1. Do Cats Cry?
Have you ever seen a cat shed tears while eating or doing something? Is it possible that cats cry because they feel sad or touched? Let’s find out!
1. Do Cats Cry?
Researchers have discovered that cats do have emotions. They can read human facial expressions and experience various feelings towards humans and other animals, like dogs for example.
However, cats express their emotions in a different way compared to humans:
- A happy cat may purr, headbutt, play, or interact with humans and other animals. An anxious, angry, or annoyed cat may make sounds similar to groaning or hissing. They also make different sounds to express their mood. You can learn more about “Meanings of Cat Sounds” to better understand your cat’s behavior.
- A sad cat may hide, lose interest in eating, or become less active.
- An angry or frightened cat may growl, arch its back, hiss, or attack humans or other animals.
So, do cats cry? Scientifically, the answer is no. Cats don’t cry when they feel sad like humans do. According to researchers, humans are the only species that cry when they experience strong emotions or pain.
Although they don’t shed tears due to sadness, cats still feel sadness, and they cry in their own way to express those emotions. When cats feel sad or hurt, they cry by meowing in a painful or desperate manner. Meowing is the sound of a cat crying, which is distressing and implies its level of sadness.
When does a cat cry? Cats cry when they lose a friend, a companion, miss their owner, or show loneliness or seek attention. Stressed cats can also cry, or they may be in pain and trying to tell you something important. Stress can make them more susceptible to illnesses. You should find out the reason and how to help your cat relieve its stress.
When separated from their companions for a long time, cats often show signs of depression such as loss of appetite, indifference, lack of interest in toys or regular activities, reduced grooming, ignoring people, avoiding using the litter box, and crying like a howl – more intense and louder.
2. Why Do Cats Shed Tears?
a. Is Cat Tears a Disease?
Cats shed tears for various reasons, but they are all pathological, not emotional. Cats often have watery eyes due to irritation caused by dust or scratches from other cats. Tears are a natural reflex that helps protect the eyes by flushing out irritants and cleaning the surface of the eyes.
Cats shed tears due to infections like upper respiratory tract infections. Cat flu is the most common (over 90% of cases) caused by calicivirus or herpesvirus in cats. Both viruses can lead to pus discharge from the eyes and conjunctivitis. Other symptoms of cat flu include sneezing, watery nose, teary eyes, sneezing, lethargy, inactivity, and fever.
Conjunctivitis (pink eye): This is the most common eye infection diagnosed in cats. In addition to watery eyes with discharge (which can dry and form scales), the surrounding areas of the eyes are also red and swollen. Conjunctivitis causes discomfort and pain. If not treated promptly, it can lead to eye damage, reduced vision, and even permanent blindness. Therefore, it is crucial to have your cat treated by a veterinarian.
- Eye infections can be caused by eye trauma or foreign objects in the eyes (e.g., dirt, sand). Newborn kittens can get eye infections from their mother’s vaginal infection at birth, as well as being born in an unsanitary environment.
Bacterial or viral diseases can also lead to eye infections that cause cats to shed tears. For example, feline chlamydophilosis, a bacterial disease, primarily causes eye (conjunctival) infections and conjunctivitis. Typically, cats with bacterial eye infections have green or yellow eye discharge, indicating bacterial infection.
- Allergy: Cats can be allergic to various substances such as pollen, dust, mold, chemicals, or food. Other signs that a cat may be experiencing an allergic reaction include sneezing, watery eyes, and itching. These symptoms are also common in many other diseases. We encourage you to learn about diseases that cause cats to sneeze and have a runny nose to treat them correctly.
Ulceration: Ulcers can cause excessive tearing and mucous secretion. Other signs of eye ulcers include red eyes, sensitivity to light, squinting or blinking, rubbing the eyes with paws, visible third eyelid, or opacity on the eyes.
Epiphora: This is a condition where a cat’s eyes continuously shed tears without a clear explanation. The lack of proper tear drainage (instead of all the tears being drained through the tear ducts) causes them to overflow onto the face. This condition makes the cat’s face always wet and creates two long streaks under its eyes with a rusty brown color. There are two main causes of excessive tearing in cats: clogged tear ducts or excessive tear production.
- Structural Issues: Exotic shorthair cats, also known as Persian cats, are more likely to shed tears than other cat breeds. Due to their flat and short faces, tears are unable to drain normally into the nose, leading to constant tearing and color smudging on their faces. These cats also have protruding eyes due to changes in skull shape, with reduced eyelid closure, resulting in increased exposure of the conjunctiva and possible conjunctivitis.
These flat-faced breeds are more prone to various illnesses due to their hybridization. Before deciding to adopt a Persian cat, you should learn more about the difficulties of raising a flat-faced cat.
b. How to Stop Cat Tears
Treating cat tear stains depends on the underlying cause. Your cat needs to be examined by a veterinarian to diagnose the cause and determine the appropriate treatment method (if necessary). The earlier the treatment, the better, as your cat may feel uncomfortable and in pain. As mentioned above, eye infections can lead to permanent eye damage and even blindness if left untreated.
If you see your cat shedding tears, it is important to know that they are not crying in the same way we do. Instead, they are showing you that something is not right in terms of their health. Typically, the problem is minor. However, in some cases, cat tears can be a sign of a serious condition or an underlying issue that will become severe if not treated properly.
Cat tears can be caused by:
- Upper respiratory infections
- Infections, eye inflammation, or ulcers
- Structural facial issues
If your cat’s excessive tearing occurs frequently, you should see a veterinarian. Comforting your cat by petting will not prevent the cat’s weeping eyes. Without timely treatment, your cat may suffer more severe illnesses and complications. The treatment for cat teary eyes will depend on the specific underlying cause.