Cats crying are a common reason they are surrendered to cat shelters. But crying almost always has a meaning, if you can figure out why your cat is crying, you can hopefully work towards curbing the behaviour.
There is a difference between talking and crying. Some cats are just more talkative than others. Oriental type breeds such as the Siamese are known for their ability to talk all day long. That's just their nature.
Does your cat cry all the time? Is the cat new to your home? Does it occur at a certain time of the day (ie; on a night/early morning)? Has your cat always cried or is this new behaviour? Answering these questions can help to understand why your cat is crying.
Crying all the time:
This is unusual for a cat. Are you sure the cat isn't just on the more talkative side? Does he/she appear to be happy, healthy? Is the cat bored? Are you giving him plenty of attention and playing with him lots?
My cat has suddenly started crying:
This may or may not be a cause for alarm. Is the cat an entire female? Could she be in heat? Signs of a cat in heat include crying (very loudly), affection, rolling on the ground, when touched she will lower her front end and raise her rear end, assuming a mating position.
If you have ruled out that she is not in heat you need to consider that the cat may be sick and/or in pain. How is his toileting habits? Have you noticed any accidents? Does he appear to be going to the litter tray more often? Licking the genitals? These can point to a urinary tract infection/blockage, which is a medical emergency.
Have you noticed any other symptoms? Eating more, eating less, vomiting, diarrhea? Any sudden crying really should be checked over by a vet as it may be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Crying on a night:
This is a common complaint among cat owners. Just as you go to bed, your cat is waking from a day of snoozing and wants to play. Cats are by nature most active from dusk to dawn when they would normally be out hunting. There are two ways to approach this.
Firstly, try to replicate his hunting behaviour by playing with him for a good 15 minutes just before you go to bed. Really get him working hard so he is panting. At the end of the game let him catch his prey (whatever toy you're using) so that he feels he's stalked, hunted and killed. At the end of the game, give him his dinner.
Secondly, if the behaviour continues, ignore him. Shut him in the laundry if you must. Getting out of bed to feed him, shush him etc., just encourages the behaviour. Try the first method and the second should hopefully be unnecessary.
New cat crying:
This is normal. Moving to a new home is a huge upheaval for anybody, cats included. In my experience, the crying has tapered off within a few days. You can help your cat to settle in by either letting him sleep with you or providing him with a soft toy for comfort. If the cat is young, he may be missing his mum and littermates. Get him a nice soft blanket, and wrap it around a ticking clock. This can be a comforting sound to him. It does get easier, just give it a little time.
Elderly cat crying:
Crying behaviour can escalate in the elderly cat. As cats age, many of their senses deteriorate and they may be struggling with confusion. Once again, it is a good idea to take your cat to a vet to rule out any medical conditions. Have bloodwork done, ears and eyes checked and an overall physical assessment of your cat.
Old cats need routine, especially if their senses are diminishing. Don't go moving furniture around the house, feed him at the same time every day, provide him with a sense of comfort.
Cats feel grief when they lose a human, feline or canine companion. We had two Burmese who were inseparable when one died, his companion would walk around the house crying as if she was looking for him. It took her time but she did eventually recover. They need plenty of TLC at this time.