Do Cats Cry? [Causes of Cat Crying & What To Do About It]

It’s natural to ask questions like: do cats feel sad? Do they cry? And if so, why do cats cry?

Cats’ emotional expressions and the interpretation of their different sounds can be quite confusing to the majority of owners. Let’s talk about why cats cry and what you can do about it

Why Do Cats Cry?

  • Cats don’t cry with tears for emotional reasons
  • Cats can produce tears due to allergies
  • Cat can produce tears due to infections
  • Cat can produce tears due to genetic variation in different breeds of cats
  • Cats make crying sounds to express hunger, distress, fear, or demanding attention

Do Cats Cry?

Cats cry for a variety of sentimental reasons. In fact, not only do cats get emotional, but they’re also able to understand a lot of human facial expressions and react to them accordingly.


Additionally, cats may start meowing due to a wide range of motives, sadness being one of them. They may also express happiness by purring, running, as well as rubbing against you, or other cats and animals.

But cats don’t cry with tears in their eyes like humans do. Cats can have tears in their eyes but it’s exclusively because of medical reasons and never for emotional ones.

Back in the day, it was believed that cats would cry with tears when grieving or in sad situations. But modern science debunked this myth and proved the incidence of such cases as purely coincidental.

Then Why Do Cats Have Tears in Their Eyes?

As previously mentioned, cats don’t shed tears due to emotional reasons, but rather because of specific medical and environmental conditions. Here are a few of those:


Just like humans, cats’ eyes can get irritated to develop Pink Eye, scientifically known as Conjunctivitis.

Conjunctivitis refers to an inflammatory eye condition affecting the moist areas of the eye tissue such as the conjunctiva, the globe, and the cornea.

Conjunctivitis is known for causing congestions in the blood vessels of the eye, leaving the eye with a pinkish color, hence the name. It’s also accompanied by excessive eye fluid discharge as an attempt to kill the microbes behind the disease.

It’s an infectious disease spreading among cats and caused by numerous types of viruses, most commonly the herpes virus. This means that cat owners should contact their vet immediately if they find such symptoms on one of their cats to make sure the rest of their felines are safe.


Feline allergy is a more widespread condition than you might think. Cats can develop an allergic reaction to all sorts of things resulting from immunity responses towards their environment.

Cute kitten portrait. British Shorthair cat. Sad, crying expression

Allergic reactions in felines may be triggered by different causes such as pollen, specific foods, insect bites, synthetic cleaning products, grass, scents, as well as some kinds of medications.


Owing to the huge number of causative agents, allergies in cats have been divided into three main categories: food allergies, environmental allergies, fleas allergies.

Food allergies are usually accompanied by gastrointestinal disorders such as cramping, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Fleas allergies and skin allergies (Atopic Dermatitis) are known to cause inflammations on cats’ bodies along with itchy skin and, in some cases, damaged hair.

(check out our list of best cat foods for skin allergies)

Environmental allergies, on the other hand, can cause severe eye discharges in addition to great discomfort, so your cat seems as if it’s crying out of sadness.

This can be prevented by controlling your cat’s food habits and monitoring your cat’s whereabouts so you can identify the allergen or the trigger factor.

Cat Species

Cats come in all different shapes and sizes, so it’s not exactly a surprise for you to know that some feline species are more likely to tear up than others due to genetic variation.

This happens because of the diversity in their body structures where some cats have bigger lacrimal glands, and consequently more tears, while other types have much smaller tear ducts making them less likely to shed tears even with eye allergies.

In that case, prescribed eye lubrication by a vet would be a must to prevent dryness of the cat’s eyes, since having dry eye is usually a more serious issue than runny eyes.

How Do Cats Express Their Emotions?

Now that you know why a cat would have tears in its eyes, you’re now probably wondering what these furballs do when they’re actually sad, happy, or even scared?

Cats are emotional creatures, and they have unique ways of expressing their emotions. The most common one is through sounds and body language. Cats’ vocalization comes out as different noises to express various emotions.

Although many experts believe that cats can give out more than 120 different noises, many of these sounds are extremely similar so they’re divided into groups.

We can break down cat sounds into a few main categories which are used for communication either between cats and each other or between cats and their owners.


Needless to say, meowing is the most regularly used sound when a cat is trying to catch our attention. Cats rarely meow at each other, and they almost exclusively use meowing for communication with humans.

Since cats use meows in many different situations, meows alone can’t tell us how cats exactly feel, so it’s very important to pay attention to their tone, frequency, and intensity. You also want to observe your cat’s body language for better assessment.

Cats may also meow to let you know they’re hungry, you’ll also notice more meows when their bowl is empty or at times when you typically feed them. Another reason they might be meowing is to express fear or illness.

Older cats tend to cry loudly to express distress, pain, or anxiety. When these sounds start to get progressively louder, you should consider paying a visit to the vet


Another cat sound that’s usually related to crying is the intensely prolonged yowling. This type of noise is used as a communication method between cats for specific reasons.

One reason you’d start hearing these loud sounds is during mating season, as both males and females use yowling to attract each other for mating. This is why you usually hear the same loud yowls around the same time each year.

Cats are very territorial animals, feline males will also use these howling sounds to mark their territories and scare away any other intruding males:


This sound is often heard when cats are angry, distressed, or unhappy. It’s considered a warning sign that your cat isn’t in the mood for playing, so avoid disturbing your pet in such times.

These growls vary in length and duration, they can be long and continuous or short and intermittent. However, they all have the same meaning.

If your cat growls at you while playing, it’s best to give it the space it demands and let it cool off.

However, if these sounds continue for a long time, or they’re accompanied by lethargy and lack of movement, this can be a sign that the cat is suffering from a more serious issue so a vet clinic check-up is necessary.


Screams are obvious sounds to express any distress, injury, or pain. You often hear them when cats are fighting. It’s probably the most intense and high pitched sound a cat can make.

Kitten Cries

This sound is almost exclusive to newborn kittens during their earliest weeks of life. It’s known to be an anxious call made by kittens when they’re nervous, worried, or lost.

Usually, when a kitten produces this high pitched cry, it’s better to take it to the mother. These cries are similar to meows but more continuous. They might go non stop until the kitten feels safe again.

However, kitten cries can signal more than anxiety. They can also mean the kitten is getting hungry, feeling cold, or trapped.

What Can You Do When Cats Are Crying?

Since cats may cry for so many reasons, you’ll have to understand the motive behind these cries before trying to fix the problem.

The first thing you need to check when your cat’s crying, is its surroundings. Look for anything that might be causing it distress.

Also, if your cat lets you touch its body, check for signs of injuries or lesions. If the cries don’t go away after a relatively long time, it’s better that you take your feline pet to the vet. If you find tears in its eyes, this also calls for an immediate medical check-up.

Wrap Up

Cats do cry, just not like us! The more you try to understand your cat’s habits and behaviors, the easier you can figure out when it’s fine and when it’s not.

However, if you’re too concerned about your cat’s physical or emotional health, you should carefully check other signs such as lack of movement, isolation, and loss of appetite.

In case you can’t put your finger on what exactly went wrong, it’d be better if you seek the help of a veterinarian or a professional cat behavior trainer. They can guide you on the best way to deal with your cat’s issues.

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