Do Cats Know When You Are Sick? Surprising Facts to Know!

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ

do cats know when you are sick

Cats are the perfect representation of setting boundaries. They are unique and will love you better if you respect their personal space.

But something unexpected is happening. Now that you’re sick, your cats are extra-clingy and following you everywhere. Do cats know when you are sick?

Actually, cats sense when you’re sick—the chemical change in your body and the sudden change of mood and routine once you’re ill. They certainly have an impeccable sense of smell!

What Do Cats Do When You’re Sick?

Upon scrolling through Reddit, many people ask, “can cats tell when you’re sick?” The answer is yes, and the following is how they act when you feel unwell.

1. Cats get clingy when you’re sick.


How your cat acts when you’re sick depends on their personalities. Mostly, cats become more clingy if they are naturally affectionate or you have established an affectionate relationship with them.

2. Cats feel anxious


Cats are also getting anxious over their sick owners since they depend their lives on them when it comes to food, shelter, and care.

Moreover, your sudden changes in behavior significantly affect them. Waking up at 1 AM despite the 11 PM bedtime routine could also affect theirs.

Contrary to some beliefs, cats are social animals that thrive best in their owners’ care. Like kids, they love to establish a bedtime routine with you. Once it gets disrupted, it might cause stress and anxiety.

3. Cats lay and sleep on you


If you are sick, you tend to have a higher temperature. Sometimes, cats seek warmth, especially from their owners. So, if you are feeling unwell and your cat is lying or sleeping on you, you should check your body temperature.

Cats’ favorite spots are your chest, armpits, and head, which are the warmest part of your body. If you’re sick, these parts are extra-warm, which makes your cat jump and sleep on you.

4. Cats lick you


Licking is one of the most affectionate cat behaviors. It is also their way of teaching you how to groom since it is the typical behavior done by their mothers when they were young.

Cats also lick their family members to calm them down, especially during stressful situations. So, if you are stressed or feeling unwell due to a health problem, they sense it and alleviate your worries by licking you.

Why Does the Cat Know You’re Sick?


Knowing someone knows how you feel is comforting enough, and having a furbaby by your side makes everything better. However, it might still leave you wondering, “Why does the cat know you’re sick?”

Let us find out the answers through scientific explanations:

1. Cats have a great sense of smell

Like dogs, cats can detect unusual smells from their environment, including your body’s chemical change when you’re sick.

To give you a better idea, humans have 5 million smell sensors. On the other hand, cats have 200 million. That shows the big difference and the reality that cats can sense that something’s not right.

2. Cats are observant, more than you know

Some people label cats as aloof and not caring about their owners. But let me tell you, I’ve had my cat for a few years with me, and I see how they react to every change inside your household.

Cats sense illness in humans based on your body changes. If you lose weight, feel unwell, or have a rapid heartbeat, your cats smell them. They know how you breathe, and even a sudden change can make them worry about you.

You can also see a cat’s reactions when you have a broken bone. Usually, cats can be playful and jump over you. But they will immediately notice when you feel hurt by seeing your facial reaction.

You tend to grimace, frown, and cry if you are in pain. These reactions can send a signal to your cat and move cautiously when with you.

3. Cats notice changes in routine

Instinctively, cats thrive in routine. They bring this instinct into your household that even a little bit of routine change can give them anxiety.

If you are sick, you are coping with a different routine arrangement that makes you feel better. You wake up later than 7 AM, forget to feed your cats and wake up in the middle of the night.

Cats can determine these changes, and they do crazy things to catch your attention and alter it into something you usually do. That’s why you might find a pile of tissue paper lying around the house or a couple of dirt in your room.

Your behavior also affects the cat’s routine. Since you’re lying around instead of working, they might feel it’s acceptable to do the same.

4. Cats love you and know everything about you.

Whether you’re feeling unwell or ecstatic over something exciting, your cats try to cheer you up.

Although they do not recognize faces, they know your body language, voice, and routine behavior. That‘s how cats sense illness in their owners.

Your body language can never lie, no matter how much you hide it. So, if you are feeling sick, cats see it through you—your body temperature, the chemical or hormonal change, and even your facial expressions.

What Diseases Can Cats Detect?


Cats sense sickness, and they know very well the changes in your body just by sniffing at you.

  • Psychological Health Issues – Your mood and behavior alter when you are suffering from depression. These behavior cues signal to your cats that something is wrong.
  • Bone Problems – Cats will know if you are in pain, especially when they see you grimacing or frowning while looking at your joint or some affected bones in your body.
  • High-Sugar Level – The body system of people with diabetes can’t regulate high-sugar levels. Cats can smell sugar, which will be more prominent when you release sweat or urine.

Have you noticed your cat kneading on you and making your clothes their scratching pad? Check your blood sugar level right away!

  • Heart Problem – Before a heart attack, cats can sense several changes that will occur, like shortness of breath and an increase in body temperature.

You can also check yourself for covid since this virus also affects your heart and shows similar symptoms.

  • Cancer – Cats sense cancer through their excellent sense of smell. They smell cancer through the polyamines of cancer patient’s cancerous cells.

Now that you know that cats sense when something is wrong, did you know that they sense death in humans? Yes, they sense the chemical change of a sick person, as well as of a dying person.


So, based on my research, do cats know when you are sick? Definitely yes. They can sense sickness or death.

They might not be the best at showing affection, but they genuinely care about you. Cats see through you; even a little change can signal something wrong.

They can act differently towards you—being extra clingy, meowing, and following you around.

Isn’t it nice to have someone around that would give you signals about your health? So, the next time you see your cat cling around you, maybe it’s not about them but you.

Read more: Do my cats know when I am sick?

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