When we see our feline friends with watery eyes, it’s easy to wonder if they're experiencing the same kinds of emotions as humans do, including sadness or grief. While cats can indeed feel a broad range of emotions, when it comes to tears, the reasons behind their watery eyes are more medical than emotional.

Understanding the difference between emotional and physical manifestations in cats is crucial for their well-being. This article delves into why cats might appear to be crying, shedding light on the medical issues that could be at play, and debunking the myth that cats cry tears the same way people do.

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  1. Do Cats Cry Tears
  2. What Does It Mean When a Cat Is Crying
  3. Why Does My Cat Cry at Night
  4. How to Stop Kitten from Crying
  5. FAQs
  6. Conclusion

Do Cats Cry Tears

Cats do produce tears, but not as a response to emotions like humans. Their tears are mainly for eye lubrication and can indicate health issues if there's excessive tearing. Emotional "crying" in cats is expressed through vocalizations, not tears, so watery eyes often signal a need for a veterinary check-up.

The image of a "crying cat" or "sad cat crying" garners a lot of attention and sympathy from cat lovers around the globe. Social media and the internet are awash with queries about "can cats cry," "do cats cry tears," or even more specific searches like "cat crying sound" and "kittens crying sounds." But what's the truth behind these watery expressions?

Firstly, it's essential to understand that cats do not cry tears as a response to emotional distress like humans. In her work on surgery for cats with chronic epiphora (excessive tears) , Dr. Kleiner is clear that while cats can experience emotions such as sadness, the presence of tears or watery eyes is typically a sign of a health issue rather than an emotional response.

This clarifies a common misconception and redirects the focus from emotional to physical health concerns. In other words, cats don’t cry when they are sad, they cry because something is physically wrong with them that is affecting their eyes.

Cats' tears, as Dr. Claudia Hartley mentions in her study, "Tears are a crucial part of maintaining eye health, providing lubrication and protecting against infections. However, an overflow, known as epiphora, can indicate underlying health problems."

This statement underlines the importance of observing our pets for signs of discomfort or disease rather than assuming they are capable of crying emotional tears.

The phenomenon of cats "crying" tears can be linked to various medical conditions, ranging from blocked tear ducts, known as nasolacrimal duct obstruction, to more serious issues like conjunctivitis, corneal ulcers, or even allergies. These conditions can cause discomfort and necessitate a visit to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Understanding the reasons behind your cat's watery eyes is the first step toward providing them with the care and attention they need. While the idea of a "crying cat" tugs at our heartstrings, recognizing these signs as potential health issues rather than emotional expressions is vital for the well-being of our feline friends.

What Does It Mean When a Cat Is Crying

If you've ever wondered, "Why is my cat crying tears?" or "What does it mean when a cat is crying?" it's crucial to understand that watery eyes in your feline friend, known as epiphora, are often a physical health issue rather than an emotional response to distress.

Cats communicate distress through various means, including vocalizations and behavioral changes, but when it comes to tears, the reasons are usually health-related.

Common Reasons for Epiphora in Cats

1. Eye Abnormalities in Certain Breeds

Certain cat breeds, particularly Persians and Exotic Shorthairs, are prone to eye abnormalities due to their facial conformation. Research highlights that these breeds often exhibit signs like hypoplasia of the nose leather and stenotic nares, which contribute to conditions like epiphora and entropion.

Dr. Kerstin Anagrius's study sheds light on this, noting the higher diversity in facial conformation characteristics in these breeds compared to non-purebred cats.

2. Blocked Tear Ducts

A common medical reason for watery eyes is blocked tear ducts. When the ducts responsible for draining tears are obstructed, it leads to an overflow, causing the appearance of a cat "crying."

3. Infections and Inflammations

Conditions such as conjunctivitis or infections in the eye can lead to increased tear production. These issues require prompt veterinary attention to prevent complications. Various viral infections in cats can also cause watery eyes.

4. Allergies

Just like humans, cats can suffer from allergies that affect their eyes, leading to symptoms like watery eyes and frequent blinking.

5. Foreign Bodies

Dust, dirt, or other foreign materials in the eye can irritate and cause excessive tearing.

Behavioral Signs of Distress (When A Cat Is Crying For Help)

Apart from physical symptoms, cats in distress may exhibit various behavioral changes. A cat that keeps crying vocally, shows changes in appetite, becomes more withdrawn, or displays increased aggression, might be signaling discomfort or illness. It's essential to observe these behavioral cues closely as they can provide insight into your cat's well-being.

Recognizing these warning signs and understanding the underlying causes of epiphora in cats are crucial steps in providing the necessary care and support for your feline companion. If you notice persistent watery eyes or any significant changes in your cat's behavior or health, it's important to seek veterinary assistance.

For situations requiring immediate attention, consider utilizing the Petcube’s Emergency Fund, which offers up to $3,000 coverage for emergency vet bills and includes unlimited 24/7 access to online vets for help. Blog readers can enjoy a special discount by visiting this link, ensuring you're prepared for any health issues that may arise.

Why Does My Cat Cry at Night

If your cat makes a lot of noise at night, you might wonder what's up. Cats do this for a few reasons, and figuring them out can help your cat be happier and quieter at night.

1. It’s Their Active Time

Cats like to be up and about when it's starting to get dark and early in the morning because they are nocturnal. This is when they would naturally hunt if they were outside. So, they might be more chatty because they're full of energy.

2. They Want Your Attention

At night, when everything’s quiet, your cat might feel lonely and call out for some company or playtime, especially if they've been by themselves all day.

3. They’re Stressed

Just like people, cats can feel stressed. Maybe there's something new in the house, or something has changed. This can make them meow more. This study talks about how stress affects cats and why they might cry more when they’re feeling uneasy.

4. Hungry or Thirsty

Sometimes, cats cry at night because they’re hungry or need water. Making sure they have a little food and fresh water before bedtime might help.

5. Not Feeling Well

If a cat isn’t feeling well or is getting older, they might meow more at night. This could be their way of telling you something’s wrong.

6. Looking for a Mate

If your cat isn’t fixed (spayed or neutered), they might meow a lot at night because they’re looking for a mate. This is common in cats that can have babies.
If your cat keeps you up at night by crying, it might help to play with them more during the day, make sure they have what they need like food and water, and give them a cozy place to sleep. If you’re worried they might be sick or very stressed, a trip to the vet can help figure out what’s wrong.

Also, keeping an eye on your cat, especially at night when they're more active or vocal, can help you understand what's going on with them. A Petcube Cam is a great tool for this. It lets you watch your cat from your phone, anytime and anywhere. This way, you can see if they’re just being playful, looking for food, or maybe showing signs that they need a vet. Plus, it can help you feel closer to your kitty, even when you're not at home.

How to Stop Kitten from Crying

Hearing a kitten cry can tug at your heartstrings. It’s natural to want to do everything you can to comfort them. Here are some tips to help soothe a crying kitten and ensure they feel safe and happy in their new home:

1. Create a Comfortable Space

Make sure your kitten has a cozy bed in a quiet, safe corner. Kittens love warmth and security, so a soft blanket in a snug area can make a big difference.

2. Keep Them Fed

A common reason kittens cry is hunger. Feeding them small, regular meals throughout the day can help keep their tummies full and reduce crying.

3. Play and Attention

Spend plenty of time playing with your kitten. Toys, gentle petting, and even talking to them can help form a strong bond and keep them from feeling lonely.

4. Routine is Key

Kittens feel more secure with a routine. Try to feed, play, and even sleep at the same times each day. This predictability can help reduce anxiety and crying.

5. Health Check

If your kitten continues to cry excessively (they have epiphora or watery eyes), it’s a good idea to visit the vet. They can rule out any health issues that might be causing discomfort.

6. Comforting Presence

Sometimes, all a kitten needs is to know you’re there. Having a piece of clothing with your scent in their bed or sleeping near them for the first few nights can be very comforting.

Understanding and addressing the reasons behind your kitten's cries can help create a peaceful environment for both of you. Monitoring their behavior is also essential, especially when you can't be with them all the time. The Petcube Cam is a fantastic way to keep an eye on your new kitten when you're away, ensuring they're safe and not in distress. Plus, it allows you to see the adorable moments you might otherwise miss!


Why does my cat cry when I leave?

Cats may cry when you leave due to separation anxiety or just missing your company. They form strong bonds with their owners and might feel lonely or anxious when you're not around. Providing a comforting item like a piece of clothing with your scent can help, as can leaving toys for entertainment.

Why does my cat cry after eating?

If your cat cries after eating, they could be expressing satisfaction or, conversely, discomfort. If this behavior is accompanied by signs of distress or changes in eating habits, it might indicate a health issue such as digestive discomfort. Observing their behavior and consulting a vet if this continues is advisable.

Why does my cat cry in the litter box?

Crying in the litter box often signals discomfort or pain, possibly due to urinary tract infections, kidney issues, or constipation. It's crucial to monitor this behavior closely and consult a vet for a thorough examination, as these conditions require medical attention.

Why is my kitten crying so much?

Kittens cry for several reasons, including hunger, loneliness, the need for comfort, or not feeling well. Ensuring they have a cozy space, regular meals, and plenty of playtime and cuddles can help. If the crying persists, it might be wise to consult a vet to rule out any health issues.

How can I comfort my crying kitten?

To comfort a crying kitten, provide them with a warm, safe sleeping area, engage in regular play sessions, and maintain a consistent feeding and sleeping routine. Sometimes, simply being near you and hearing your voice can also be very reassuring for them.

Is it normal for kittens to cry at night?

Yes, it's normal for kittens to cry at night. This behavior is often due to their natural activity cycles or feeling hungry, lonely, or insecure in their new environment. Creating a comfortable sleeping area and spending time comforting them before bedtime can help reduce nighttime crying.

When should I be concerned about my kitten crying?

If your kitten's crying is excessive or accompanied by signs of distress such as lethargy, lack of appetite, or unusual behavior, it's important to consult a vet. These could be signs of health issues that need professional attention.


Understanding why your kitten is crying and knowing how to respond is crucial for their well-being. By providing a nurturing environment, staying attentive to their needs, and ensuring they are healthy, you can help your kitten feel secure and loved. Regular check-ups with a vet are also key to keeping your kitten happy and healthy. Remember, a happy kitten is a quiet kitten.

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