Do cats cry when they are sad?

Crying is a natural biological response that can symbolize grief, pain, sadness, and even joy. It’s common among us humans, and it’s just one of the many ways we respond to a given situation.

But you may be wondering, “Do cats cry too and express their emotions with tears?”


Do cats cry?

The answer is both yes and no, and we’re going to explain this in this article.

Scientifically speaking, cats do not cry with tears when they are sad like humans do. But that doesn’t mean they don’t feel sadness or grief – they just have their own ways of expressing those emotions.

Mieshelle Nagelscheider, an expert cat whisperer, once explained that “Cats do not cry with tears rolling down their eyes, but they can get upset and sad, and they do a vocalization and scream out in pain, but not with tears.”

Basically, felines express their emotions in different ways. They may become destructive and menacing or act extremely bad and lethargic.

When cats are sad, depressed, or hurting, they tend to express their emotions by meowing excessively, scratching, hissing, hiding, and looking for ways to act badly.

So in simple words, cats do not cry tears when they’re said.

But they can have tears rolling down their eyes. Yes and that’s for different reasons.

Cats are emotional mammals

Research has shown that cats do have emotions. They can study your facial expressions, and experience a wide range of feelings about you.

Most times, when cats have feelings, they act on them. For example:

  • A happy cat may rub, play, purr, or otherwise engage with humans and other pets
  • A sad cat may become less energetic, lose their appetite, and withdraw

So what causes tears to roll down the eyes of your cat?

Why do cats have teary/watery eyes?

When a foreign body enters into your eyes as a human, how does it feel in your eyes? Your tears ducts tend to start leaking, right? You may also have teary eyes when you’re suffering from a medical condition or experiencing a harmless irritation.

Well, this happens not only with humans but also with cats.

Cat tears can be caused by:

  • Irritation
  • Allergies
  • Inflammation
  • Viral disease
  • Clogged tear ducts
  • Other types of eyesight-related issues

So, if you happen to be using harmful chemicals, carpet cleaners, and detergents, they may make your cat cry. Some allergens, chemicals, and dust particles present in the air irritate your feline furball’s sensitive body.

Again, food allergies can also trigger an allergic reaction in some cats. That’s more reason why you should consider only high-quality cat foods and offer them well-balanced meals every day.

More so, cats can suffer from a range of ailments, including viral diseases, infections, and conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. These conditions can make you feel like your cat is crying.

However, if you notice that your cat has repeated cases of teary eyes, it is advisable to quickly seek advice from your vet.

Your vet may or may not prescribe medications depending on the condition of your cat.

But don’t go on thinking the worst has happened to your feline friend. The tears could be caused by dust or triggered by some allergies, like food allergies. More so, mold and cigarette smoke can also make your cat have teary eyes.

Common signs that your cat is sad

Cats do not cry when they’re sad, instead, they show you some signs, including:

Vocal clues

You should already know how your cat meows when they are happy. So if you notice any changes- maybe they meow more or less than usual- it can be an audible indication of sadness. These unhappy sounds are usually low-pitched, mournful yowls.

Some cats that are normally quiet may turn up the volume, while the vocal ones may become quiet. This is a sign of sadness in cats and you should listen to what your feline friends need.

Aggression or fear

When a cat is sad, it tends to become aggressive and more reactive. You should observe your cat for behavior changes that make them abnormally aggressive. This can indicate that they are sad.

Body language

When a cat is sad, they sometimes show it in their body language. There are many ways they communicate silently, including tail tucked, ears held back, hair standing on end, and many other ways.

Excessive sleep

Cats are known to have a long shut-eye period, but when they are sad, they tend to sleep even more. They may also move from their favorite nap spot to another location.


A sad cat may lose complete interest in activities going on around them. They may become reclusive and hide.

Some cats can become clingy and demanding when they are sad. Their fear of strangers may become heightened during this period.

Change in appetite

Cats tend to stop eating or have a sudden change in appetite when they’re sad. Some cats may start to snub foods they previously love to eat, including their favorite treats.

Poor grooming

Sad cats tend to stop grooming themselves. So when you see your cat leaving very unkempt-looking coats, it can be a sign of sadness and ill-health.

Excessive scratching

When cats are not happy, they tend to start scratching objects more than usual, and they often do this to relieve stress and mark their territory.

Changes in bathroom habit

Some cats urinate in inappropriate places when they are sad. They often do this to use their scent to feel better.

Your cat may urinate in high-value areas like your bedroom, lookouts, or places where a loved one or pet diet. They spray their own scent to get relief.

Also, take note when your cat soils outside of the litter box. It could be a sign that they are sad.

What are the causes of sadness in cats?

Looking at the different signs of sadness above, you may wonder what could trigger these signs. There are different reasons why a cat becomes sad.

These feline companions tend to bond with family members, both human and non-human, and they express how they feel when things go wrong. More so, they might be unhappy due to a health condition. You just have to look closely and pay attention to them to understand how they feel.

Here are some common causes of sadness in cats:


When a cat sustains an injury, it limits their ability to do a lot of things. The pain from an injury can also affect their level of happiness.

So it is important that you follow your veterinarian’s recommendation regarding pain relief. You can schedule an appointment for your cat to be checked out.

Take note that old surgeries and injuries can also cause pain or discomfort in your cat, and this may require some chronic pain relief medications.

Loss of a loved one

You know how it feels losing a family member; cats feel bad too. The demise of a loved one may cause your cat to become sad and depressed. However, this is a temporary behavior that gets better with time.

If your cat is sad because of the death of another cat in the household, you can get a new cat friend for them. However, be cautious in adding a new member too soon.


Illness can cause your cat not to feel well. They may possibly be in pain, feel nauseated, have a hormonal imbalance, or lose appetite. All these can make them become sad and depressed.

Examples of conditions or health ailments that could affect your cat include fatty liver disease, FeLV, FIV, diabetes, upper respiratory disease, dental disease, hypothyroidism, and other serious health problems.

If you suspect any sign of sadness in your cat due to sickness, ensure you schedule a visit with your vet immediately.


Cats are emotional creatures but they do not cry when they’re sad. They may show other signs like aggression, hiding, poor grooming, excessive scratching, and more when they sad, but not with teary eyes.

The major reasons why a cat can have watery or teary eyes include allergies, inflammation, irritation, clogged tear ducts, viral disease, etc.

You should pay attention to your cat and show them more love and care when they show signs of sadness. And report cases of teary eyes to your vet for proper medication treatment.



Improve your cat's quality of life with these simple tricks which you can implement immediately.