Do cats cry tears?

Humans cry when they are hurt and when they are in pain. Humans shed tears of joy when they are happy. A sad movie will make humans cry. Grief is one of the most common reasons why tears would flow down the face of humans. Human’s crying is attributed to emotions. Cat owners would assert that cats make vocalizations that are said to be their own version of crying. But when these animals meow or yowl, do they produce tears? Pet parents would say yes! Skeptics and scientists would say no!

Anthropomorphism…this is one of the reasons why cat owners believe that the pet can cry tears. Pets are not only regarded as family members. Most cat owners love the pet so much and consider it as the baby of the family. Therefore, pet owners would have the inclination to interpret the behavior of the pet in accordance with the emotions they feel. Apart from baby talking to the pet, it would not be uncommon for cat owners to believe that a cat that is incessantly yowling is mourning for the departed owner…that a cat that is mopping around and ignoring its food bowl is missing its owner. Cats are therefore credited with emotions that they do not really have. True, some behaviorists believe that cats and other animals have some degree of emotional response but these emotions are very limited as compared to what humans have. It is obvious that cats feel pleasure. A cat that is being petted would snuggle closer to the owner and purr in pleasure. Cats feel fear too. A cat being accosted by a big dog would show signs of fear through its body language.

But do cat feel grief? Does grief make cats cry and shed tears? There has been an ongoing debate between pet owners and animal behaviorists about this topic. Again, scientists would insist that crying and producing tears is another of the cat owners’ tendency to anthropomorphize. Cat owners, on the other hand would assert that the tear stains on the cats’ faces are signs that cats can indeed cry tears. Moreover, cats, like humans have tear ducts thus they are capable of producing tears.

The tearing of cat’s eyes is oftentimes due to medical reasons. Cats cry… cats can produce tears as well but the tears produced are not emotional tears. Humans can produce three types of tears – basal tears, reflex and emotional tears. Basal tears lubricate the eyes and keep the cornea wet and free of dust. Reflex tears are produced when the eyes are irritated by substances and foreign particles. Emotional tears are weeping or crying tears. Production of this type of tears is caused by physical pain, depression or emotional stress. Researchers have affirmed that cats can produce basal and reflex tears but not emotional tears. The staining on the cat’s fur is therefore caused by irritants, foreign matter, infection and allergies. Cats with medical concerns like abnormality in eyelashes or abnormality of tear ducts would excessively tear. Cats with these medical concerns must have medical attention. Cats can cry tears but the tears are not of the emotional kind.

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