Can A Cat Cry Real Tears?

Cats are fascinating creatures that have a knack for leaving us perplexed by their behaviors and emotions. As a cat parent, you may have noticed your furry companion shedding tears in response to certain situations, which begs the question – can a cat cry real tears? Well, it’s not a straightforward answer.

While most animals, including dogs, use their tear ducts to keep their eyes moistened, cats’ tear ducts primarily serve to drain any excess fluids from their eyes. This has led many to believe that cats do not experience emotions. However, research has shown that our feline friends are highly emotional beings.

When it comes to shedding tears, cats are more complicated than we might think. While they may not cry like humans do, they do produce watery fluid from their eyes. This fluid is typically released in response to irritation or injury and is commonly known as ‘reflex tears.’

So, can cats cry real tears? The answer is nuanced, but one thing is clear – cats are incredibly expressive animals who can convey a range of emotions through body language and vocalizations. As we delve deeper into the topic of cat tears, we’ll explore the different types of tears that cats produce and why understanding your cat’s emotions is crucial for maintaining a healthy relationship with your feline friend.

Anatomy of Cat Tears

The answer is a resounding yes. However, the anatomy of cat tears is quite different from human tears and holds several fascinating insights.

Cat tears originate from the lacrimal gland located in the upper outer corner of the eye. This gland produces a watery fluid that lubricates and moisturizes the eye. When a cat blinks, this fluid spreads across the eye’s surface, collecting dirt and debris. Then it flows through two small openings in the inner corner of the eye into the nasal cavity.

The most striking difference between human and cat tears is their composition. While human tears contain cortisol or adrenaline, cat tears contain an enzyme called lysozyme. This enzyme is responsible for fighting bacterial infections and keeping their eyes clean, making it a vital component of their tear composition.

Your cat’s blinking or squinting might indicate an eye infection or injury, prompting them to produce more lysozyme-filled tears to combat bacteria. It’s also worth noting that tear staining is common in some cats when tears overflow from their eyes due to allergies, blocked tear ducts, or genetics.

Do Cats Express Emotions?

In fact, cats experience a wide range of emotions and express them in their own unique way. From body language to vocalizations, let’s explore how cats communicate their feelings.

Body language is a significant way that cats express themselves. A happy and content cat will have a raised tail with a curved tip, while an annoyed or agitated cat will have a twitching tail. If they feel threatened or scared, their tail will puff up like a bottle brush.

Additionally, cats use their eyes to communicate their mood. Their pupils dilate or constrict depending on how they’re feeling. Large pupils indicate happiness or excitement, while smaller pupils signify stress or fear.

Vocalizations are another important method of communication for cats. A loud meow can signify hunger or excitement, while a low growl typically indicates aggression or fear. Purring often means your cat is content and happy.

While cats don’t produce tears like humans do, they do have tear ducts that produce moisture to lubricate their eyes. Excessive tearing may indicate an underlying health issue like an eye infection or allergy.

Cats are capable of experiencing a range of emotions such as joy, fear, anger, and sadness. They can even experience more complex emotions such as jealousy, anxiety, and grief. For instance, if a cat loses a companion or owner, they may show signs of depression such as decreased appetite or lethargy.

Can Cats Cry Real Tears?

While cats are known for their expressive behavior and vocalizations, it’s essential to understand that not every tear shed by your furry friend means they are experiencing emotional pain.

Although cats have tear ducts and produce tears for lubrication, the reasons for tear production can be many. Cats may experience eye irritation, allergies, or infections, resulting in excessive tear production. However, some experts in feline behavior argue that cats can indeed shed real tears in response to strong emotions.

Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a veterinary behaviorist at Tufts University, suggests that cats may shed tears as a form of emotional release when experiencing extreme stress or pain. This response is different from human crying as it doesn’t necessarily indicate sadness but rather a physical manifestation of intense feelings.

Despite this claim, there is still limited scientific evidence supporting the idea that cats can cry real tears in response to emotional stimuli. Some studies suggest that felines lack the necessary brain structures to experience complex emotions like humans.

Medical Conditions That Cause Excessive Tearing in Cats

Cats are known for their aloof demeanor, but when it comes to excessive tearing, it’s important to take notice. Epiphora, or excessive tearing in cats, can be caused by various medical conditions. It’s important to note that not all cases of excessive tearing mean that the cat is emotionally upset. In fact, cats do not have the emotional capability to cry like humans do. So what could be the cause?

One common medical condition that can cause excessive tearing in cats is conjunctivitis. This inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the thin layer of tissue that covers the white part of the eye and lines the inner eyelid, can be caused by bacterial or viral infections, allergies or other irritants.

Another condition that can cause excessive tearing in cats is a blocked tear duct. The tear ducts are responsible for draining tears from the eyes into the nasal cavity. If they become blocked or obstructed, tears can accumulate in the eye and cause staining around the eye area.

Certain breeds of cats are also more prone to developing excessive tearing due to their facial structure. For example, Persians and Himalayans have flatter faces and larger eyes, which can cause their tears to overflow and stain the fur around their eyes.

But excessive tearing could also be a symptom of a more serious underlying health issue such as glaucoma or a corneal ulcer. It’s important to consult with a veterinarian if you suspect your cat has excessive tearing to determine the underlying cause and receive proper treatment.

If you notice your feline friend has excessive tearing, don’t hesitate to take them to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment. The vet will perform a thorough examination to determine the underlying cause of your cat’s excessive tearing and provide you with a treatment plan tailored to your feline’s specific needs.

How to Tell if a Cat is Crying Real Tears

They can be playful, aloof, and affectionate all at once. However, determining whether your cat is crying real tears can be a difficult task. Nonetheless, there are a few signs that you can look for to determine if your cat is genuinely upset.

Observe Their Behavior

The first thing you need to do is observe your cat’s behavior closely. If your cat is feeling sad or upset, they may become more withdrawn than usual, hiding more frequently, or not interested in activities they typically enjoy. Similarly, if your cat is meowing loudly or more often than usual, this could indicate that they are feeling emotional.

Check Their Eyes

Cats’ eyes can become red and swollen when they cry, just like humans. If you notice that your cat has red and watery eyes or is squinting excessively, it could indicate that they are crying real tears. However, it’s important to note that cats have tear ducts that can become blocked or infected, leading to excess tears production.

Look for Wet Fur

If you see tears streaming down your cat’s face, it’s a clear indication that they are upset and crying real tears. Additionally, if you notice wet fur around their eyes or on their cheeks, it could also be a sign of emotional distress. However, it’s essential to distinguish between tears produced from emotions versus physical pain or irritation.

Pay Attention to Their Nose

A running nose or frequent sneezing can be a sign of emotional distress in cats. However, these symptoms could also indicate allergies or other medical conditions. If you see these symptoms along with other signs of emotional distress in your cat, consult with a veterinarian to rule out any medical issues.

Know Your Cat’s Personality

Each cat has its unique personality and may express their emotions in different ways. Some cats may become more clingy or affectionate when they are upset, while others may prefer to be alone. Paying attention to your cat’s individual quirks and behaviors can help you better understand when they are feeling upset or emotional.

How to Comfort a Cat in Distress

Cats are beloved pets, but they can experience distress just like any other animal. As a cat owner, it is crucial to know how to comfort your feline friend when they are feeling anxious or upset. Here are five ways to help your cat feel more comfortable during times of distress.

Identify the Source of Their Distress

Before you can comfort your cat, it is important to identify the source of their distress. Cats can become distressed for many reasons, including illness, changes in routine, loud noises, or separation anxiety. Once you have identified the cause, you can take steps to address it and help your cat feel more comfortable.

Create a Safe and Quiet Space

Cats often seek out small and enclosed spaces when they are feeling anxious or stressed. You can create a safe space for your cat by setting up a cozy bed in a quiet room where they can retreat when they need some alone time. This will give them a sense of security and help ease their anxiety.

Use Pheromone Sprays or Diffusers

Pheromone sprays or diffusers release calming scents that can help reduce stress and anxiety in cats. These products mimic the pheromones that cats produce naturally to mark their territory and feel more secure. They can be found at most pet stores and are easy to use.

Provide Plenty of Positive Reinforcement

Offering treats, playing with your cat’s favorite toys, or simply spending time cuddling and petting them can help comfort a distressed cat. Positive reinforcement can help distract them from their anxiety and make them feel loved and secure.

Use Soothing Sounds

Soft music or white noise can create a peaceful environment that helps your cat feel more at ease. Alternatively, you can try playing nature sounds such as birds chirping or waves crashing, which can be particularly soothing for cats.

It is important to remember that if your cat’s distress persists or becomes severe, it may be necessary to seek professional help from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist. These experts can provide further guidance on how to comfort your cat and address any underlying issues that may be causing their distress.


To sum up, while cats may not shed tears in the same way humans do, they are capable of producing real tears. However, the reasons behind this phenomenon are more complex than we might assume. Cats produce watery fluid from their eyes primarily to maintain ocular hygiene and eliminate excess fluids. If your feline friend is experiencing excessive tearing, it could signify an underlying medical condition such as allergies or eye infections.

When it comes to understanding our cats’ emotions, body language and vocalizations play a crucial role. While cats don’t cry like humans do, they are highly emotional beings who express themselves in unique ways. As responsible cat owners, it’s essential to know how to comfort our furry friends when they’re feeling anxious or upset.

Identifying the source of their distress and creating a calm space for them can help alleviate their anxiety. Positive reinforcement and soothing sounds can also be useful tools in calming a distressed cat.

In conclusion, cats are fascinating creatures that require attention and care from their owners.

By understanding their emotions and behaviors better, we can create stronger bonds with our feline companions that will last a lifetime.