Can cats be regretful? Do cats actually regret?

Our question this week was:

Do cats have regret? Recently my husband and I have taken in a stray kitten that we found on our patio. We think it’s a she and about three months old, she’s a feisty one. I wanted to get it healthy and socialized, and then give her away; but she was too feisty to keep in the home with my one yr old son. So we let her go again and she booked off. Then out of nowhere she’s back, so that’s when my husband asked me if cats feel regret. I say no cause animals don’t think about the out come, they just do what’s instinct. Just like when a kitten is old enough to be on its own the mother leaves, and that they don’t think like hey you’re my sister or bother.

Christ Martinez


Hi – thanks for your email. Do cats have regret? Interesting question. Personally, I don’t think cats feel regret. I think they feel love, fear, hunger, comfort, stress, anger, anxiety, depression…but not really regret.

Regret is an intelligent or emotional dislike for personal past acts and behaviors. I don’t think cats can look at and understand their past.

I’d be really interested in what the rest of you pet owners think?

Dr. Debra

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