Do Cats Cry When They Are Lonely?


Many cat owners have experienced coming home to a loudly meowing and crying cat. The obvious assumption is that the cat misses the owner and is expressing loneliness or separation anxiety through their vocalizations and crying. But do cats actually experience loneliness in the same way humans do? And is crying a sign of this in cats?

In general, research shows that cats are social animals that bond closely with their human families. So it’s not surprising that some cats show signs of anxiety or stress when left alone, such as excessive meowing, crying, inappropriate urination, and other destructive behaviors (How to Manage Cat Separation Anxiety). Cats may see their owners as a source of security and companionship. When that source is suddenly gone, some cats understandably become upset.

Do Cats Experience Loneliness?

Contrary to popular belief, cats are social animals that can form strong bonds with their human companions. According to experts, cats have evolved to develop social relationships and need interaction with others to thrive, just like humans do (

When a close bond has been formed between a cat and its owner, separation can cause distress for the cat. Cats are creatures of habit and feel most secure when their daily routine is consistent. Changes such as an owner being away for extended periods can disrupt a cat’s sense of normalcy. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and loneliness in some cats.

Overall, evidence suggests that cats are capable of experiencing loneliness when isolated from their human families. While they are still independent animals, they have evolved social needs and care deeply about their relationships. Separations from loved ones can take an emotional toll on cats, even though they may not express it openly.

Why Cats May Cry

Cats cry or meow for a variety of reasons. Crying is a form of communication that allows cats to express different needs or desires to their owners. According to WebMD, cat meowing and crying can communicate things like hunger, pain, fear, distress, illness, loneliness, or the need for attention from their human companions.

For example, kittens separated from their mothers will meow loudly to signal that they are hungry or cold. Adult cats may cry or meow excessively when they want to be fed or are asking for attention. Cats can also meow loudly when hurt or scared, such as during a visit to the vet. The crying signals to their owners that something is wrong and that the cat needs care or comfort.

In general, cat meowing and crying is a normal means of feline communication. Paying attention to when and why your cat cries can help owners understand their pet’s needs better.

Signs of Feline Loneliness

There are several common signs that may indicate your cat is experiencing loneliness and isolation. These include:

Increased vocalization – Cats who feel lonely may meow, cry, or howl more than usual as they seek attention and comfort. Excessive meowing or crying for no clear reason could signify your cat wants companionship. According to Hill’s Pet Nutrition, excessive vocalization is one of the top signs of a lonely cat.

Destructive behaviors – Bored, lonely cats may act out by displaying destructive behaviors like scratching furniture, knocking things over, or eliminating outside the litter box. As reported by DeziRoo, acting out through destructive actions can be a cry for attention and a sign your cat needs more stimulation and companionship.

Changes in appetite – A lonely, depressed cat may lose interest in food and eat less than normal. Or conversely, some cats may overeat as a way of coping with stress and loneliness. A noticeable change in your cat’s eating habits could indicate an underlying problem like isolation. The Acana pet food blog notes that appetite changes are a potential symptom of a lonely cat.

Causes of Feline Loneliness

There are several common causes of loneliness in cats including:

Death of a Companion Cat: Cats form close bonds with other cats they live with. When a companion cat passes away, the remaining cat can feel depressed and lonely, especially if they had lived together for many years[1]. The absence of their friend leaves a big void.

Rehoming: If a cat’s owner rehomes another cat they lived with, the remaining cat is likely to feel abandoned and lonely without their former housemate. This sudden change in their social group is very distressing for cats.

Moving Homes: Moving to a new home disrupts a cat’s territory and environment. This change, combined with the smells and sounds of an unfamiliar house, can cause a cat to feel isolated and lonely[1].

Owner Absence: When owners are away from home for long periods, such as vacations or business trips, cats can feel their absence deeply. Cats form attachments to their owners and need social interaction. Without this, they may vocalize more and show signs of loneliness[2].

Managing Loneliness in Cats

There are several ways to help manage loneliness in cats when left home alone:

Providing companionship – Getting a second cat can provide companionship and social interaction for a lonely cat. Introduce cats slowly and properly to ensure they get along. Another option is visiting pet shelters to find a suitable companion cat

Environmental enrichment – Leave out puzzle feeders, cat trees, toys, and other enrichment items when away to keep your cat engaged and less lonely. Rotate toys to keep things interesting. Window perches can also provide mental stimulation

Extra playtime, exercise – Make sure to spend quality interactive playtime with your cat before and after being away. Catnip and wand toys are great for exercise. Provide scratching posts and climbing areas. Meeting their physical and mental needs can reduce loneliness.

When to Seek Help

Although some crying and meowing from cats is normal, excessive vocalization may be a sign your cat needs veterinary care. According to The Spruce Pets, if your cat’s crying persists for more than a day or two, or seems more frequent or intense than usual, it’s a good idea to have them examined by a vet.

The Veterinary Emergency Group also advises seeking prompt veterinary care if your cat’s crying is accompanied by other concerning symptoms. These may include lethargy, hiding, not eating (Veterinary Emergency Group), aggression, or other behavioral changes. Cats who cry while also vomiting, having diarrhea, or showing signs of injury or illness require urgent veterinary attention.

As cats age, excessive crying can also be a sign of cognitive decline or medical problems like hyperthyroidism. Senior cats who begin crying more should be evaluated by a veterinarian to identify any underlying issues.

In short, while some feline vocalizations are normal, crying that is excessive or combined with other symptoms warrants a trip to the vet. It’s better to seek help early on than to wait and allow a minor issue to become serious.

Preventing Loneliness

There are several ways cat owners can help prevent their cats from becoming lonely:

Meet your cat’s social needs. Cats are social creatures that often enjoy having feline company. Consider getting a second cat so they can play and interact together. Introduce new cats slowly and properly to avoid conflict. Even for cats that prefer being alone, regular positive interaction with their human family helps prevent loneliness.

Provide stability and routine. Cats feel secure with predictable schedules and environments. Try to feed them, play with them, and clean their litter at consistent times each day. When you’re away, have someone check on them so their routine is maintained.

Prepare for absences. When you’re gone for an extended time, have a trusted friend or pet sitter care for your cat in their own home. Hire someone to visit and play with your cat, or consider a pet boarding facility. Leaving out puzzle toys with treats can also keep your cat engaged.

By fulfilling their social needs, maintaining stability, and making preparations during absences, cat owners can do their best to prevent feelings of loneliness in their feline companions.

The Bottom Line

Cats can experience loneliness like humans. While they are independent animals, cats are social and can suffer when isolated or separated from their human families. Crying or excessive meowing are common signs of feline loneliness, as cats vocalize to attract companionship.

However, crying and meowing can also indicate other issues like hunger, pain, cognitive decline, or anxiety. It’s important to rule out medical causes first with a vet visit. If the cat is healthy, focus on providing more quality time, socialization, enrichment toys, and access to watch outdoor wildlife.

Overall, try to empathize with your cat’s needs. Solving their loneliness will require determining the underlying cause and adjusting their daily care to provide comfort. With some adjustments to their routine and environment, most cats can live an enriched life even when alone for periods of time.


Lorin, Lindsey. “7 Signs Your Cat Is Lonely – And What to Do About It.” PetHelpful, 2021,

McCune, Sandra. “Do Cats Get Lonely? The Truth About Feline Loneliness.”, 2021,

Merisier, Michele. “How to Tell if Your Cat Is Lonely.” The Spruce Pets, 2022,

Mikkelson, R. “Do cats cry tears when they are sad?” ScienceABC, 2019,

Pawlowski, A. “Do cats get lonely? How to help a cat with separation anxiety.” Today, 2022,

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