Crying cat meme

Know Your Meme

Explaining ‘crying cat’ memes (aka ‘cat crying’ memes)

The perfect meme for when you’re holding it together—but just barely!


Alexandra Samuels


Posted on Dec 11, 2023   Updated on Dec 11, 2023, 10:25 am CST

Since the inception of memes, cats have emerged supreme. Of course, people love their dog memes, too, but part of what makes cats so lovable is their quirky behaviors and many, expressive faces. One example of this is the “crying cat” meme (or “cat crying” meme, if you prefer), which has even spawned its own merchandise. For those wondering how this meme got started and how people use it, we’ve got you covered:

Where did the meme emerge?

The “crying cat” meme was first published online by an anonymous Meme Generator in 2014, according to Know Your Meme. The picture, it said, is a version of “serious cat,” another altered cat photo. Since its inception, the “crying cat” meme has generated more than 925 new images.

How did it then spread?

In 2016, an anonymous 4chan poster published an image of a bigger cat that had the same expression on its face. The photo was accompanied by the following caption: “First it’s smug, then it’s fat. It’s living my life.” This picture is a photoshopped version of another picture of a sleeping cat (who also dons the crying eyes.)

Since then, this meme has been shared a number of times and reached virality. In January 2017, a Facebook user posted the picture and captioned it “sad react only.” According to Know Your Meme, this was re-posted more than 440 times.

In 2018, a reddit user asked members of the /r/OutOfTheLoop subreddit what the origin of the “crying cat” meme was. “What’s the origin of the crying cat pictures, and why am I seeing them all over now?” they asked. This sparked a small discussion about the meme’s origin and ended in more people sharing “crying cat” more broadly.

What’s the origin of the crying cat pictures, and why am I seeing them all over now?
byu/plebdev inOutOfTheLoop

How are people using the meme?

The meme features a cat which has been Photoshopped to have teary, glassy eyes. As such, most people use the meme in situations where they’re trying to hold it together—just barely!—or are holding back tears. 

Here are some of the best examples of the “crying cat” meme we could find. 

So wait… What is “serious cat”? 

According to Everything is Viral, the original photo of “serious cat” first hit the internet in 2005 on a Korean lulz community, Humor University. The image of the “serious cat” was paired side-by-side with a photo of celebrity DJ/rapper Jae Young. Thinking that the two looked similar, the photo spread across the Korean web, with fans initially calling the animal the “Jae-Young cat.” 

Unfortunately, though, we still don’t know how the exact picture of “serious cat” came to the web. According to Know Your Meme, the “serious cat” meme appearance on #YTMND and 4chan. It’s emergence produced a number of new memes and eventually became known as “serious cat.” 

Can I make my own ‘cat crying’ meme?

Of course! Nowadays, it’s fairly easy to both make memes online and go somewhat viral. To make your own “cat crying” meme, however, there are a number of generators online, such as this one.

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*First Published: Dec 11, 2023, 10:24 am CST