Do Cats Cry? What to Do About a Crying Cat?

The Truth About Cats’ Tears

do cats cry

Cats’ eyes will “tear” or water for a number of reasons, but they are all medical, not emotional. For instance, it may be due to eye irritation from a speck of dust or a scratch from another cat. Tears might also be caused by contagious diseases. In other words, a cat’s eyes may tear and water, but this isn’t an emotional reaction. Cats resoundingly do not cry the way humans do. In an article from Parade magazine, veterinarian Dr. Sheri Morris of Oregon emphasizes that cats do tear up, but it’s exclusively in response to an injury or illness, usually associated with their eyes. Irritants like disinfectant cleaners or allergies could also be the culprit. If you’re noticing a crying cat with persistently watery eyes, a trip to the vet is best.

Certified Cat Behaviorist and author Mieshelle Nagelschneider echoes Dr. Morris’ assessment that cats’ eyes don’t open the floodgates when in pain or upset. Rather, cats vocalize when something is bothering them.

There are a variety of crying cat sounds


Cat crying is usually expressed vocally. Photography © Martin Poole | DigitalVision / Getty Images.

The next question you have after, “Do cats cry?” is probably, “What does cat crying sound like?” In the popular YouTube video, 7 Sounds Cats Make and What They Mean, there are two segments that sound a lot like a cat crying. The portion on yowling sounds like a cat crying out in distress. According to the video, the crying can be considered a warning to cats encroaching on claimed territory. The yowling could also be interpreted as an invitation to mate (talk about mixed signals!). The final segment shows mewling kittens — their cries should be familiar to every mother. “We’re over here,” they seem to scream.

Do cats cry when they’re kittens?

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In addition to the crying mentioned above, kittens will cry out when they’re scared, hungry, or cold.

Do cats cry more when they’re stressed or due to changes in their environment?

Stress can’t be stressed enough as a cause of crying cats. Seemingly innocuous alterations in a cats’ environment can cause stress — sure you love the new sofa but is it an invasion of malicious intruders? Some cats aren’t sure!

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Do cats cry more as they get older?

Aging can cause excessive vocalization. Senior cats, like people, experience cognitive dysfunction and can become disoriented. Mental confusion can certainly lead to a crying cat who is calling out to his people for help.

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