Can Cats Cry

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can cats cry

Can cats cry? As any cat owner will tell you; yes, they can! However, whether or not they do so for emotional reasons is debatable.

This in no way means that they do not have emotions! While there are theories such as those expressed by “Charles Darwin” that the degree of emotion that humans and different species of animals experience are not the same. There are also theories that claim that humans have no scientific method for aptly gauging animals’ emotions. Regardless, there is no dispute over the fact that your cat does experience emotions.

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can cats cry

Your Cats Emotions

Your cat does experience positive emotions like happiness and even negative emotions like sadness, grief and depression. However, she expresses these emotions through signs such as; a lack of appetite, tiredness, lethargy or continuous meowing and not through tears.  Since cats are unable to express themselves through voice like humans are, cats must rely upon body language to express themselves.  Using expressions such as withdrawal, meowing, and refusing food, cats are able to show their owners that something is amiss.  Also, cats have the instinct to react in this way.  An unhappy cat will not feel well enough to eat or play, similar to the behavior of human children.  Using the knowledge of how a cat shows pleasure will allow you to interpret their behavior since you cannot interpret any words.

Some say that the lack of tears shows that cats are less emphatic creatures than humans.  This may or may not be true considering how you look at the statement.  Cats do not have tears the way humans do.  Yes, they may have the capability for tears, but the areas of the brain that ‘turn on’ tears acts differently in humans and in animals, making the correlation unfounded and unfair.  Simply stating that both humans and cats have tear ducts and cats are selfish for not using them is unrealistic.

Can Cats Cry?

Since your cat possesses tear ducts, she does have the physical ability to cry.  While there are several situations in which a cat may do so, none of them relate to your cat’s emotions.  Tears in a cat differ strongly from tears of a human.  Tears in cats are mainly used for instinctive cleaning of the eye.  When humans have a foreign object in their eye, the eye works to remove the object through tears.  This holds true for cats as well. Yes, the cat will cry, but only in regards to eye care, not in regards to emotions.

Situations Where Your Cat May Cry


When a contaminant such as dust or pollen is blown into your cat’s eyes, your cat might begin to cry. This happens since water is discharged by the ducts in your cat’s eye to remove the contaminant. Once the contaminant is removed the tears stop.


Like all creatures your cat is also susceptible to allergies. Simple things like a new carpet cleaner, perfume or flea control products can cause her allergies to start acting up and as a result your cat begins to cry. To rectify the problem stop using the product your cat is sensitive towards.


If your cat is diagnosed with an infection that is viral or respiratory then tears might be a symptom or perhaps a result of the infection. If your cat has frequent eye discharge then you should take her to the vet. Your vet will recommend a treatment plan for the infection.  Discharge differs from tears in that the tear will be more of a pus-like substance. The tear will be thick, gooey, and possibly stick to the cat’s fur around the eye.  Tears should be clear and dry on their own, discharge is the opposite and signifies a medical issue to be resolved.


Pain is something cats usually try to hide but it may develop into a physical trait such as tears. To stop your cat from crying you need to find out and solve the problem that is causing her pain.  Cats do not show pain as a human or even a dog may show pain.  Given the unique and independent personality of a cat, your kitty may prefer to be alone when in pain.  Cats can hide, become irritable, and mew lightly and constantly when in pain.  Using the subtle signs your cat offers you to discern where the pain may be, and take their crying seriously.  Cats do not usually show emotion, so if your cat begins to do so, your cat is probably in need of medical attention.


Tears are necessary to keep the eyes lubricated and maintain your cat’s optical health.  Eyes of the cat can become dry and irritated over time.  If your cat is an outdoor cat, she may be more susceptible to dry and itchy eyes due to the environment in which she is living in. Dirt and dust, or debris and dander in the air if living in a barn, garage, or outdoors, can wreak havoc on the eye and your cats only line of defense is tears.

Nighttime crying

This is an unfortunate habit that your cat can develop. This habit originates from your cat’s instinctual need to sleep during the day and hunt at night. In order to correct it, you can play with your cat to tire her out before you go to sleep. If this does not work, try to ignore your cat’s behavior.

New cat

If you have recently brought the cat home then it is natural for her to cry as it is still getting used to the surroundings. Give it some time and try to make her feel as safe and comfortable as possible.


Cats are especially spoiled creatures and like humans they too like attention. Therefore, if your cat is hungry, unwell or simply wants you to play with her, she may meow and cry in order to get your attention.


Kittens tend to cry when they cannot feel the presence of their mother.

Old age

After reaching a significant age, your cat’s health begins to suffer and her eyesight and mental capability begin to decline. Your cat may also begin to cry for long bouts due to no obvious reason.

Mating reasons

If your cat is female then loud, continuous crying may be a sign that she is in heat. Other signs include lowering her face and raising her backend, thereby adopting the mating stance.

When male cats reach puberty they can sometimes cry as part of their mating call.


Recent studies have discovered that the pitch of a cat’s cry is the same as that of a human child’s. Moreover, it seems that some of the cats have realized this as well and  can even make their cry sound more similar to a baby. This is in an effort to trigger maternal instincts in humans.

What To Do When Your Cat Continues To Cry?

In cases when a contaminant is causing your cat to cry then she will stop crying once the contaminant has been removed. However, if the crying is prolonged then your cat may be suffering from an eye infection. In this situation, it is recommended that you take your feline friend to the vet.

In some cases your cat may have other symptoms in addition to the tears; such as loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, etc. This can be due to an underlying illness and you should take your cat to the vet for a checkup immediately.


Do cats cry? Yes, they can cry but not with tears. This is normal and will pass once the cause has been rectified. In fact, according to some sources, if your cat never cries, that can be a cause of concern.


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