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Do Cats Get Embarrassed? Feline Feeling Explained

Hallie Roddy

By Hallie Roddy

shy scared cat in bucket litter box

Our little feline friends are always doing the most mischievous things. Even when they’re on their worst behavior, it seems like they genuinely don’t care about what we or other pets in the house think of them. There are many situations where we can’t understand cats or why they do the things that they do. However, some studies suggest that cats can feel emotions similar to humans, including embarrassment.1


Do Cats Feel Embarrassed?

As we further study cats and emotions, it has become clear that while cats might feel emotion, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they work the same way human emotions do. Cats might not process negative feelings the same way we do either. Try not to confuse emotions with feelings when thinking about this subject.

Cats do feel emotions, and their responses or reactions can vary depending on the individual and the situation. The problem with understanding if cats can feel embarrassed is the lack of communication. The communication gap between humans and animals keeps us from fully understanding the way they express thoughts and we have to rely solely on gestures or body language.

cat lying on the floor hiding behind the curtain
Image Credit: Mantikorra, Shutterstock

Signs of Embarrassment for Felines

All animals are equipped with innate survival instincts. Part of this set of instincts is being made to feel a certain way to help them respond to different situations. Some of a cat’s actions are simple to comprehend while other actions are more complex and challenging.

So, when a cat does something that makes them feel embarrassed, what can we expect to see from them?

  • Hissing
  • Preening
  • Scratching
  • Running away
  • Hiding
  • Tucking their tail between their legs
  • Twitching ears

Most of these signs of feline embarrassment are self-explanatory. Preening is just another term for when cats groom themselves in order to help them calm down or keep themselves entertained. Cats that preen themselves are transferring their emotions or feelings into an alternative behavior or activity. Humans have their own versions of preening, such as sucking their thumbs or twirling their hair.


Situations That May Make a Cat Feel Embarrassed

Understanding the feeling of shame and embarrassment in certain situations helps humans to better understand feline behavior. There are a few common things that humans think may make a cat feel embarrassed.


Our furballs are full of energy. They seem like they can soar to new heights when they get a random burst of energy at night. Even though they might feel invincible, all cat parents have witnessed a big fall every now and then.

Cats are likely to be most embarrassed when someone makes them feel so. When a cat falls, its self-awareness and consciousness are more active. Over time, this can make a cat feel like something is wrong when a certain action continues to happen. This triggers stress and teaches your cat to become embarrassed. You might notice that after they fall, they slink away or refuse to make eye contact with you.

Throwing Up

Cats throwing up is somewhat common. It usually means they are sick or having some digestive issues, and vomiting can make a cat feel embarrassed. Still, it’s safe to say that most cats don’t care as it’s a normal reaction to feeling ill.

Remember that if cats continue to act strangely or vomit, reach out to your vet immediately and have them analyzed. There could be a more serious health condition responsible for the behavior.

Final thoughts

Cat emotions are complex and not something that we fully understand yet. While there are studies suggesting that cats and dogs feel complex emotions, we don’t know exactly how the animals process or understand them. This also means that embarrassment is certainly possible for felines to feel. If you want to keep them from feeling this way, try not to react in a negative light whenever they do something that you might deem as embarrassing in your own life.

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Featured Image Credit: Tung Cheung, Shutterstock

Hallie Roddy

Authored by

Hallie has been a proud nature and animal enthusiast for as long as she can remember. She attributes her passion for the environment and all its creatures to her childhood when she was showing horses on weekends and spending her weeknights devoting her attention to her pets. She enjoys spending most of her time in Michigan playing with her two rescue cats, Chewbacca and Lena, and her dog, Clayton. When Hallie isn’t usin...Read more

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