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Can cats actually get mad?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I have read numerous times that cats cannot have human emotions such as the human emotion of being mad at somebody. I have also read that cats have no concept of time; if you leave for work and come back ten hours later they will be just as glad to see you as if you had been gone for ten days. So the experts have always told me. But here on TCS people are always talking about their cat(s) getting mad at them.

I wonder if being mad is like the mad emotion in humans. Being normal, I occasionally get mad at my spouse. And of course there are times when she gets mad at me. The length of time that each would be mad at the other would depend on the "crime". Here is my input on the subject.

I brush and comb Persi every morning but there are still times when I hit a snag. Determined to get the snag out before it becomes worse, I continue combing/brushing until I get it out, knowing it will be worse tomorrow if I do not. This action on my part makes Persi very "mad" at me and he will in fact threaten to do me harm. Now here is where being mad and the concept of a time frame come together: When I am done with the grooming session he will head into the walk in closet where his tent is located and he will get into the tent "mad" at me. There can be no doubt in my mind he is mad at me.

The next thing on my agenda is to come down here in my office where it is very rare that Persi does not join me. Today is such a day. No Persi. He did not even come down to share my roast beef sandwich today at lunch time. You know this guy is really mad at me. He is still up there in his tent. In a few hours it will be dinner time. He has never failed to get over being mad by dinner time and will come downstairs where he will remain the rest of the evening.

Has he actually been feeling the emotion us humans call mad? Does he have a concept of time for how long he will stay mad? (When he gets mad it seems he stays mad longer some times more than others.)

So, what do you think about this subject as it pertains to your cats?
post #2 of 26
I don't know if I would use the word "mad," but they definitely get annoyed with us--and show it. My former cat would get annoyed whenever I went away, and she showed it by greeting me when I returned but then immediately disappearing for a few hours. That was to show me that she did fine without me and would continue to do so! It was usually two or three hours before she reappeared. So they seem to have some sense of time.

Whenever I'm away, I'm always hoping that they don't have a sense of time and will just think that I've gone out for the mail. But the reaction when I return suggests that they indeed know that I've been gone more than I should have been (they probably count their feedings:-)
post #3 of 26
Do cats get mad?

Some do, I'm sure of that. I haven't ever seen Fawn mad -- I don't think it's in her nature. She's a funloving perpetual kitten.

Cindy is a totally different story. If she doesn't get her usual goodbye when I "Go to catch mousies", i.e. go to work, I can count on a cold shoulder when I get home 10 hours later. And she will make very sure I understand that she IS avoiding ME, by making a large fuss over Daddy. This "discipline" can go on for a couple of hours or more, but she's usually over her mad by bedtime. She also is quite capable of stomping out of a room or down the stairs -- ordinarily as softfooted as any cat, but when she's POd, she stomps, and it's audible. I swear she'd slam doors if she cared to bother with them.

Shasta (RB) was like that, too. But as I consider the rest of our clan over the years, I think these are the only two who could really be said to get mad. Everyone shows momentary annoyance once in a while, if a human does something dumb, but that's about it.
post #4 of 26
Hallo!
I disagree with this: "you leave for work and come back ten hours later they will be just as glad to see you as if you had been gone for ten days"

If i leave my cat for 10 days she will be offended for several days after my arrival, she will not talk to me and say meow!!! She will not smapts her feet on my hair and blow saliva ( sorry if incorrect spelling) for a while..

I can't say "mad", but i think cats have real emotions rather close to human ones .
post #5 of 26
I think cats have a very wide range of emotions. The problem I have is when people post here saying that their cat is mad so it peed on the bed. I don't think they express their anger by peeing or pooping out of the box.

I'm not aware of any of our cats being mad at us, per se. Annoyed, definitely. Flowerbelle, when annoyed that we won't play with her when she wants to will stand on a table and push things off of it. Tuxedo, when annoyed with having his nails clipped, will swat (hard), bite (soft) and bolt - and not come back out until dinner.

I think they have a sense of time, but measure it differently. It's in relation to the routine to which they become accustomed, whatever that is. Dinner time, when we leave or come home from work, play time - whatever schedules/routines we keep in relation to them. They DEFINITELY know when dinner is late!

I read somewhere on TCS to never make a big deal about leaving or arriving, so we never did, so our kitties, anyway, never get mad at us for being gone longer than usual or in any "out of routine" kind of way. And because the few times we've had to leave town we boarded them (don't have family or friends near enough to care for them), they were just so happy to be home, they weren't mad.

But I think they ARE capable of getting mad, and I think they do have a sense of time passing.

Laurie
post #6 of 26
Here is a pic when I interrupted Maggie's bug hunting by taking several pictures of her. What does the expression on her face tell you about cat's getting mad/annoyed?



Isn't their range of emotions why we love them so much?
post #7 of 26
I would be mad at you if you continued to yank my hair out when you knew you were hurting me. there is probably a less painful way for the knots. It reminds me of my mother who used to yank my hair out when she combed it (no tame then) and she would just keep yanking at the tangles and when I would cry she would say"I/m not hurting you". What is it about hissing and squirming that you don't understand?
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by tamgirl99 View Post
Here is a pic when I interrupted Maggie's bug hunting by taking several pictures of her. What does the expression on her face tell you about cat's getting mad/annoyed?



Isn't their range of emotions why we love them so much?
That perfectly illustrates your answer to the question!

Laurie
post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wine_Black View Post
Hallo!
I disagree with this: "you leave for work and come back ten hours later they will be just as glad to see you as if you had been gone for ten days"

If i leave my cat for 10 days she will be offended for several days after my arrival, she will not talk to me and say meow!!! She will not smapts her feet on my hair and blow saliva ( sorry if incorrect spelling) for a while..

I can't say "mad", but i think cats have real emotions rather close to human ones .
I went to Kansas for 8 days and a neighbor, fellow cat lover, watched Maia for me. She came by twice a day and Maia never made a peep, or let herself be seen. When I came home, Maia was crying before I entered the front door, I was calling her as I entered and she kept crying but I didn't know where she was! I panicked thinking she was in a closet or outside the backdoor, I kept calling her and she kept crying but I couldn't figure out where she was! I finally looked under the bed and there she was crying out in despair. I had to reach under and scoop her out, hug and kiss her as I kitty spooned her promising I would never leave her like that again! I have never felt so much guilt! Thank god she didn't hold it against me, once I reassured her I was really back for good, she settled down.
post #10 of 26
Mad? Certainly. They get darned jealous too!
post #11 of 26
cheylink
oh ! poor kitty! she was suffering of your departure!
Hope she is ok now!
People say that the cats don't accomodate us, like the dogs do. I don't agree with this claim.
When I leave my cat by mum, she is "out-of-body"....

Forensic

and jealous too!!

tamgirl99
cool pic! your cat is angry that you've interrupted her so important work!!!
post #12 of 26
Sunny most certainly gets mad at us He will stay mad for up to 30 minutes. Sunny is a cute kitten and we love him dearly. He's so fluffy that we like to hold him - that's fine for 2-3 minutes. If you go over that time then put him down he goes for the ankles. We then go about our business unaware that he's still angry and 20 minutes later, we're pulling him off of our ankles. He dive bombs the ankles until he's got it out of his system. He's sooooo lucky we love him!
post #13 of 26
Riley definitely gets mad at me quite often As for his sense of time, he knows when I come home from work he gets fed. However on the weekends, he will come to me at the exact same time, 5:00 and ask for his food. Same with mornings, he will wake me up on the weekends at "breakfast time". Not before, not after, but right at the same time he usually gets fed.

When I was gone for a week last year, he wouldn't have anything to do with me for days.

Xander is completely different. He's just a big mellow guy that eats when you feed him and doesn't cry if you're 10 minutes late. He also doesn't get mad or hold a grudge like Riley does. He's always happy for attention and petting no matter what.
post #14 of 26
I would have to say that MY cat definitely gets mad at me. Lucky for me, he doesn't hold grudges, but he does get annoyed. I have known some cats to hold grudges for up to a week, and it usually has to do with their owner leaving for an extended period of time.
post #15 of 26

I'm having a problem with Daffodil getting angry when I simply leave our apartment for any more than 30 minutes (to go to the YMCA or to run errands instead of just running out to the store).  If all I do is run out to the grocery or a store, all is well when I return.  However, if I leave for a few hours, when I return, Daffodil will meet me at the door, rub against my legs letting me know that she's glad that I'm back, and after I reach down and pet her and say "Hi, Daffodil!", the mood turns ugly.  She'll run a few steps away from me, turns to me, then hisses and growls at me.  Sometimes immediately afterwards she'll run under the table in the living room, look at me, and growl.  It doesn't stop there.  If I try to ignore her, she'll walk into the bedroom, then about 30 seconds later, come out, look at me, and hiss.  When that doesn't work, she'll jump up in the recliner on the other side of the table in the living room, and continue letting me know her displeasure with me from there.  Is there anything that anyone knows of that I could do to either make her more comfortable or keep her more calm while I'm out?  I've tried leaving the TV on while I"m gone, but no go.  Help!

post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavis1231 View Post
 

I'm having a problem with Daffodil getting angry when I simply leave our apartment for any more than 30 minutes (to go to the YMCA or to run errands instead of just running out to the store).  If all I do is run out to the grocery or a store, all is well when I return.  However, if I leave for a few hours, when I return, Daffodil will meet me at the door, rub against my legs letting me know that she's glad that I'm back, and after I reach down and pet her and say "Hi, Daffodil!", the mood turns ugly.  She'll run a few steps away from me, turns to me, then hisses and growls at me.  Sometimes immediately afterwards she'll run under the table in the living room, look at me, and growl.  It doesn't stop there.  If I try to ignore her, she'll walk into the bedroom, then about 30 seconds later, come out, look at me, and hiss.  When that doesn't work, she'll jump up in the recliner on the other side of the table in the living room, and continue letting me know her displeasure with me from there.  Is there anything that anyone knows of that I could do to either make her more comfortable or keep her more calm while I'm out?  I've tried leaving the TV on while I"m gone, but no go.  Help!

Welcome to TCS. You have posted to a thread that has been dormant for 4 years; sometimes posts at the end of these threads get overlooked, so you are welcome to start a new thread if you'd like. :)  Cats don't get mad; in my experience. They act only out of instinct or habit. She is just reacting to your absence and return. She wants to love you and at the same time, she wants you to know that you upset her routine. :nod:

post #17 of 26

Can cats actually get mad?

I disagree with your response. I just returned from a few days away for the holidays and I can say with utmost certainty that my usually ridiculously loving ragdoll is highly mad. She is currently hiding under my bed and will hiss and scratch if I even peer under the bed. This NEVER happens. She is acting out. One could most certainly equate that with anger or disappointment. She obviously was feeling abandoned and is definitely letting me know about it. 

post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by fonkeemonkee View Post
 

I disagree with your response. I just returned from a few days away for the holidays and I can say with utmost certainty that my usually ridiculously loving ragdoll is highly mad. She is currently hiding under my bed and will hiss and scratch if I even peer under the bed. This NEVER happens. She is acting out. One could most certainly equate that with anger or disappointment. She obviously was feeling abandoned and is definitely letting me know about it. 


It is not anger or disappointment. It is fear. Cats have very short memories, and you are now seen as a new experience to her. Give her a few days to get used to you again and she will go back to the loving cat she used to be. Don't bother her when she is under the bed, that will set the process back several steps.

 

Of course, this is only my personal observation from 25 years of multi-cat ownership and over 50 years of having cats around. :)

post #19 of 26

My cat, with his apparent very short memory, will run and hide whenever someone he doesn't know comes over. And he won't come out until they leave (like the seven hours he spent under my bed Christmas day when my sister, BIL, and nephew were here). However, after more than two weeks of not seeing my children while they were on vacation with their dad, they come over and he runs off for about 5 minutes until he realizes it's them. Then he's out as normal. It seems highly unlikely that a cat's long-time owner would become a "new experience" to them after they took a trip for a few days. More likely, they feel abandoned or neglected and they're reacting to that with negative emotion, to be classified however one pleases, I suppose. 

post #20 of 26
This is one of the subjects I don't have a strong opinion either way. I am not convinced that cats get mad (as in holding a grudge). So far everything I've read are nothing more than human interpretation of some anecdotal "evidence" that may or may not have happened exactly as described. Confirmation bias is very strong in these cases; we want to tell ourselves that our cats get mad, so we look for "clues" to confirm that perception and ignore those that don't. We come home after 7 days, and we pay attention to things the cats do that are out of the ordinary, and we convinced ourselves that our cats are mad.

Maybe it's perfectly normal for the cat. Maybe they were thinking of something else at that exact moment. Maybe it's something they do regularly, just that we never see it, unless we have a camera on the cat 24/7. They act out of fear, sure, but saying they hold a grudge is just anthropomorphism.
post #21 of 26

I don't necessarily believe that they have ZERO concept of time. I remember when I was little, I used to go on two week vacations to my Nana's house in Florida. Each time I came back and approached my cat, her tail would poof up and she'd act extremely agitated with me, as if she was pissed that I left her alone for so long!
I definitely know that cats hold grudges. My brother used to treat my cat like she was a play thing. He used to pull her tail, hold her tightly and carry her like a stuffed animal.. He even threw her down the stairs once to see if she would actually land on her feet! He used to make loud noises and purposely scare her away for amusement as well.
Granted, he was extremely young and had no concept of how to abide by cats' many rules. Thankfully she has always been a very tolerant cat.
Anyway, to this day (maybe 6-8 years later) she still runs away when she hears him coming down the stairs.. She avoids him at all costs, and only really approaches him when he's sleeping or in a calm, relaxed state. (Which isn't too common for a 14 year old boy)

post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by catspaw66 View Post
 


It is not anger or disappointment. It is fear. Cats have very short memories, and you are now seen as a new experience to her. Give her a few days to get used to you again and she will go back to the loving cat she used to be. Don't bother her when she is under the bed, that will set the process back several steps.

 

Of course, this is only my personal observation from 25 years of multi-cat ownership and over 50 years of having cats around.

I disagree personally. My cat NEVER acts in such a way to newcomers.. She's actually quite friendly. I had the exact same situation as fonkee, except I was away for 2 weeks. I was never away from home for that long in my life at the time. (I was eight).
When I got older, and was staying out of the house more often, she became used to it though. Recently I left for two weeks again, and she greeted me the same as ever. I think at the time, my cat WAS feeling abandoned... But once my leaving became routine, she got used to it. I think she is just happy to see me, considering I'm her favorite it the house (:

post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Persi & Alley View Post

I have read numerous times that cats cannot have human emotions such as the human emotion of being mad at somebody. I have also read that cats have no concept of time; if you leave for work and come back ten hours later they will be just as glad to see you as if you had been gone for ten days. So the experts have always told me. But here on TCS people are always talking about their cat(s) getting mad at them.

I wonder if being mad is like the mad emotion in humans. Being normal, I occasionally get mad at my spouse. And of course there are times when she gets mad at me. The length of time that each would be mad at the other would depend on the "crime". Here is my input on the subject.

I brush and comb Persi every morning but there are still times when I hit a snag. Determined to get the snag out before it becomes worse, I continue combing/brushing until I get it out, knowing it will be worse tomorrow if I do not. This action on my part makes Persi very "mad" at me and he will in fact threaten to do me harm. Now here is where being mad and the concept of a time frame come together: When I am done with the grooming session he will head into the walk in closet where his tent is located and he will get into the tent "mad" at me. There can be no doubt in my mind he is mad at me.

The next thing on my agenda is to come down here in my office where it is very rare that Persi does not join me. Today is such a day. No Persi. He did not even come down to share my roast beef sandwich today at lunch time. You know this guy is really mad at me. He is still up there in his tent. In a few hours it will be dinner time. He has never failed to get over being mad by dinner time and will come downstairs where he will remain the rest of the evening.

Has he actually been feeling the emotion us humans call mad? Does he have a concept of time for how long he will stay mad? (When he gets mad it seems he stays mad longer some times more than others.)

So, what do you think about this subject as it pertains to your cats?

 

I don't believe cats get mad in the way we think about it. I don't think they get the "You suck and you deserve bad things!" kind of feeling that humans do.

 

I think it is wrong to say cats don't have emotions, but their emotions are less "meta." If you think about it (and it's a bit of a mental pretzel, since it's hard for us to imagine feeling in a non-human way), being "mad" in the human sense is kind of meta. It's connecting a person's overall personhood to certain actions. I don't think cats do that. Because the human emotion of "mad" tempts us to act spitefully, and I am certain that cats don't do that.

 

I think, rather, they are trying to communicate "I didn't like that" or "Don't do that" by staying away. They aren't trying to be spiteful, the way humans can be. They aren't telling us we're being bad people. They're telling us they don't like that and they don't want to be around if we're going to do that because it's unpleasant for them. But there's no "meta" implication that we're being bad people, or that we deserve bad things. They just don't want that happening to them again, so staying away is an effective measure to ensure that it doesn't happen.

 

Cats never "strike back," which is why I don't think they get mad like humans do. If they scratch you or something, they aren't doing it to "get back at you." They're doing it because they feel threatened and they think they need to defend themselves. If you're doing something to a cat they don't like, and you stop, it's over. They aren't going to come back and re-initiate a conflict. And angry human sometimes will.

 

I don't know how well I'm explaining that, but there it is. :lol3:

 

As far as a concept of time, I don't really know. I think cats do have a concept of time, but they don't have a concept of future, if that makes sense.

 

My elder kitty knew the difference between me going to school or work for 6 to 8 hours, and when I left for months traveling. She never worried when I left for school/work, but she was beside herself while I was away traveling. So that suggests she does have some concept of time. Maybe not a fantastically detailed one, but something.

 

However, after my traveling, she would get nervous every time I left the house for about 6 months. It didn't matter how long I was gone. Whether it was an hour or a weekend, her reaction was the same.

 

I think she remembered that I had once went away for a long time, and she got that nervous feeling whenever I was gone after that, because she worried I'd be gone a long time again. And because she had that FEELING, it didn't matter how long I was gone -- she still felt bad. She perhaps didn't realize that I hadn't been gone very long, because it felt just as bad to her.

 

So perhaps, cats measure time by how they feel.

post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by catspaw66 View Post
 


It is not anger or disappointment. It is fear. Cats have very short memories, and you are now seen as a new experience to her. Give her a few days to get used to you again and she will go back to the loving cat she used to be. Don't bother her when she is under the bed, that will set the process back several steps.

 

Of course, this is only my personal observation from 25 years of multi-cat ownership and over 50 years of having cats around.


I don't think that is true. I know my elder cat Pearl remembered me for an entire year of absence.

 

She would recognize my voice after months of not hearing it. I would occasionally send something that smelled like me, and she would hoard it until the scent was gone. And when I came back, she instantly resumed sleeping only with me.

 

She also developed depression. Her fur thinned and her energy went down. She stayed low for that entire year. When I came back, she was looking better within a week.

 

I don't know if cats have memories like we do, but at the very least, they remember the association with positive interaction.

 

Pia seems to remember people too. With people she has met before -- even if she hasn't seen them in weeks -- she will come out to say hello pretty much right away. With complete strangers, she won't come out for about an hour.

post #25 of 26

i think that the different posts in this thread all reach at the same idea that cat-mad can happen if you interrupt the cat's routine. it is not like people-mad, resentful and spiteful, but it is a sort of cat-mad where the cat lets you know he doesn't like what's going on.

 

i just got back from a week long trip to texas and searched the site for this exact topic and i'm glad it's been revived because i wasn't here four years ago.

 

while i was away, i had a cat sitter come daily to spend an hour with him and she left me a note that said "gov and i have a definite routine" of feeding, playing, and being brushed for one hour starting at 12pm. like an idiot, i guess, i came home and started to unpack and i think that gov was disturbed by all the "new" activity, he lashed out at me while i was hanging stuff in the closet and got me pretty good on the leg. he grabbed onto my ankle and locked his jaws on my leg and drew some blood. he wouldn't really respond to the "NO" and hissing that usually snaps him out of it, and it kinda scared me. my human brain wants to think that he was mad at me for going away. my understanding of cats, however, is that he was cat-mad at the disruption of what he was used to. 

 

sometimes i get frustrated that i have to conform my daily life to my cat's routine, and i wish he would mellow out. he's still very young so i hope that will happen eventually. 

 

however, i really believe that he missed me while i was gone. he hasn't otherwise left my lap since i've been back. 

post #26 of 26

I'm interested to see how Oliver will react to BF coming home tonight. He's been gone for over a week. I can't see Oliver being "mad" or strange about. I think he'll be excited. But who knows?! He's set to arrive in the middle of the night. Oliver sleeps on or beside me but is very jumpy to any unfamiliar sound. So I expect he will run under the bed until he realizes it's John, then be okay.

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