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Investigating Cat Crying: Do Cats Cry Real Tears?

Cats have acquired a reputation for being independent and aloof, but once you’ve earned their trust, they are anything but.

Cats do cry, but you won’t see one sobbing with tears rolling down its furry cheeks. The sound of a cat crying is very sad and quite distressing for owners, especially if it is continual. A sad or distressed cat will let out woeful meows that are quite distinguishable from happy ones.

There are many superstitions surrounding cats crying and working out the true reason can be tricky – but it is important to invest some time to do so.

We’ve always had cats around so I’ve heard cats crying under many different circumstances. I’ll talk you through the causes and the solutions in a moment.

A ginger cat closeup with eyes shut and mouth open as if crying.

Cats do meow pitifully and though they don’t sob floods of tears they can experience the feelings of sadness that drive us to tears.

You might not call it crying but cats do respond emotionally to certain circumstances.

Several things have the potential to make a cat cry including a change of environment such as moving house, the introduction of a new pet, loneliness, or feeling unwell.

Is it possible for cats to cry?

It is possible for cats to appear as if they are crying but the fact is they do not produce tears of sadness.

If you spot tears in your cat’s eyes they’ll most like be due to an eye condition rather than sorrow. Look closely for signs of infection, inflammation, damage, or foreign objects.

Certain household products can irritate a cat’s eyes enough to make them water and allergies can also be the culprit.

If you have any concerns at all about your cat’s eye health, seek the help of your vet immediately.

Do cats have tear ducts?

Closeup of a tabby cat's face.

Cats have tear ducts and, therefore, the ability to produce tears. The tears produced are purely to lubricate and protect a cat’s eyes.

A cat’s tears wash out debris and keep the surface of its eyes moist. Find more on this subject at

The causes of cat crying

A grey tabby kitten looking sad enough to cry.

If your cat is sad it will emit pitiful meows. Here are common reasons for cats crying:

Changes to routine

Cats thrive on routine. For example, they like to be fed at the same time every day.

If you are late serving its food, this may well result in your cat crying until you feed it.

Sticking to a routine as much as possible will prevent cats from crying for this reason.

Dietary changes

Changing a cat’s diet doesn’t always go down too well. We often do it because we think they might get bored with the same food.

In fact, cats aren’t like us in this respect. They get to trust a particular food and can feel stressed if you change it.

Some will just not eat the new food and some will cry in an attempt to inform you of their dissatisfaction.

Environmental Changes

A change to the place where they spend most of their time can have a detrimental effect on them.

This can include the obvious one – moving house. You may also notice their behavior change when you move furniture around.

Two cats sitting together.

Introducing a new pet

If you introduce a new cat, dog, or any other pet into your home, this may upset your existing cat enough to make it cry woefully.

It may well perceive this new animal as a threat and if it is not dominant you may find it starts to shun you and spends a lot less time with you than before.

Children and/or babies

Cat’s tend not to like things that are unpredictable and there’s arguably nothing more unpredictable than children.

If your cat is crying it could be feeling stressed by too much attention from children.

Ensure any children are aware of when the cat has had enough and don’t let them pull it around like a toy.

A young girl hugging a white cat.

Illness or injury

Always take notice of a cat’s crying, especially if it is out of the ordinary. It may be unwell or injured.

Check its body carefully to see if your touch can establish a painful area. Take note of its general demeanor and whether it is eating or drinking as usual.

If you spot an obvious problem or are unsure, go straight to your vets for a check-up.


Cats often cry if they feel lonely. This often happens at night and is just your cat wondering where you are. As cats get older you may hear them crying at night more often.

Our current Maine Coon cries when we disappear from view. We often hear her crying when we are literally only upstairs.

We know she is missing other cats as she came from a multi-cat household.

We are picking up three friends for her very soon and are hoping this will be just the cure. Until they arrive, we’ll make sure someone is always at home with her.

Many superstitions surround cats crying at night but they all have logical explanations – most have grown out of the habits people have of looking for cause and effect where none actually exists.

In heat

Female cats can cry like babies when they are in season. They are hoping to attract the attention of local Tom cats.

As most cats are locked in at night, the only thing they really attract it your attention!

The easiest way to put a stop to this crying is to have your cat spayed unless you are planning to breed from her, in which case, you’ll have to tolerate the noise.

Remember, the breeding season for cats lasts all year. Heat cycles can start at four or five months of age and repeat every two to three weeks until your cat is spayed or falls pregnant.

It wants to go out!

If you’re cat is crying at the door, it wants to get out. Tom’s do this if they sense or hear a female on heat.

Indoor cats get bored and develop an inquisitiveness to know what’s outside. If a strange cat has passed by and your cat has seen it through a window it might be itching to go out to confront it.

Ensuring your cat has an enriched indoor environment can help to prevent it from itching to get outside all the time and will hopefully lessen it crying for freedom.

Cognitive issues

Older cats can develop a form of dementia which leads to them making woeful meows of confusion. Occasionally younger cats can suffer from cognitive issues too. It’s as if they suddenly forget where they are and cry out for help.

Episodes tend to happen more at night, partly because they get disoriented by the absence of light and partly because of loneliness. Sensor nIght lights are really helpful – the type that plug into an electrical socket.

A vet should really examine a cat that seems to be crying for this reason as they can prescribe medication to help.

A black and white staring out of a window.

What does a cat do when it feels sad?

When a cat is anxious or sad it will act differently. You may find it less willing to play with you. Most cats can be tempted to chase after a piece of string or pounce on something wriggling under a carpet.

If your cat is consistently showing a lack of interest in playing this could be a sign of depression.

Other tell-tale signs are spending a lot more time asleep or hiding away. Another indicator that all is not well is a lack of interest in eating.

Depression and other cognitive issues can affect cats. If you are unable to lift your cat’s spirits through giving it attention and enriching its environment you should seek a vets help.

If left unchecked, depression in cats can lead to other health issues.

Do cats cry? – Conclusion

Cats do cry but they do not shed tears. Cats crying involves a variety of sounds from a woeful meow to a sharp yowl of pain.

Cats crying at night can be disturbing and it’s always prudent to establish the cause if yours does this.

Their eyes may not get wet, but cats are definitely capable of experiencing the emotions that drive us to tears.

If your cat’s eyes are shedding tears there may be many reasons but none of them will be because it’s upset! Take a close look at its eyes to see if it has an infection or injury.

If the tears persist, don’t take a chance with your cat’s eyes – contact your vet immediately.

Here are some of my favorite products for cats

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you found it helpful whether you own a cat or are considering it. I thought I’d share a few of the cat products I love which you might find really useful too.

The following are Amazon affiliate links, and if you decide to use them, I’ll earn a small commission from Amazon at no cost at all to you.

An indoor cat tree: This is an excellent item to satisfy a cat’s urge to climb and scratch. There are several sizes to choose from so you can pick the right height for your home. Our cats love this Amazon Basics tree with multi-levels, scratching posts, and a little hideaway.

Fred and Oscar in their Amazon Basics cat tree

Drinking fountain: Cats love to drink from flowing water. Many don’t seem to drink enough so a fountain is a good way to get them interested. This Orsda Fountain is quiet, has a large capacity, and looks stylish too.

Scratcher Lounger: The more cat-scratching posts you have the better. Many cats like to claw horizontally which is why we chose the PetFusion Ultimate cat scratcher. It has seen quite a bit of action from 4 Maine Coons but still looks great.

This article may contain affiliate links; if you click on a shopping link and make a purchase I may receive a commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.