Facts about the animal kingdom

Why Does a Cat Cry All the Time?

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. September 16, 2018
Why Does a Cat Cry All the Time?

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Of course, there are many reasons why a cat might cry, mewl or yowl. Each circumstance needs to be considered and the well-being, health and behavioral characteristics of the cat will help us to determine why your cat is crying al the time. However, there are some general reasons and common situations why this might be the case. Cats do not cry like humans with tears and sobbing. Instead, they emit an acute and pitiful meow which usually corresponds to some feeling of desperate need they want satisfied. This need is usually one of the fundamentals, such as food, water or even just attention. However, a cat may also cry for a more serious reason which could require a trip the veterinarian. AnimalWised explains further so you know when a cat's cry is a healthy form of feline communication and when this may not be the case.

You may also be interested in: Why Does My Dog Cry When I Go Out?


  1. Interpreting a cat's meow
  2. Why do cat's cry like babies?
  3. Why do cats cry in the night?
  4. Why does my cat cry at the door?
  5. Do cats cry when they are sick?
  6. Do cats cry when they are sad?

Interpreting a cat's meow

To explain why cat's cry, we need to know that vocalizations such as meowing or mewling are part of a healthy feline to human communication strategy. It does not necessarily mean they are sad or depressed. Also important to note is that cat's do not cry with tears. If we see tears, weeping or other secretions coming from their eyes, it is likely an indication of an obstruction in the tear duct. Yellowish secretion is particularly concerning as it implies there is an infection which needs to be treated by a vet.

Meowing is something kittens do to their mothers, but adult cats will rarely meow at other cats. Instead, they meow to their human caregivers as they see them in a similarly parental role. They do have other vocalizations when they communicate with cats, but a lot of feline communication is down to non-verbal body language. While it may see, like a cat is crying out, this will not be the case. They will be crying out for some reason, it may just be that we cannot comprehend what this reason may be. We should bear this in mind if we find they are crying continuously. We should not ignore them and we should certainly not scold them for simply expressing themselves.

Why Does a Cat Cry All the Time? - Interpreting a cat's meow

Why do cat's cry like babies?

The sound of a cat's cry might be acute, often reminding us of the sounds human newborns make. Like babies, the sound can have different meanings depending on their need. In the first weeks of life, kittens cry to get their mother's attention, usually if they are feeling hungry, cold or afraid. Staying with their mother for a sufficient amount of time is very important for a kitten's start in life. It is recommended they stay with them for a period of a minimum 8 weeks, although many will leave it until 12 weeks. If they don't have this important developmental period, it can lead to behavioral problems later in life. If you have a kitten removed from their mother too soon, they will be likely to meow and cry. If this happens to you, our article on how to feed a newborn kitten might be of help.

When the kitten grows into adolescence and adulthood, a cat will often cry because they want food, because they are scared or for other reasons. You need to take a look at the context of the cry. For example, if the cat is crying near an empty food bowl, it is likely that they want some food. When the cat gets older, it is possible they will be more likely to cry due to the aging process.

Why do cats cry in the night?

One of the main reasons a cat might cry during the night is due to their heat cycle. If we live with an unsterilized cat, it is very common for them to cry and meow incessantly and desperately. If we live in a place which has other cat's nearby, this is particularly likely they will cry out. The heat cycle in female cats is affected by sunlight and can occur throughout the majority of the year. Male cats do not have a heat cycle, but an unsterilized male will have a strong desire to mate which can lead to crying at night.

In addition to crying during their heat cycle or frustration over not being able to mate, cats will often be nervous, prone to escape attempts, mark everywhere with urine and even get into fights. If the cat does get in a fight or mates with another, it is possible to transmit diseases such as feline immunodeficiency or leukemia viruses. For all these reasons and more, it is important to sterilize your cat.

Additionally, in kittens or cats which have been newly introduced to a new home, it is common to hear them crying or meowing at night. The reason is similar to that discussed in the previous section, which is part of the adaptation period. Cats require routine, meaning they can be very susceptible to changes and require space and time to adapt to them. Offer love, patience and respect to the cat to avoid overwhelming them and worsening the situation. You can look at the signs of how to know if a cat trusts you to learn more.

Why Does a Cat Cry All the Time? - Why do cats cry in the night?

Why does my cat cry at the door?

The place where a cat cries is part of understanding the context. A cat crying at the door is a common scenario, sometimes explained by the heat cycle or desire to mate. They cry due to a desire to get out and meet other cats. However, there are other possible reasons a cat might cry at the door:

  • If a cat is accustomed to going outside, it is normal for them to cry to either let them in or out. This can be difficult if we are not always around to do so, so a pet door or catflap can be installed to let them enter on their own.
  • If we get home and the cat is waiting at the door and crying, it may be their way of greeting you or complaining about being home alone for a long time.
  • Cats like to go to places to hide, so it is possible for a cat to cry next to a room or closet door so they can enter. Equally, they may feel cooped up and want to get out to roam around.
  • If they are crying next to a door inside the house, they may be protesting because they want something inside such as food, a toy or simply a place to rest.
Why Does a Cat Cry All the Time? - Why does my cat cry at the door?

Do cats cry when they are sick?

On other occasions, a cat might be crying because they are suffering from a health problem. The cat's cry many be a manifestation of pain, exemplified by the following situations:

Why do cats cry when they eat?

In these cases, a cat may cry while eating due to a dental or oral problem. It could also be a condition called feline rhinotracheitis which has pain when swallowing as one of its symptoms. They may stop eating and loe weight as a consequence. This condition requires veterinary treatment.

Why do cats cry when they go to the bathroom?

If a cat cries when they need to urinate, it may be due to a urinary infection. They may go to their litter box many times, but do not eliminate much urine. It is a painful process which will need veterinary treatment. They may also cry when eliminating stool. This could be due to a gastrointestinal problem, constipation, anal prolapse or other issues.

Why do cats cry tears?

As we said before, a cat will cry tears usually as an indication of an underlying health problem. This will be related to their ocular system, about which you can read more in our article detailing why a cat's eyes may be red. However, it is also possible they will tear up as the resulting of cooking onions, chilis or something which is creating a lot of smoke.

Why Does a Cat Cry All the Time? - Do cats cry when they are sick?

Do cats cry when they are sad?

Although there is no scientific evidence to affirm or deny a cat will cry due to sadness or grief, we do know that they are capable of experiencing emotions. If they feel joy or sadness, they can react in different ways. Cats often live with other cats and form strong bonds. When one cat dies or has to leave the home for whatever reason, it is possible the cat may meow or cry more than normal. They may not know where the other cat has gone and is confused or upset. A similar situation can happen when a human family member departs.

While there may be many reasons a cat might cry, it is important to distinguish between mental stress and physical harm. If a cat is crying, but there appears to be no reasonable cause for it, then take them to the vet for assessment.

If you want to read similar articles to Why Does a Cat Cry All the Time?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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Why Does a Cat Cry All the Time?