts you. Being vulnerable and showing trust may be one of the best ways to say sorry. Showing vulnerability is the ultimate apology.

9. Your Cat May Bring You a Gift

Your cat may bring you a gift in the form of a bird or mouse, which ironically may have been the thing that made you mad in the first place. Cats usually bring their prey to where they feel safe and secure because they want to share their catch with you.

It is also a clear way to get your attention, and at the end of the day, that’s what they want. However, they can’t foresee that the attention may be negative! They just want to bring you a gift.

cat carrying a dead mouse
Image By: Markos-Loizou, Shutterstock



Cats have been around humans for many years, and your cat has probably been around you long enough to know what gets your attention. If your cat has done something to cause a bad response from you, it may use its effective gestures to get your attention again, which is essentially its way of apologizing.

Your cat knows when you are upset but won’t feel guilt like we do; instead, its apology is an attempt to reconnect. Your cat will do things it knows will get a reaction, such as purring, headbutting, grooming, and of course, cuddles.

Featured Image Credit: Magui RF, Shutterstock

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