Do cats feel embarrassment?

Some people want to know whether domestic cats can feel embarrassed. There is nothing to suggest in my personal experiences that cats can feel the emotion of embarrassment. That’s not conclusive and some people believe that cats do feel embarrassed sometimes but are they protecting their emotions upon their cat? This is the most likely reason.

Do cats feel embarrassment?

Do cats feel embarrassment? Photo in public domain.

I have done some research on this and Dr John Bradshaw, a very authoritative cat behaviorist and the author of Cat Sense does not refer to it in his book and I am able to search the entire book because I have a Kindle version.

Another distinguished cat behaviourist and veterinarian, Dr Bruce Fogle, says that cats don’t feel embarrassment. He refers to the many instances that we see on video on YouTube of cats failing to jump accurately and at the end of it not showing an iota of embarrassment. They just get on with life and try again.

Intriguingly, he says that sometimes cats sit down and wash themselves after making a mistake. Some people think that it is a sign of embarrassment but Dr Bruce Fogle disagrees. He says that if it’s true that cats groom themselves after an embarrassing incident, it is simply a sign that they are getting on with life normally and nothing has changed.

Dr Desmond Morris does not mention it either in the books that I have by him: Cat Watching and Cat World.

My conclusion is that cats do not feel embarrassment. It is probably an emotion which is just a bit beyond our domestic cats which is not to say that they don’t feel emotions. We know very well that they feel many emotions, the basic ones of which are contentment and sadness. Cats are arguably not self-conscious (self aware). This may be a factor in their failure to feel embarrassed.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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