One of the most heartbreaking things one can witness is to see a cat crying. If you have never seen it, you probably will not believe me. However, I can tell you it is certainly true. I know. I know. There are people (those who are “experts” in the field of cat behavior) who will tell you that cats do not express their emotions in this way. They contend that cats will become lethargic, or show a disinterest in food, or withdraw and that if there are tears, it is for medical reasons rather than from emotional distress. Some medical reasons they cite are eye irritation from a speck of dust, a scratch from another cat, an allergy, or from a contagious disease, such as upper respiratory infection. I know better. I know cats cry when they hurt emotionally.
Sasha is a big furry, gentle, fourteen pound male feral cat, who is now one of our companions. He was in the first (of three) feral litters of HRH Alexandria Regina. I would let him in the house to eat his meals in peace and to allow him to have a little respite from the cruelty of the outside world. He became quite socialized and would be in the house sometimes for hours at a time. He would find his perfect place in the sun on a comfy cushion and fall asleep – soundly…possibly the best sleep of the day for him. He also liked to follow me around. He would head-butt my leg; I would pet him until he indicated he was tired of the routine and wanted to sleep, or eat, or groom.
One day, I had to do some things in the basement. It’s an unfinished basement with exposed beams and rafters. I was not accustomed to closing the door behind me, since we did not have indoor companions at that time…and…I forgot that Sasha was in the house. The next thing I know, I see Sasha on the stair way and he is very frightened. I walked towards him to see if I could ease him back up the stairs, but he panicked and ran past me into the basement. He ran around to several different locations in the basement looking for an exit. He finally went to the top of a shelving unit and tried to make himself invisible; he then went into the rafters behind some insulation.
I tried talking to him and tried to get him to come to me, but nothing worked. I finally got the ladder and put myself level with him so he could see me. I stroked him and spoke to him softly and as I was speaking with him, he started to cry. He cried real tears that fell onto my hand. I stroked them away and kept talking to him. It was the saddest thing to see. He could not express himself in any other way at that time, so perhaps he knew I would understand tears or perhaps it was involuntary. Eventually, my husband came home and together we coaxed him down where he went limp in my arms as I was carrying him up the stairs. It was a day, long remembered ….
Nancy L. H. Laurent