Can Cats Cry Tears? Do They Cry When They’re Sad Or In Pain?

Can cats cry actual tears the way we humans do?

When it comes to people, tears are a natural biological response and can symbolize pain, grief, sadness, and even joy. It’s just one of the many ways our organisms respond to a given situation.

But can the same be said for feline creatures?

The answer is both yes and no.

So helpful, right? I know, but let’s talk about this.

When your kitty is sad, scared, depressed, or hurting, it is indeed feeling and expressing emotions by hissing, meowing excessively, scratching, hiding, and basically finding ways to act out improperly.

Felines express opinions and emotions in different ways. They may become menacing and destructive or switch to the other extreme and start acting lifeless and lethargic.

So let’s just get this out of the way: No, cats do not cry tears when they’re sad or in pain or feeling emotional.


They can and do cry tears.

So if it’s not an emotional response, why are your kitty’s tear ducts leaking?

Why And When Do Cats Cry?

Human eyes get wet when they sense a foreign body, when we’re suffering from a medical condition, when we’re experiencing a harmless irritation, or even when we come into contact with the Fel-1 allergen agent, which cats produce.

Similarly, cat tears can be caused by:

  • allergies,
  • irritation,
  • inflammation,
  • clogged tear ducts,
  • viral diseases, and
  • other types of eyesight-related health issues.

If you happen to be using harmful carpet cleaners, detergents, and chemicals, they may make your kitty cry. Some chemicals, allergens, and dust particles remain airborne and as such, they can easily irritate your feline furball’s sensitive body.

Food allergies are also common for many cats and may trigger an allergic reaction. That’s one of the main reasons why you should feed your pet high quality cat food and serve it well-balanced meals at all times.

Why Don’t Cats Cry Emotional Tears?

Felines are complex creatures.

Instead of crying tears like humans, cats show their emotional side in various other ways. For example, they may cry in the form of excessive meowing, though some cats are just naturally more vocal, like the Oriental Shorthair.

Kitties may scream and meow. They may pee outside the litter box. They may claw your furniture, and they may act out in a vast variety of ways when they’re feeling unhappy, but they won’t cry tears.

And unlike humans, cats also won’t cry when they’re happy. Instead, they’ll purr; they’ll rub against you; they’ll seek your attention. They’ll refuse to leave the furniture piece or item which is making them happy. Basically, they’ll give you signs, but you’ll never see them cry tears of joy.

The only tears your cat will ever shed will be related to an unpleasant physical issue instead of an emotional one.

If you see your kitty has persistently teary eyes, you need to alert your vet.

Whatever the cause of the tears is, don’t ever attempt to self-diagnose your pet. Schedule an appointment with your vet for an emergency check-up as soon as possible and make sure to tell the doctor if you’ve changed your cat’s food, furniture pieces, toys, and cleaning detergents.

Always keep harmful chemicals out of your cat’s reach and be careful with which detergents you’re cleaning its bed, toys, and other similar items.

Your vet may or may not prescribe medication and further long-term treatment depending on your feline pal’s condition.

Nevertheless, don’t rush into thinking the worst. The tears could be triggered by dust particles or by some common allergy, like food allergies. Mold and cigarette smoke can also make your cat cry tears.

Always treat your cat’s mental and physical health as your priority and don’t miss any scheduled check-ups with your vet. If you suspect that there’s something wrong with your feline pal, seek professional help at once. Your pet will return the favor and will cherish you for all your efforts.

Emily Parker

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!