Can Cats Cry Tears?

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If you own a cat, you’ve probably heard it cry dozens of times. Meowing and purring are cats’ ways of crying to express pain, misery, or even happiness. 

But do cats cry actual tears? The answer is yes, and for many different reasons. Cats get tears in their eyes because they have tear ducts like humans and many other mammals. 

Why Do Cats Have Tears?

Tear ducts in humans and cats function similarly—they are tunnels through which tears pass. But while human tears are often caused by emotions, cat tears are primarily due to certain underlying conditions.

Here are some of the reasons why cats get tears in their eyes:


According to the VCA Animal Hospitals, allergies are some of the most common medical conditions in cats. They manifest when a cat’s immune system becomes hypersensitive to allergens or foreign substances. 

Tearing up is a common symptom of an allergy flare in cats. Other symptoms include itching, coughing, sneezing, flatulence, diarrhea, and vomiting.

There are four primary reasons for allergies in cats:

1. Food Allergy

Cats can be allergic to certain types of food, especially those that are rich in protein, like beef, chicken, pork, and turkey. Food additives may also cause allergies in cats. 

If your cat is tearing up regularly and you have ruled out fleas, it may be because of the food it is eating. Try changing the food brand or variety and check your cat’s reaction to it. You can also set an appointment with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate steps to diagnose and treat a food allergy in your cat.

According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, a worsening allergic reaction may lead to more severe symptoms, such as skin lesions and hair loss. 

2. Flea Allergy

Cat fleas are common problems in domestic cats. Fleas jump from other pets or stray animals in the neighborhood. When a flea bites a cat, saliva is injected into the skin of the cat and provokes an allergic reaction that includes tears. 

To prevent flea infestations, make sure your cat remains indoors at all times and doesn’t mingle with other pets. If you have other pets at home, check their fur and treat them accordingly.

To treat cats with fleas, check out topicals for fleas and ticks. You can also use a flea comb on your cat to remove the fleas. 

3. Inhalant Allergy

Also known as feline atopy, inhalant allergy is defined as a hypersensitivity reaction to environmental antigens that results in pruritic skin disease in cats. According to a study, feline atopic dermatitis affects 12.5% of cats. 

This is primarily a seasonal disease caused by pollen from grass, cedar, or other plants. If you notice your cat tearing up just as the seasons change, it could be due to environmental allergens. 

Inhalant allergy may also be due to dust mites, mildew, and mold infestations at home. 

This can be treated with antihistamines and steroids. But you can also prevent allergens from building up on your cat’s fur by ensuring it has a healthy skin coat and hair with good-quality feline shampoo. 

4. Contact Allergy

As the name implies, the allergic reaction is caused by contact with anything that may cause an allergic reaction. For example, the cat may be allergic to the shampoo you use on its coat or the clothing or costume you put on it. Flea collars, which should be effective in driving out fleas, may bring out tears in your cat’s eyes upon contact. 

Contact allergy is the least common among cat allergies, and it is also the easiest to treat. You just have to remove the item causing your car to tear up or scratch itself. 

Eye Infection

Another reason your cat may have tears in its eyes is an infection. It may have come into contact with another feline suffering from a bacterial or viral eye infection. 

Kittens are more prone to eye infections because they have weaker immune systems. You can use a nutritional supplement for kittens to keep them healthy throughout this vulnerable period. 

Eye trauma can also lead to an eye infection. The trauma can be due to fighting with other cats or because the eye was hit by something hard or sharp. Discharge that comes from injured eyes usually aren’t tears but a greenish or yellowish liquid. 


Feline glaucoma is a condition where fluid builds up in the eyes because of the lack of drainage. The fluid is called aqueous humor, which is the substance that gives structure and nutrients to the eyes. Too much fluid can damage the eyes due to extra pressure exerted. 

Glaucoma can be treated with intravenous medication or eyedrops. Early intervention is crucial to prevent blindness. 


Feline flu or an upper respiratory infection can cause teary eyes in your cat. The common cause is a viral infection (feline calicivirus or feline herpesvirus). 

The virus may also result in fever, lack of appetite, and sneezing. Your veterinarian will likely recommend antiviral medication and antibiotics. 

Corneal Ulcer

The cornea is the transparent part of the eye that protects it from dust and germs while controlling the light that goes through it. A corneal ulcer results from excessive loss of cells in the tissue covering the cornea. This can be caused by various things: injury due to a fight, ingrown eyelashes, infection, and tissue inflammation, among others. 

A corneal ulcer can lead to the production of a large amount of tears. To cure corneal ulcers, the veterinarian first needs to determine the cause.


Cats cry and tear up for many reasons, often due to an allergy or illness. It’s crucial to figure out the cause of your cat’s tears because it could be something serious like glaucoma, which could also be due to an underlying condition like cancer. You must visit your veterinarian right away if you notice your cat tearing up regularly.



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