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Why Does My Cat Cry When I Leave? 4 Common Reasons

Ashley Bates

By Ashley Bates

a cat with its naked owner without clothes

Let’s face it, our cats want to be a part of everything we do. So when we leave the house, it can spark up quite a few reactions in our felines. If you have noticed your cat squawking every time you try to leave the house, you might wonder what’s causing this reaction.

We can sum it up for you in four quick answers. But the reality is, no one quite knows what is going on inside that kitty’s cranium. Regardless, here are our ideas as to why your cat may be squalling every time you leave the house.

The 4 Reasons Your Cat Cries When You Leave

1. Your Cat Will Miss You

Your cat probably doesn’t like having you out of sight. If they’re the only animal in the home or tend to rely on you for all of their companionship needs, time spent without you might be extra lonely. They might understand that you’re getting ready to leave and know that they will have to spend time without you.

Since cats don’t understand time the way we do, they just know you’re here and then you’re not, which can cause confusion or lack of understanding, leading to an increase in vocalization.

sad lonely cat
Photo Credit: medveda, Shutterstock

2. Your Cat Is Trying to Distract You

If your cat knows you’re leaving, they may use meowing to distract you a bit. After all, if they can get your attention, they can keep you around a little longer. Wouldn’t you rather spend your time with them than head off to work?

If this is the case, your cat might be quite dramatic about other things as well. These kitties probably love to be the center of attention and enjoy it most when their humans are home with them.

3. Your Cat Wants to Tag Along

Why would you leave the house without them? Why won’t you let them tag along? It seems to work out better for everyone if you just let them go with you.

If your cat wants to leave the house with you and you’re capable of taking them along, there is a way you can incorporate them on your journey. You can grab a kitty backpack and take a trip out with them!

4. Separation Anxiety

Your cat knows the song and dance. They understand what the jingle of your keys means. They are familiar with your patterns when you’re getting ready, like putting on your shoes. They start to sense your energy shift.

Everything about the way you’re behaving lets them know that something is about to happen, and they are unsure what it is, or they know they can’t come along. This can spark a little separation anxiety in some cats, causing them to meow or follow you around the house.

aggressive gray cat biting the owner’s hand
Photo Credit: Sozina Kseniia, Shutterstock

Separation Anxiety: What Is It?

Some cats have trouble coping with being alone—this is called separation anxiety. It can be mild or severe, and you should easily be able to tell. A cat with mild anxiety might cry when you leave. A cat with severe anxiety might panic, act erratic, or even be destructive when they sense you’re leaving.

Other signs of anxiety in cats include:
  • Excessive grooming
  • Missing fur
  • Refusing to eat
  • Gorging or overeating
  • Going outside of the litter box
  • Vomiting
  • Destructive behavior
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Excessive happiness upon return

It happens. But there are ways you can make life at home more enjoyable for your kitty. The best case scenario is naturally that someone is home at all times, but there are also other methods to try.

If the anxiety is severe enough, it may warrant a vet visit. Your vet can decide the best action and prescribe medication if necessary.

Cat not eating food
Image Credit: Elena Kutepova, Shutterstock

Top 3 Ways You Can Keep Your Cat Busy

You can keep your cat busy in all sorts of ways while you’re gone, or before you leave so that they nap the whole time you’re away. They might miss you and anticipate your return, but they can engage in plenty of activities in between. Plus, there are ways to exercise your cat so they let their energy out appropriately.

1. Teach Your Cat to Walk on a Leash

When you are home, maybe it would be best to take your cat out of the house. That way, they know what’s beyond the door, and they can get their fill of stimulation. They make cat-specific harnesses that safely secure your cat when they are out on walks.

They cannot pull out or slip away. At first, they might resist, but most cats quickly acclimate, even as adults. Getting this time out of the house can really make a difference in their overall behavior and neediness level.

2. Give Them More Enrichment

Your cat might not have enough going on at home while you’re gone. You can offer a variety of toys, puzzles, and activities to keep them busy while you’re away. Always buy supplies in the area that your cat is interested in.

For example, some cats are climbers that love to be on top of everything. Other cats prefer to bat around a toy stuffed with catnip as they flop around on the floor. Once you know what can captivate their attention, you can get them a bundle of different stimulating games and activities.

You can check out lots of step-by-step tutorials and such to make anything from a stuffed sock toy to a full-blown exercise wheel.

persian cat playing with feathered toy
Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

3. Consider Adopting a Friend

Have you thought lately about adopting a cat that might be able to keep your frisky little friend busy while you’re away and alleviate some of the loneliness? Cats are much more enriched when they have a friend nearby to keep them company. So whether your cat prefers other cats or canine companions, having someone else around to break the silence can be a way to keep them from missing you too much while you’re away.

If you plan to bring home a kitten, you certainly can get a purebred if you want to. There are several excellent kitties to choose from. But there is also a plethora of homeless cats in shelters or on the streets that are in need of a new home.

If you are interested, visit a local rescue or shelter. You can interact with all the fabulous cats. When one steals your heart, bring kids, dogs, and cats for a meet and greet to ensure they are the perfect fit for your home.


Now you understand a little bit more about why your cat is crying when you’re about to leave. While we don’t like to leave our pets, there are ways we can leave them in better condition. So, get a few extra toys, get a friend, curb the loneliness—they should perk right back up.

Featured Image Credit: Taya Ovod, Shutterstock

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