How To Apologize To A Cat: 11 Ways To Apawlegize

The close connection between humans and cats goes back a long way. Over 3000 years ago, cats were depicted as deities in Egyptian culture, and our feline pets have never forgotten their noble roots. But, in all friendships, things sometimes go wrong, and a sincere apology may occasionally be required to get things back on track. Read on to learn my 11 straight forward ways how to apologize to a cat.

11 Ways to apologize to a cat:

  1. Understand what you did wrong
  2. Timing is important
  3. Approach the cat cautiously
  4. Speak to your cat
  5. Use a soothing tone of voice
  6. Watch your body language
  7. Pet your cat
  8. Play with your cat
  9. Present an offering
  10. Don’t give up
  11. Stick to a cat-friendly routine

Upsetting your cat can be highly distressing for feline parents, and you may worry that the relationship will never be the same. To be forgiven, you need to have a kitty-friendly apology strategy, so your little house panther will realize that you’re sorry and resume its regular relaxing and purring routine.

two cats selfie

How To Tell If Your Cat Is Offended?

Although our feline companions may appear aloof most of the time, a change of manner or behavior can quickly let you know it is upset.

Sometimes offenses are obvious, and your startled cat may scuttle for cover after you’ve tripped on it or your visitor’s kids scared it with loud shrieks. Other times, the transgression may be a build-up over time. Perhaps you have a new partner, adopted a new pet, or moved house.

Like humans, cats have individual personalities. What will upset one to the point of instantly vanishing under the sofa won’t phase another. A new vacuum or needing to administer medication can annoy some felines while others take it in their stride.

Cat parents need to know their cat and be able to read the signs. Your cat may not speak (unless it is Siamese or Oriental, in which case it is probably very vocal!), but it will send plenty of tell-tail, not-happy kitty signs. By spending time with your cat and developing the relationship, you will be able to read its body language more quickly.

Signs That Your Cat Is Upset

Besides the obvious signs like growling, hissing, tense, rigid muscles, or back-arching, there are plenty of more subtle indications that your cat will send that things are not okay. Sometimes, just their displeased fixed glare sends off vibes a tuned-in owner can pick up on.

Knowing how to ready your cat’s body language will let you know if your cat is angry. Let’s go through some of the physical signs that could be telling you that you and your cat have some stuff to work through:

  • Ears – flattened  
  • Eye – wide, alert eyes with large dilated pupils
  • Body – tense and low to the ground
  • Tail – positioned low or twitching

Sometimes cats also let you know that something is wrong by behaving a bit differently. If you’ve forgotten to feed it, your cat may meow and get under your feet more than usual. It may refuse to use the litter box and start using other inappropriate places as a toilet.

Cat body language infographic

Learning to speak cat is tricky, but it isn’t impossible, and once you and your feline have formed a close bond, reading the signs becomes much easier. Spending regular time petting and playing with your cat makes it easier to know when your little tiger is upset quickly.

Do Cats Get Upset Or Offended?

Cats are capable of a surprisingly wide variety of emotions, and their mental and physical health are closely linked. A cat is a complex individual that has its own thoughts and opinions about everything that happens around it.

Cats are capable of jealousy. New babies in a household are a particular sticking point for some cats who feel their key role has been usurped and may start acting out. They will be anxious if you skip a regular playtime or change their diet and will be upset if you accidentally hurt them. They may even feel betrayed by a trip to the veterinarian.

As much as they seem independent and standoffish, deep down, they really do love their human family and enjoy positive attention from them. Fortunately, cats don’t hold long-term grudges; after a situation has been addressed and corrected, they will revert to their usual curious, loving selves. (In time, they might even learn to love the new human baby!)

How Do I Say Sorry To My Cat? 

Apologizing to a cat may seem like Mission Impossible, but fortunately, this is not a new challenge. Humans have needed to apologize to their feline friends for more than 10 000 years, and in that time, we have figured out some tried and tested ways how to apologize to a cat.

1.   Understand What You Did Wrong

Any apology of any sort, to any species, only holds water if you understand what you did to cause the offense. That is the only way you be able to prevent a repeat of the problem.

Unless something obvious happened, like you stepped on your cat’s tail, you may have to do some detective work to discover why your cat is upset. Cats are creatures of routine so look for any elements of their life that might have changed for clues.

2.   Apology Timing Is Important

As determined as you may be to immediately beg for forgiveness from your cat, it needs time to assess the situation calmly. A sudden fright or return from a check-up has upset its daily routine, so give your cat some time to know it is safe before rushing in with gestures of remorse.

Let your cat chillax a little and get over the shock of being offended by a human before you begin the apology procedure.

3.   Approach Your Cat With Caution

If your cat is upset, read the mood and move slowly. Sudden movements or attempts to pick it up may very well be met with anger. While Angry Birds may be famous, interacting with an overtly angry cat is unlikely to end well, even if you only have the purest intentions to set things right.

A far better approach is to gently reassure your cat that the coast is clear and everything is safe. You can sit close to where it is and let it approach you when it is ready. If your cat is on ground level, sit on the floor so you seem less threatening. If it is hiding, you could also try to lure it out using a pull toy after it has relaxed a little.

4. Speak To Your Cat

Research has shown that cats not only know their names but can also distinguish their owner’s voice. So the combination of your voice and familiar words can help your cat to relax.

Remember, your cat may not understand all your words, but it will realize that you are interacting with it. When I have offended my cat, I like to add a title before its name when speaking to it, for example, Sir, Lord, Princess, or Your Highness.

That way, my tone remains quiet and calm, and both parties are reminded of the dynamics of the feline-human relationship.

Ginger tabby cat

5. Use A Soothing Tone Of Voice

Although domestic cat behavior is challenging to study (because cats are cats and aren’t always as cooperative as dogs), what we do know is that cats pick up on the emotional mood of their owners. Simply put, if you are calm, your cat is more likely to relax.

Astoundingly, cats have been observed looking to their trusted humans for cues on how to react when faced with new situations. When faced with new, potentially frightening situations, a securely bonded cat may take cues from its owner about how to respond.

Speak to your cat in the same soothing, calm voice you would use for a baby.

6.   Watch Your Body Language

In the same way you understood that your cat was upset or offended by observing its body language, your feline friend is picking up clues about your attitude from how you move. Even if they have taken cover in a far corner, chances are good that it is carefully observing you.

Besides your voice, your cat picks up clues about the situation from your body language. Moving slowly but still confidently while speaking to your cat is best. It is not the best time to pull out the vacuum or use noisy appliances, but if you need to change the sheets it soiled, go ahead and do so while making occasional eye contact and still speaking softly and reassuringly.

Your cat needs to see that the world is safe, and the incident was just a small blimp that has passed. Try not to use any big movements that may frighten it while it is feeling tender and vulnerable.

7. Pet Your Cat

When your cat has had time to settle and survey the situation, it is likely to calm down. It may not come over to you immediately, and you might have to jump a few steps and add some treats or an interesting toy to get the relationship back on track.

When your cat seems open to physical interaction, you can gently stroke it, scratch it under the chin or rub it on any other favorite spot. Continue to gently speak to your cat while breathing a sigh of relief that all is almost forgiven.

8. Play With Your Cat

An interesting game may be just what the tense situation needs to get everyone happily distracted and back on track to a harmonious relationship. Any simple wand string, like this one from Lasocuhoo, is likely to lighten up the mood. Playing will let your cat know that it is still the light of your life, and the mistake is in the past.

They may sometimes seem a little aloof, but research has found that cats are genuinely fond of their owners. A 2017 NIH study found that most cats will choose interaction with their humans over food or toys. So spending quality time with your cat is important, and know that deep down, your cat loves you even more than its favorite tuna.

9. Present An Offering

A bunch of flowers with an apology note will not cut it for an offended cat, but a few tempting cat treats may get their hearts to warm up a bit faster. An apology tribute doesn’t need to be massive, and owners must be cautious about not overfeeding while waiting for signs of forgiveness.

A treat should always be the last method to soothe your offended cat. Distraction, a gentle, soothing tone, repetition of the cat’s name, and quiet reassurance that you are remorseful and want to set things right should be enough to straighten out most feline-human misunderstandings.

10. Perseverance Is Key

Some slights are worse than others, and your cat may be rather cool towards you when you collect her from boarding after your vacation or after its sterilization procedure at the veterinarian. If your cat is a little insecure and does not respond to your apology as quickly as you would like, take things one day at a time.

Consistently attempt to interact in a gentle way. Techniques like slowly blinking your eyes have been found to increase the rate at which a cat will blink back and make it more likely to approach your hand. Stay down low and just hang out with your cat until she is ready to interact with you and accept your loving caresses.

11. Stick To A Cat-Friendly Routine

To avoid misunderstandings with your cat, having a routine works well. Of course, you will never be able to work vet trips or occasional accidents into that, but for the most part, if your cat knows what to expect, it is less likely to become upset or disappointed.

Cats dislike change. They are creatures of habit, although that is not to say they don’t enjoy the stimulation, and cat owners know the mischievous situations our curious fur kids sometimes manage to get themselves into! Having a solid, predictable routine in place is helpful even if major changes do occur. If you move homes or get a new puppy, the cat’s feeding, petting, playtime, and litter box cleaning routine should continue on schedule.

If your cat is upset and you are trying to apologize, stick to the routine calmly and cheerfully. Even if the cat isn’t as excited about participating while it is grumpy, it will feel more secure seeing life continuing as usual.

cat on couch

Frequently Asked Questions

Of course, knowing how to apologize to your cat does raise some questions.

How Do Cats Apologize To Humans?

New research has shown that cats are every bit as devoted to their owners as dogs – they just have a very different way of showing it. One study showed that 65% of cats showed a secure attachment to their caretakers, which is very similar to human infants and dogs.

So if your cat gets carried away in a game and claws you or trips you up, it may be eager to check that it still has your approval and complete devotion. It may approach you, rub against you, lick or even try to groom you.

Remember that your cat probably won’t realize what it has done wrong, but it will pick up cues from your expression or reaction that you are upset. Peace and harmony are always top of any feline mind, so always accept your cat’s apology immediately and respond positively to any love or affection it offers.

Do Cats Feel Guilty?

Cats understand the world a little differently than humans. They tend to live more in each moment and don’t drag feelings like guilt along with them. However, they understand that something is wrong if they notice you are upset. Your mood can make them anxious, and they will respond to that rather than any specific action on their part.

Cats can learn that something is unacceptable, like standing on the kitchen counter, but they don’t necessarily feel guilty like humans if they do wrong. Believe it or not, cats, even with their ultra-cool, independent attitudes, are eager to please their human companions, so consistency and positive reinforcement will pay dividends during training.

Do Cats Understand Apologies?

A cat may not understand your words, but they will see from your actions and soft tones that you are sorry for upsetting them. Our little house pets want our approval in the same way as we want theirs. If they are reassured that their environment is a safe haven and their human loves them and will provide for all their needs, cats are usually quick to forgive, forget and get on with their next nap.

How Do Cats Apologize To Other Cats?

Apologies are a human characteristic. Your cat can realize that you are upset and want to comfort or groom you back into a good space, but cats don’t apologize to each other. In the same way, cats frequently meow to communicate with their humans but rarely meow to other cats.

There is simply a different set of rules that applies in cat interactions. There may be a bit of rough and tumble between cats occasionally, but when it’s over, life goes on. Once all is well, you will see them napping together or grooming each other without any apologies being required.

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