Cats do not cry tears as an emotional response. Cats can produce tears, we know that. Therefore they have the ability to cry. A cat will produce tears for health reasons. For example if there is a foreign body in the eye or if the cat suffers from an allergy or one of a range of medical reasons. My late boy cat, Charlie, had cancer behind his left eye and teared up all the time.
The thing about tears of emotion; tears of sadness and joy is that we don’t know for sure why it happens in humans which is not a good starting point to try and figure out why it does not happen in cats.
Some experts think that humans cry to get rid of toxins and to relieve stress. My thoughts are that people cry to produce a visual signal to others indicating the state of mind of the person with the aim of eliciting a certain response e.g. sympathy. If crying for emotional reasons is about a form of communication then cats don’t need it.
And that theory, I think, works out quite nicely. If crying was about expelling toxins from the body then you could argue that cats would have this facility as well as their anatomy is similar to ours. However, if we decide that crying tears of emotion are about a form of communication it makes sense that cats don’t do it because they don’t need to communicate the fact that they are emotionally upset and in a vulnerable state. This is because cats like to hide their emotions in the interests of survival.
We know that cats hide pain. It can be difficult to tell when a cat is happy or sad. Cats project a very even emotional state.
Without any firm scientific evidence as to why humans cry tears, and without any definitive information about why domestic cats don’t cry tears of emotion, I’m going to conclude that cats don’t need to use tears as a form of communication or do not have the depth of emotion which leads them to produce tears. The range of emotions of the domestic cat and the depth of those emotions is also currently a mystery to humans. We are learning about them. We have a better understanding of them but this is work in progress. As crying is linked to emotions, it is one more reason why we have to speculate as to why cats don’t cry tears.
What do you think?
Did you find this article useful and interesting? Can it be improved? Please tell me in a comment. I am always keen to improve the site for animal welfare and reader enjoyment.