Do cats shed tears?

Clipart cat crying

Image: Istockphoto

Do cats shed tears? Yes, cats shed tears but the question almost certainly means: Do cats cry? I hope that is what the public is getting at when they ask Google this question.

In answer to the question I believe that it can be said with confidence that cats do not shed tears because they are crying as humans do. We are told that women cry on average 50 times annually while men cry ten times per year. Crying for non-emotional reasons is called ‘lacrimation’. Cats like humans have the same apparatus to produce tears, the lacrimal gland or tear gland. It is situated at the top edge of the eye. The eye needs water to function properly. This applies to both humans and cats. Ducts allow tears to drain into the nose.

Position of lacrimal gland in cats


Do you agree with me or perhaps you feel strongly that cats do cry when emotionally upset or very happy? On the basis that I am correct it does not mean that cats don’t shed tears for other reasons such as a foreign object in their eye. My conclusion about cats not crying is confirmed by a Google search either in a general search or through images. There are no pictures of cats crying. I’d call that simple proof and definitive; not that I need it. You’ll see clipart of drawings of cats crying and photoshopped versions but no real stuff.

Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

The big question is why is this? Domestic cats, we know, have emotions but we don’t know much about the depth or variety of their emotions. As cats don’t cry emotional tears it might suggest that cats don’t feel sufficiently sad or elated to cry. I must say, I do have a sense that domestic cats do not feel sadness and happiness to the extent that humans do and therefore it might be a reason why they don’t cry. As mentioned they do have the anatomical ability to shed tears. We can see tears when a cat’s eye ‘waters’ if there is a foreign body in it or for some other medical reason. For instance by late male three-legged cat has a weeping left eye because he had cancer behind the eye.

Human crying

Photo: Rex Features. Words added.

Humans seem to have a physical need to cry. It can reduce stress apparently. It also helps to detox the body. It seems that we don’t know exactly why people shed tears of emotion but the consensus is that it is beneficial probably by purging toxins and hormones that have built up due to stress. Also I am told that human tears contain a natural painkiller, called leucine enkephalin which may make us feel better. Perhaps a more important reason why humans cry is to send a signal to others of distress and upset or elation and happiness. It seems that cats do not have this need.

Please tell me what you thin about cats crying.

Associated: List of cat eye diseases.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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