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Do cats cry?

Close up cat's eye advice
© Pexels

Does your cat make a crying sound or shed the occasional tear? It’s very easy to assign human emotions to a cat, but those alien critters work quite differently from us

By G. John Cole

A cat crying at night can ruin everyone’s sleep. And it’s difficult to be sympathetic towards a creature that has never shown you the least kindness. But still, you want it to stop, right? Bite that lower lip, and let’s see what crying cats are all about.

Crying cat: do cats cry when sad?

Despite their sociopathic nature, cats do feel sad or get depressed from time to time. However, their feelings can’t really be connected to the social-intellectual feelings of a human or the empathetic feels of a dog. 
And while your cat may make a kind of sad meowing noise when unhappy, it is not crying as such.
“Cats can do a really sad meow, but it’s not like crying,” says ‘Cat Whisperer’ Mieshelle Nagelschneider in Parade. “It’s not tears rolling and bawling like people, no, but they can still feel that emotion, that sadness.”
But while a cat crying sound, as long as it is meow-ish, can indicate sadness, tears never do.

“My opinion if we’re talking about [cats] crying tears is that it would be mostly associated with ocular discomfort,” agrees Dr. Sheri Morris of the Willamette Valley Animal Hospital in Keizer. “Ocular discharge is associated with viral disease, allergies, and infection.”

Therefore, if your cat appears to be crying tears it is important to take the creature to the vet to see what is irritating its eyes. Your cat’s vet will try to narrow down the possible causes, and probably suggest treatment such as antibiotics, allergy pills, or something else. 
In the case of an allergy, you may also need to make some changes at home. This can include swapping up your detergent brand, keeping windows closed, or just hoovering more often.

If it’s a vocal form of crying rather than tears, you will need to work out what is causing your cat distress. It might not be plain ‘unhappiness.’

Cat crying because it hurts so bad

For example, your cat may make a crying kind of meow sound if it is ill or injured and in discomfort or pain. This is particularly the case if your cat hisses or growls at you, too - it is either trying to protect itself or draw your attention.
Of course, you’ll need to take your cat to the vet to find out exactly what’s wrong. But in the meantime you can examine the creature for injuries or other symptoms. Be careful, because if you touch a tender spot you might just get a claw in the eye.

It can be more straightforward to observe your cat for symptoms from a distance. A limp, for example, or a bloody or bald patch. Excessive crying at night can be a sign of overactive thyroid or kidney disease. Be wary if your cat is peeing or drinking more, and always look out for unexplained changes in the creature’s weight.

Related to poor health, older cats may make crying-type noises if they are suffering from cat dementia and are disoriented by their surroundings.

Cat crying because it can’t stand the atmosphere

If you don’t reckon it’s a health issue, the crying noise could be connected to unhappiness with the cat’s environment. Perhaps the creature doesn’t get outside enough. This could be because you keep it as a house cat, or because there’s a predator in the area and moggy is scared to go out. 
Letting your cat outside at night can be a good idea. That said, you might start to hear a very special kind of cat cry. The otherworldly awfulness of cat mating sounds. So think twice if your cat has not been neutered.

Cat crying because things never stay the same

It could be a change to the environment that has upset your precious kitty. A new baby or pet could make the cat feel threatened.
Don’t undo changes to appease your crying cat unless the initial change caused a genuine physical problem for it (i.e. it has become difficult for the cat to reach its litter tray). Wait a few days for your cat to get used to the changes. You can do other stuff to make him feel more comfortable – make sure it’s bed is comfortable, or move it somewhere safe and comforting.

A crying cat is a miserable affair for all within hearing distance. But with a bit of empathy and/or medical attention, you’ll soon be able to turn down the volume.