Do Cats Get Jealous?

Cat fight
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There are owners who are convinced that their cat is jealous: on the baby, on another cat that gets attention, on a new partner. But can a cat actually be jealous?

Definition jealousy

It is not easy to give a good definition of jealousy, because many different forms are distinguished in the social sciences. According to Wikipedia, it is “a state of mind or emotion where one wishes to get what another has already received, or wishes that the other did not have that.”

Primary emotions

That animals – and therefore also cats – have emotions is beyond dispute. In that sense, a cat could be theoretically jealous.
Science makes a distinction between primary and secondary emotions. All animals have primary emotions such as fear, anger / aggression and pleasure. Or, as it is described by people: happy, scared, angry and sad. These emotions arise in a part of the brain that almost all animals, including humans, have in common. They are essential for our continued existence. For example, fear is necessary for an animal to flee from a dangerous opponent.

Secondary emotions

In addition, psychology has secondary emotions. This includes jealousy, but also guilt and shame, for example. The scientific world is very divided about whether animals also know these emotions.

To be able to experience complex emotions, an animal must be aware of itself, but must also be able to move around in other animals. Monkeys can, elephants and crow-like ones too. Dogs, who are originally social animals, cannot, just like cats.

Own sake

A cat is by its origin programmed as a solitary animal to pursue its own interest. If you are convinced that a cat is jealous, you will probably see that your cat’s jealousy always has to do with so-called sources, so food, drink, sleeping place or attention from the owner.
You tend to interpret your animal’s behavior from your own thinking and perception world. You do not take into account the fact that a cat experiences situations completely differently. Often there are very different causes behind ‘jealous’ behavior.


Because of that solitary background, a cat simply goes to get what she wants or what she thinks she needs.

Does a cat come to sit with you when you sit on the couch with the baby? Probably this is the only moment in the day that you sit down for a moment. Did she not receive hugs before when she sat down with you?

A cat that pees in the house after the arrival of the baby can indicate that the new situation is very stressful for her or that the box is not cleaned often enough. Does your cat always come along when you give the other cat sweets? Logical, because she also wants something tasty. By chasing her away, she will show aggression aggression. However, that is not a jealousy.

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