When we get embarrassed, we blush and stammer. When cats fail at something, they seem to pretend it never happened, but do they get embarrassed as humans do?
Embarrassment is a very human emotion that cats may not fully experience. When you react negatively to what they do, they would feel ashamed to a certain extent.
Although cats aren’t as expressive as humans, we can observe and interpret how our pets feel after a failed attempt. Below, you will read more about how cats react when embarrassed and the behaviors associated with this emotion.
Do Cats Get Embarrassed?
Embarrassment is a self-conscious emotion affecting how we think of ourselves and what we assume people perceive us to be. With cats, it is more challenging to ascertain if they get embarrassed like humans do, but what appears to be embarrassment can be more of a reflection of how you react to them, according to ASPCA.
Embarrassment is felt consciously when a person has made a mistake and an audience has witnessed it, followed by feelings of shame, awkwardness, and exposure. This mistake can be many things to a cat; it can be failing to jump or land successfully, getting caught scratching your furniture or snatching food, etc.
Sources of Embarrassment
This feeling arises when a person is exposed to doing something he or she was told not to do according to societal standards. In a cat’s case, it might feel shame when seen or exposed to failing at something. For example, it was taught to urinate and defecate on the litterbox only but you caught it peeing on the wall. If your cat looks embarrassed, it could have felt shame from being exposed for its mistake of breaking a house rule.
This feeling arises when someone has violated or done something against their own standards. Cats don’t feel guilt the same way we do. When you’re scolding your cat for bad behavior, it’s more likely afraid than guilty or ashamed of what it has done because of the evident anger in your voice.
To summarize the two, Neel Burton, M.D., wrote in Psychology Today, stating, “Shame says, ‘I am bad.’ Guilt says, ‘I did something bad.'”
Read: Do Cats See Humans as Cats? An Exploration of Feline Cognition
Different Types of Embarrassment for A Cat
Joseph Burgo, Ph.D., has identified four types of shame and embarrassment that apply to humans. In this segment, you will learn the three types that apply to felines.
“When you draw attention to yourself in a way that you don’t want, like when you do something embarrassing in public,” Burgo explains. This is the type of embarrassment we are all familiar with, when a mistake occurs with an audience present. For your cat, you’re the audience.
In the scenario that a cat is caught doing something you specifically didn’t want it to be doing, your cat may stare and run away or stop and pretend like it didn’t happen. The unwanted exposure has stirred feelings of embarrassment that caused your feline to react the way it did.
Read: Why Do Cats Fight at Night?
Disappointment or Failed Expectations
“When you have or set a goal and you fall short,” Burgo writes in his book. Regardless of whether there’s an audience, this type of embarrassment is felt if your cat has failed its own expectations of completing a goal.
For example, when a cat falls to jump or land properly. It may look stunned for a moment, shake its head, and walk away slowly while refusing to look at your face.
Exclusion or Marginalization
“We want to belong, we need to belong […] and be accepted by a group and if we’re on the outside – if we’re left out or excluded – we’re likely to feel some kind of shame.”
An example would be if there’s a new pet in your home and all the attention is poured into the new member. The cat will feel excluded. To deal with the feeling, your cat may become clingier/insecure, avoidant, or unbothered.
Read: Why Are Cats Not Always Landing on Their Feet?
How Do Cats Act When They Are Embarrassed?
Cats can express embarrassment in many ways.
- Flattening or twitching of ears.
- Tucking the tail.
- Shaking its head after a failed jump.
- Displacement grooming.
Displacement grooming is when your cat randomly licks its paw or other parts of its body to express uncertainty, stress, or fear of what has just occurred, such as underestimating a jump.
Do Cats Get Embarrassed After Throwing Up?
Your cat may have looked ashamed after throwing up, refusing to look at you, or walking away slowly from the scene, ashamed. The discomfort felt after vomiting overwhelms everything else, so your cat looks to you as if to say it’s feeling unwell and walk away to hide and feel better.
Causes of vomiting can be ingestion of foreign objects, an empty stomach, or a quick diet change. If this happens regularly, make sure to consult your veterinarian.
Read: How to Discipline a Cat for Meowing?
Do Cats Get Embarrassed After They Poop?
After cats poop, they bury the feces under the earth, a behavior assumed to be done out of embarrassment. With smaller animals, even predators like cats, there’s always a bigger predator out there to hunt them; burying the feces is a way to conceal the scent.
In a multi-cat household, only the dominant cat can leave its poop in the open to establish a territorial marker. The other cats in the group will hide their poop to mask the scent and avoid conflict.
Do Cats Know When You Are Laughing at Them?
Watching your cat do its usual shenanigans can lead to good laughter once in a while and your feline appears to be embarrassed by it. Cats observe their owners and learn their emotional cues when expressing happiness and anger.
The sound of laughter indicates amusement and joy, although cats can’t fully comprehend it. Some cats are more intelligent and understand that you are laughing at them!
Can Cats Get Mad at Their Humans?
Animals experience anger just like humans do. You can make cats angry. Even though we like to think of cats as having feelings like ours, the truth is that their anger stems from a different place.
Cats can become angry with their owners for many different reasons. This includes being upset with their owner for abandoning them, failing to feed them on schedule, or not liking certain smells or noises.
One of the first subtle indications that your cat is upset with you is when you notice her tail hanging low and moving quickly from side to side. Stop doing whatever it is that’s upsetting her, and give her some space until she calms down whenever you see the tail twitch.
Cats are intelligent animals that keep many secrets regarding their thoughts and feelings. When cats get embarrassed, they lower their ears and head, avoid eye contact, and go into hiding. It’s difficult to know if they get embarrassed like we do but they feel it to a limited extent.