Cats do not really say “I’m sorry” to hoomans because they do not have the same emotions hoomans have. A cat does not act out of spite. They do not show a sense of gratitude anyway. They do not display any feelings of guilt. As Mieshelle Nagelschneider notes in her book The Cat Whisperer, “Lacking our kind of cognition, lacking ideas about how things ought to be, cats simply observe or respond, with no verbalized thought in between.” “They respond to the love and affection we give in a way that shows good energy and enjoyment of the pleasant touch of our hands in petting or tickling. They respond to hooman generosity of putting down a bowl of food or fresh water not with gratitude but with relief from hunger and the anxiety and fear of hunger. They respond to what hoomans do as nature has conditioned them to do and they respond to the environment in ways that would have maximized their survival strategies in the wild. There is no good or bad to it anyway.” (The Cat Whisperer, page 38.)
What a cat does has meaning to a cat. Recently Milky escaped from us and was temporarily lost in bushes along the road to our cottage. He was stressed. I think he realized we were stressed. Did he say, “I’m sorry?” No. However, what he did do was to re-affirm his relationship to his family, something that is important to him and gives him a sense of security, by sleeping on Mummy’s bed until bedtime, then going in and sleeping with Daddy, lying at the foot of her bed, and the next day coming in to see me to get his usual window time while in the afternoon sitting on the basement stairs and meowing to me with his usual request for a game. We played. He went about his usual business afterwards.
Was Milky saying he was sorry? It kind of looked like it, but, in reality, after he had been stressed and he knew we had been stressed over him getting lost. It appears that what he was really doing was ensuring that all the facets of the world that he was used to were functioning correctly again. He satisfied himself that he was safe and continued to be accepted. He was again part of the family and he could get his way without us being angry with him for whatever reason. Therefore, having tested the limits of our relationships and having found no problems, Milky could go on with his life in his world. Seriously, sorry is a hooman emotion, not a cat one.