Can a Cat's Feelings Get Hurt?

Fluffy can feel sad and hurt, though she won't be able to tell you why.
i David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

Cats can feel many of the same emotions that you can feel, including negative emotions such as jealousy, hurt or sadness. Play detective to figure out what's bothering Fluffy, solve it and restore feline happiness. Sad cats may make cute Internet memes, but you'll feel better knowing that she does.


Veterinarians and animal therapists interviewed by agreed that cats can experience emotions ranging from happy to sad. So cats can develop hurt feelings, although they may not express them in the same ways that you might. It can be easy to think that Fluffy eliminated on the bed because she was frustrated or hurt and to then punish Fluffy for her spiteful behavior. Ascribing a human emotion to Fluffy and treating her as though she were human won't solve an underlying issue, however.

Underlying Causes

If Fluffy is acting sad, depressed or hurt, you can help by determining what is wrong. If a family member or friend recently left for vacation, she could be missing them. If nothing has changed and Fluffy continues to act sad, consider talking to your veterinarian about her behavior. Sometimes cats act depressed when they do not feel well. Your vet can diagnose and treat any underlying condition that's causing your kitty to act sad.

How to Help

Small changes that might seem completely insignificant to you could cause hurt feelings. Even something as small as changing cat litter brands because one was on sale could upset Fluffy. The new litter could stick in her paw pads or cause a headache. If you've been spending less time with Fluffy because you've been busy at work, remember to engage in playtime together. Restoring Fluffy's routine can help her feel better.


Cats why have hurt feelings may partake less in activities they normally enjoy, such as playing or grooming. If Fluffy's fur is looking more ragged or she is spending more time sleeping than interacting with you, she may be depressed. Some cats also eat less when they are unhappy. Always check in with your veterinarian, who may want to see Fluffy to rule out medical conditions that may be causing behavioral changes.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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