Do Cats Cry Real Tears?

Readers Talk Back

Photo of Sad Woman Holding Cat
Sad Woman Holding Cat. Getty / jean gill

When I posted a FAQ titled " Do Cats Cry Real Tears?" my readers rushed to an opposite viewpoint. Although strictly anecdotal, some of their stories about seeing cats cry from apparent pain and/or sadness are very poignant. This question is obviously quite an emotional issue for many cat lovers. In this case, I was persuaded to reconsider my opinion, although in all the years I've lived with cats, I've never personally witnessed a cat crying real tears.

Readers Have Their Say

From Solitaire:
"I have had to leave my 6-month-old kitten and dog alone while I work lately. She loves the dog. Then I had to take the dog to my mother's and the kitten spent her first day all alone. She was ecstatic when I returned. The next morning, the dog still gone, I had been playing with the kitten, but I had to go to work, so I picked up the keys. I locked up the house and walked over to say goodbye, and two big tears were falling, one from each eye. To me, it was obvious. Cats do cry. To imagine that an animal with volatile emotions and tear ducts don't cry is pure human hubris. We're not THAT different! Emotions + pain + tear ducts = tears."

Patricia Said:
"I had a big black tom cat some years ago with whom I had a very special bond. He had to have an op on his ear because of a fight he'd got into. The vet refused to give me painkillers for him stating that they wouldn't do any good, and would slow down the healing process.

I found him sitting on the table staring out the window when I got home from work the next day. When I called him, he turned to look at me with huge golden eyes filled with tears & pain. It made me cry. It was dreadfully frustrating & painful watching him suffer. He made a full recovery, but I don’t think my heart ever did."

Sheri Said:
"Yesterday, one of my cats of thirteen years died. I found her after a stroke (her back legs paralyzed and in tremendous pain) and the vet had to put her down. It was the very first day my other cat spent at home alone without the other cat. When I returned home and settled down, the remaining cat came and sat on my lap. She was looking at me and then tilted her head down for a while. When she looked back up at me her eyes were filled with tears. I have never seen such a thing.

She, nor the other cat had ever had any eye gunk, and I have never had to wipe their eyes before. Of course, my tears fell too because there was no explanation for this other than she was telling me she knew the other cat would not be returning and was sad. She had seen the condition of the other cat before I took her to the vet. She was the one who led me to the other cat when I woke up in the morning."

From Sophia:
My cat who was my soul mate came home from the vet after an operation; she started writhing around and screaming and in such pain, and then she looked at me and cried - I can’t get it out of my head.

We rushed her to the emergency, she died 2 days later, the vet had butchered her. She was 23 and I miss her like crazy.

She had never cried before. I told the vet, this big 'feline specialist' she was crying tears, he said 'Cats can't do that.' Idiot."

From Cheryl:
"My cat just scared himself so badly that he is under the bed with tears in his eyes. He got caught in a Valentine’s day balloon ribbon and thought the balloon was after him. Although hilarious at the moment, I truly thought he could have scared himself to death. Mr. Tough Guy is under the bed crying, which leads me here. I don’t think it made me feel any better having it confirmed that yes, they are tears."

Janet Says:
"My cat Kimba died in my house yesterday of old age and I’m a mess. I have two other cats, Hero and Lulu. Hero is running around crazy scared at everything and everyone right now, but last night he was at the windows crying out. I was crying, and my cat Lulu came over as to comfort me.

Then she went over to Kimba’s favorite spot, and I could not believe it. Tears! She turned, as to hide her face. Immediately I stopped crying, and decided to comfort her."

Arash Posted:
"We are taking care of a neighbor’s cat who left the apartment one day and abandoned the cat. The cat can’t come in as my brother is allergic to them, but we give him food in our balcony, but the cat is a home cat. So tonight he walked in the house while the door was opened and we opened the door and directed him to leave.

After he left, I saw him on the balcony with tears in his eyes. He then actually shed tears. I had never seen this before and was heartbroken. It was amazing. I wish I could let him in the house. They do have emotions and do cry!"

Brandy Says:
"My cats, Smokey and Buster, are 15 and 13. Well, Smokey died a year ago and when Buster saw his body before we buried him, we saw tears in his eyes. He then just sat and watched as we covered Smokey up. He was very sad because they were raised together."

From Christine:
"My cat Inky died last Wednesday. I had to put her to sleep. My other cat, EJ, sat in the box I took Inky in all night. In the morning there were tears in his eyes. He has been like that for three days. Yes, I believe they can cry. They were together for fourteen years."

From Jennifer
"Yesterday my baby Holly got out (she is an indoor only cat). When I found her an hour later she was very upset and nuzzled against my neck like she did when she was a kitten, I felt water so I looked at her and she was crying real tears. I later heard from a neighbor kid that he saw my cat get KICKED by a guy who lives in my apartment building. Later in the day, Holly was still crying. It is obvious that cats can cry when they are hurt or upset."

Bailey Wraps it Up:
"Hey, this happens with one of my cats quite often. Most of the time it seems it’s because she’s staring out the window - and I swear- wistfully. Last night she and my other cat started real fighting (caterwauling meows and it got ugly) over a male stray they saw outside the window.

After the crying one started backing off, my other cat was still pissed. I watched as her eyes started welling up with tears, almost as if she was saddened by the conflict between them. I was baffled."