Do Cats Know When You Are Sick?

There is a strong bond of friendship between a human and a cat. A feline is a fur friend who will be there for you even before you ask for their comfort. Cats may not fully understand what empathy is, but they can feel it. They can feel your emotions and even let you know that they care. 

Humans and cats both experience being sick. Being sick is a part of our life we can never really tell when it will come. However, we experience its signs and symptoms. A feline is not a doctor, but we can say that it has a sixth sense when it comes to the changes happening in its owner’s body. 

Continue reading this article to see several factors that will answer the question, do cats know when you are sick? Most of the cat owners have provided their feedback regarding this topic. Let us check the details of their claims and see if this might be true. 

Do Cats Know When You Are Sick?

There is no assurance to it, but most cat owners will give a YES as an answer. Even if cats are usually known to love being alone and distant, their affection towards their owner is not a question. And in most cases, you can feel it at times when you are sick. Their familiarity with their cat owner’s body allows them to know if something is different. A change to your body affects them and their behavior. This will be explained more in the coming sections.  

How do cats sense when you are sick? 

No magic is involved when cats know that you are sick. Their high sensing ability compared to humans leads them to be aware that there is a change happening in their bodies. They can recognize the difference, which we cannot even tell or pay attention to. 

cats laying with human

You might find their sweet side when you are sick. You might feel comfortable as they will love to get cuddles or be petted. But it is a mutual exchange of benefits. We might feel weak when we are sick but from a cat’s perspective, this is perfect. Since we become warmer, motionless, and more well-behaved when we are sick. Our body becomes a cozy spot for them to rest.

Below are the factors that tell a cat when its human friend is not feeling well.

Cats can smell if you are sick

It is said that a cat’s sense of smell is fourteen times stronger compared to us. They can smell even those odors we don’t even know exist. Using their sense of smell helps them in hunting. Just by scent, they can identify a person, object, or other animals. 

Your scent is like an imprint on them. A cat can recognize you through your smell rather than vision. Their curiosity is activated when they sense a different smell. They can even tell you your heartbeat in some instances. Humans, might not be able to realize it. But, they get familiar with your smell so when our body hormones change, they can tell. An obvious change in our smell is due to the ointments we use when we are sick. 

So, you don’t need to sulk if your cat gets away from you after a sniff. Maybe, your fur friend does not like the smell of the medicinal ointment you applied. Or he just finds the smell unusual. He will surely get back to you for cuddles after your recovery. 

Cats see physical changes

Your physical symptoms signal a change in your fur friend. They can see if you are losing or gaining weight, even the way you cough, sneeze or vomit. Spending a lot of time with them is a big factor that they even know about a change in your body temperature. 

When you have a fever, your warmth attracts them to be a fur ball looking for a cuddle. The unusual temperature causes them to be clingy and rub their bodies on you. One cannot consider this as a selfish act as you can also feel the comfort of their care. 

Cats notice behavioral change

We can say that cats are an animal of habit and routine. They know the time when to sleep or when you will feed them. If this simple routine is ruined, they can catch up that something is happening. When you feel sick, you usually end up staying in bed and not going to work. 

Cats may behave the way you do. It may seem that they are communicating that they know you’re sick. Instead of playing, you might find them laying beside you. Knowing that you have someone when you are weak will surely help you to feel better. 

How do cats react when humans are sick?

During times that a person is sick, cats behave accordingly. There are even times that they mirror the owner’s actions. It is natural for them to have sensitive feelings or emotions. 

You can see your fur friends’ sweet affection when you are sick. They tend to be more clingy and lay beside you. Enjoy the warmth you are providing to them. 

What human illnesses can cats detect? 

Do cats know when you are sick? Of course, they can tell if you are sick because of the changes they feel or see. Below are some of the illnesses cats can detect. 

Headaches and Migraines 

A change in your body temperature, chemicals, and hormones helps cats realize that you are sick. Your cat may give you a head massage while you are suffering from a headache or migraine. Cats also tend to respect the silence you want when experiencing this illness. 

Cold and Fever 

Colds and fever are not transmittable for cats. But it is better to take a step away from your feline during this time. The noise from your cough or frequent sneezes might annoy them. It is alarming for them and might even cause a disturbance that gets on their nerves.

High Blood Pressure

Hypertension or high blood pressure causes an elevated heart rate. Cats are found to have a fascination with heartbeats. They will love to listen and be held close to it. If you observe this behavior in your cat, this could be a sign for you to check your blood pressure. 


You may get angry when your cat seems to tear off the clothes you are wearing. However, there is a reason behind it. Having diabetes means that there is excessive glucose inside your body. This creates an ill-sweet smell. Your cat friend is trying to remove that odor they can smell from you. They find that odor to be irritating and not pleasant. 


Through cats’ sense of smell, the research found that cancer has a scent. Cancer cells form tumors. These tumors have a distinct smell to an infected body. Chemotherapy kills cancer cells which have a strong smell to cats. 

Do you know that your cat has a unique way of assessing your condition? If your cat is observing you while your mouth is open, it might be trying to analyze an unfamiliar scent from it. Sniffing is also a cat’s way of alarming its owner if they can feel an irregularity in a body part. These are just some things to consider but a visit to a doctor is still the best thing to do to check your health. 

Depression/Mental Illness 

A person having a mental illness may not be aware that they are changing. Their behavior changes and a person suffering from anxiety or depression likes to be in solitude. They no longer enjoy the things they do. Increased irritability is also standard behavior. The time you spend with your cat creates an understanding of your emotions. They can feel if you are in a good or bad mood.

Do Cats Know When You Are Sick

Changes happening in the chemicals of our brain cause mental illness. The brain is what controls our body. It is responsible for our hormone production. Hormonal imbalances can change our state of mind which cats can smell.  

Your feline can be a friend you can lean on during difficult times. Depending on a cat’s personality. If they feel that you are having a negative feeling, they will let you know that you are not alone. They’ll start to purr or rub their body to you. 

Heart Attack

The test of friendship can be put in line with determining a heart attack. There is already proof that cats can save lives during this time. Cats do not know what a heart attack means but they can bring an alarm if their owner is in danger of a heart attack. 

Cats recognize a change in their owner’s facial expressions. A person’s shortness of breath alarms them as well. An unusual increase in body temperature is also noticeable for a cat. 


There is some belief that cats can bring danger to a pregnant woman. Being pregnant is not an illness but they also detect that a woman is pregnant even before they know it. 

Felines can smell the hormone and chemical changes in the body. There might be adjustments to happen as a cat’s environment is about to change. Even the physical appearance of their owner will impact them. 

In the long run, a cat may be attracted to its owner because of the baby’s heartbeat. They will be able to determine that another life is being formed. Another bundle of joy to expect in the household. 

How do cats help when a human is sick?

Your fur friend is not just a simple companion. They can help you feel a bit of ease when you are sick. The bond you have with them and their natural behavior of being sensitive to emotions is a good match. 

Their purr creates a vibration that helps a human’s body. The muscle of the entire body feels relaxed. It helps to heal a broken bone quickly and ease joint concerns because it stimulates the production response in the body for it. It also lowers stress levels, creating a calming effect. A relaxed body state will help the body to improve. 

Some interesting facts to know 

Do cats know when they are sick?

Compared to other animals, cats are experts in hiding their pain or discomfort. Many veterinarians say that they only show weakness when they are already terribly sick. Opposite to their sensitivity when it comes to human emotions. If you feel that something might be wrong with your feline, it is best to pay a visit to a veterinarian. You can also check how often a cat should be taken to the vet

Do cats cheer you up? 

Spending time with a feline can cheer you up. Cat interactions with people contribute to a person feeling happy. They have a playful nature at times which helps to lessen stress.

Do cats sense death? 

Would you believe that a cat might be aware of the spiritual world? There is a famous cat named Oscar from Rhode Island. Oscar is a resident of a nursing home. It was said that he seems to know who is near an end. They said that at least 50 patients from the intensive care unit with which he snuggled had died. 

It might not be a surprise since a person in a dying state has a lot of body changes. Cats also have a high sensory smell, so they recognize anything unusual happening inside the body. 


In conclusion, do cats know when you are sick? There is a high chance of a YES! There are already studies that prove how they help in boosting a person’s mood. Spending time relaxes the body which in return also relieves stress. Their sensitive senses sometimes lead them to mirror what they feel. 

We might not be at our best when we are sick, but our feline friends make us feel better. The strong bond binds a cat and its owner as one. A cat is a friend who recognizes your feelings and emotions. They may not be aware of what empathy means. But they can surely give you enough affection and cuddle when you feel down.

At The Lovable Cat, we believe that every cat deserves to be loved and cared about.

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