Investigating Cat Crying: Do Cats Cry Real Tears?

Cats have acquired a reputation for being independent and aloof. Having owned them all my life I believe 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. Working out the cause of cat crying can be tricky but it is worth the effort.

I’ve owned cats my whole life so I’ve heard cats crying under many different circumstances. I’ll talk you through the causes and the solutions in a moment.

Do cats cry? Cat 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 cry? Eyes shut

Do cats have tear ducts?

Cats have tear ducts and therefore, the ability to produce tears. The tears they produce 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

Do cats cry? Sad ktten

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 the food, this may well result in your cat crying. 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.

Do cats cry? Two sad cats

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.

Do cats cry? Cat and children

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 then we try to never all go out at once.

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 exist.

Do cats cry? Teary cat

On 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.

Do cats cry? Sad cat

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.

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.


I'm Matt Pettitt, joint founder of the Pets Knowledge Base alongside my wife, Jane. Since I was just 2 years of age I've had pets in my life - which I don't mind admitting is 47 years! I strongly believe that when you introduce a pet into your family you should do everything you can to give it the best life possible. I've learned a lot during the past (almost) five decades and this blog gives me a medium to share everything I have learned ( both good and bad) about pets. If you'd like to know more about us, and how to contact us - take a look at our About page here!

Recent Content