Embarrassment is a very human emotion that we experience during a number of occasions, whether you walked out of a bathroom with toilet paper on your shoe or you slipped on stage at your graduation. Oftentimes, we see our cats do things that might embarrass a human, like undershooting a jump and ending up on the floor or getting food on their face. Sometimes, we may even see our cats quickly scramble out of the room or act sheepish after an embarrassing moment. But do cats actually feel embarrassment or is this a sensation that is exclusive to humans? We don’t know the answer for sure, but cats probably do not experience embarrassment the way we do.
Do Cats Get Embarrassed?
We don’t actually know the answer to this question definitively. The main reason for this is because we can’t ask our cats how they’re feeling when something happens. We have no way to know for sure if the emotion they are experiencing is embarrassment or just disorientation from a situation not ending up the way they expected it to.
There are some simple emotions that we know for sure that cats experience, like happiness and fear. The reason we know these emotions occur is because of the behaviors associated with them. However, embarrassment doesn’t have clear-cut indicators to help us know if that is what our cat is experiencing or not. Other complex emotions that can be difficult to decipher in cat behavior include emotions like disappointment and jealousy.
If My Cat’s Not Embarrassed, Why Do They Respond a Certain Way?
So, you saw your cat miss a jump and as soon as they saw you watching, they bolted out of the room. Or maybe you caught your cat breaking a rule, like scratching at furniture or eating the dog’s food. Was your cat embarrassed when they realized you were watching? We don’t really know, but it’s far more likely that your cat was experiencing another type of emotion, like fear of having been caught breaking the rules. If your cat did something like miss a jump, they may have a brief moment of pain or confusion from not ending up where they thought they’d land.
Humans tend to anthropomorphize or attribute human emotions to animals. When we do this, we often attribute certain behaviors that our animals perform to mean something human, when in reality, they may not mean what we think they do. This behavior is extremely common in humans, so it’s not unusual that we might assign complex emotions like embarrassment to our cats.
We really don’t know the answer to the question of whether our cats get embarrassed or not. While it’s unlikely to be harmful for you to believe your cat is embarrassed in certain situations, you may also be misreading the situation. It’s very common for people to do this when we anthropomorphize our pets, and people across the world are guilty of this behavior.
The good news is that this means you can post a picture of your cat on social media in front of a sign shaming them for leaving a dead mouse in your shoes and your cat will be none the wiser. Even if your cat can feel embarrassment, they are not capable of understanding the complexities of social media.
Featured Image Credit: TungCheung, Shutterstock