Cats typically don’t hold grudges the same way people do. They don’t have the same social concepts that people do, which prevents them from holding grudges. Therefore, the question really isn’t “How long does a cat hold a grudge?” Instead, you should ask “Why does it seem like my cat is holding a grudge?”
After a negative situation or experience, cats may start associating certain triggers with those negative feelings. These can lead to the cat reacting negatively to something that they may not have in the past. In this way, it can seem like your cat is holding a grudge (especially if you are the trigger). It’s important not to personify cats and other pets when caring for them. Trying to put human emotions on our pets can make us believe the wrong things about their inner workings, leading to us treating their behaviors improperly.
If your cat is having trouble after a negative event, there are several things you can do to help them. These behaviors are more about training and socialization, though—not so much about “making up”.
The 5 Ways to Make Peace with Your Cat
1. Identify the Cause
If your cat is avoiding you and otherwise acting like they’re holding a grudge, it is probably a sign that they are fearful or stressed about something. While they may be avoiding you, that may not necessarily mean that it is you, specifically. Instead, it’s important to take stock of what has changed recently, and if your feline has experienced anything potentially negative lately.
For instance, if you recently switched shampoo, your cat could just really not like the smell of your new one. In the same vein, if you’ve switched jobs, your cat may suddenly smell your new workplace in you—and they may not like it! There are many things that we may not consider negative at all, but they may stress our cat out a lot.
Sometimes, the stressful thing may have absolutely nothing to do with you at all. Some cats may avoid everyone when they are stressed. Increased hiding is a very common sign that your cat is stressed. So, just because your cat isn’t cuddling with you as much, doesn’t mean that they’re specifically mad at you. It’s likely a sign of stress. Once you figure out the cause, you can start helping your cat cope with the stress.
2. Create a Safe Place
No matter why your cat is stressed, their behavior may improve once they feel a bit safer. You can help them feel safe by creating a safe place they can escape to. Preferably, they should always have an enclosed space that remains relatively quiet and isn’t disturbed by anyone. This space provides your cat with somewhere to decompress, which can be exceedingly helpful.
Make sure your cat can access all the essentials they need in this little area. Their litter box and food shouldn’t be too far away. While you don’t need to force your cat to stay in this area, they should always have access. Everyone in the home should know that the cat isn’t to be disturbed when they are in their quiet spot.
3. Provide More Enrichment
Just like people, cats can become stressed whenever they are bored. When your cat is bored, they have more time to worry. They may lay around with their mind just running because it isn’t tired out. They may stress about things that they absolutely don’t need to stress about, like the neighbor’s cat outside.
Therefore, toys and other enrichment activities can help your cat keep their mind off of their stressors. Different cats need more exercise than others, but all cats benefit from several enrichment options. You may purchase a few different kinds of interactive toys and a scratching post, for instance. Cat trees are very popular because they provide several kinds of enrichment in one unit.
If your cat belongs to a smarter breed, puzzle toys may be a solid option. These can keep your cat’s mind busy so that it doesn’t wander to stressful topics.
4. Litter Box Management
Cats can be very particular about their litter box. If their litter box isn’t clean, they may become stressed, which can make them hide instead of playing with you. Therefore, you should ensure that their litter box is kept properly cleaned as much as possible.
Preferably, you should scoop their box at least once a day. Some cats may need it more, though, especially if several cats are using the same box. You should also completely change the litter every week to every few weeks. Cats can be picky about the kind of litter box available, too. Some may only like particular kinds of litter, for instance.
If your cat isn’t using the litter box properly, it’s a pretty good sign that they may need some of the parameters adjusted. Once they know that they have somewhere safe to use the bathroom, they’ll be much more likely to calm down and quit avoiding you.
5. Seek Veterinary Care
Cats are very good at hiding their illnesses. In the wild, this allowed them to avoid being picked on by predators and other cats. However, in our homes, it can get in the way of them getting veterinary care.
Many of the signs that your cat is sick may also make it seem like they’re holding a grudge against you. For instance, they may hide more and not want to be touched. If you don’t have an in-depth understanding of cat behavior, you could think they’re holding a grudge! If your cat is exhibiting these behaviors, we highly recommend going to your vet for an assessment. It’s important to rule out potential health issues that may be the underlying cause of your cat’s behavior.
Cats don’t really hold grudges. They don’t have the same social concepts that people do. For instance, they don’t have a concept of someone owing someone else something. Therefore, they can’t think “I’m going to avoid them because they were mean to me and they deserve it!”
Therefore, if it seems that your cat is holding a grudge, it’s likely because they are stressed. This may be due to a particular situation that has to do with you, or it can be something completely random. Either way, you can help your cat deal with this stress in many different ways.
For instance, you can provide them with a safe, quiet place to destress. You may also want to get them a vet appointment if their behavior seems particularly strange or you have no idea why they are stressed.
Once the underlying cause is fixed, your feline should start acting like themselves again.
Featured Image Credit: Anna Kraynova, Shutterstock