Can Cats Tell When You Re Sick?

Have you ever experienced your cat’s unexpected behavior when you’re feeling down with a cold or flu? Perhaps they become more affectionate, snuggling up to you and purring louder than usual. Or maybe they seem to be extra attentive, following you around the house and watching you closely. It’s no secret that cats have a reputation for being mysterious creatures, but can they really sense when something is wrong with their humans?

Throughout history, there have been countless myths and legends about cats having supernatural powers of healing. But what does science have to say about this theory? As it turns out, there are some compelling pieces of evidence that suggest cats may be able to detect certain illnesses in humans.

One reason for this is that cats have an incredibly sensitive sense of smell. They can pick up on subtle changes in our scent that may indicate a health problem, such as an infection or fever. Additionally, cats are known for their ability to read our body language and mood, which could also be linked to certain illnesses.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the question of whether cats can tell when you’re sick. We’ll explore the scientific evidence behind this phenomenon and discuss some potential explanations for why cats seem to possess this ability. So if you’re curious about whether your feline friend has a sixth sense when it comes to detecting illness, keep reading.

How Cats Sense Illness

One way cats can detect illness is through their sense of smell. Cats have an exceptional sense of smell that allows them to pick up on even the slightest changes in their environment. When we’re sick, our bodies release different scents and pheromones that cats can pick up on. They may also notice changes in our breath and body temperature, which can be an indicator of illness.

But it’s not just their sense of smell that makes cats such perceptive creatures. They are also very observant animals and are in tune with their owner’s behavior and routine. When we’re sick, we tend to exhibit different behavior and actions than we normally would. This change in behavior can be picked up by our cats, who recognize that something is wrong with us.

Cats may also show protective behavior towards their sick owners. They may stay close by or try to draw attention to the fact that something is wrong. Some cats may even try to alert other members of the household or make more noise than usual to get help.

But perhaps the most heartwarming way in which cats show their concern for their sick owners is through affectionate behavior. They may cuddle up to us more than usual, purr or groom us, or just stay close by to provide comfort and support.

In summary, cats have an amazing ability to sense when their owners are sick through their sense of smell, observation of behavior, and protective instincts. They make wonderful companions during times of illness, providing us with comfort and support when we need it the most.

Cats’ Increased Affection

It’s a heartwarming behavior that speaks to the bond between humans and their feline companions. But why do cats behave this way when their owners are unwell? Let’s dive into the research and explore the reasons behind this fascinating behavior.

Cats have a powerful sense of smell, which they use to navigate their environment and detect changes in their surroundings. When a person is sick, their body chemistry changes, which means they emit different scents or pheromones. Cats can pick up on these subtle cues and respond accordingly. It’s possible that when a cat detects these changes in their owner’s scent, they become more attentive and affectionate.

Moreover, cats are intuitive animals and can sense when something is wrong with their human companion. They are known for offering cuddles or purring as a way to provide comfort and support when their owner is sick. This behavior could be attributed to their innate sense of empathy and their ability to pick up on subtle cues from their owners.

It’s important to note that not all cats will exhibit this behavior when their owner is sick. Each cat has its own personality and may react differently to various situations. However, if your cat does show increased affection when you are sick, it’s a sign that they care about you and want to help you feel better.

Detecting Changes in Body Odor

With their highly developed sense of smell, our feline friends can detect even the slightest changes in our body odor, especially when we are sick.

So how do they do it? It all comes down to their specialized organ – the vomeronasal organ (VNO) – which is responsible for detecting pheromones. These chemical signals are used by animals to communicate with each other, and when we’re sick, we emit different pheromones than when we’re healthy. While these changes may be subtle and undetectable to most humans, they are like a beacon to our furry companions.

Cats are also incredibly sensitive to changes in their environment, and a sick owner can produce a lot of changes in the home. A sick person may spend more time in bed, leading to more bedding and pillows with their scent. Cats have sharp memories and can associate these scents with sickness. They may even try to “clean” the sick person by licking or grooming them more frequently.

But not all cats will react the same way when their owners are sick. Some may become more affectionate and clingy, while others may become more aloof or distant. This can depend on their individual personality and temperament.

While it’s amazing that cats have this ability to detect changes in body odor, it’s important not to rely on them as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you’re feeling unwell, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional rather than relying solely on your cat’s behavior.

Detecting Changes in Behavior

Their highly intuitive and perceptive nature, coupled with an acute sense of smell, enables cats to pick up on subtle cues that indicate something is amiss.

When a cat senses that their owner is unwell, they can exhibit a range of behaviors that are not typical for them. They may become more affectionate and seek out their owner’s company more frequently than usual. This can be seen as their way of expressing concern and offering comfort during a difficult time.

Furthermore, cats may become more vocal when their owner is sick, as if trying to communicate with them. Some may even show protective behaviors, such as sitting on their owner’s lap or nestling against them to provide warmth and comfort.

It is important to acknowledge that not all cats are equally intuitive or perceptive. Some may not pick up on the subtle cues indicating something is wrong. Additionally, every cat has a distinct personality and may not exhibit affection or protectiveness in the same way.

Nevertheless, if you notice your cat acting differently when you’re feeling unwell, it could be a sign that something is wrong with you. It’s crucial to pay attention to these changes and monitor your cat’s behavior closely.

While cats can undoubtedly offer emotional support during tough times, relying solely on their behavior cannot substitute medical advice or treatment. If you’re feeling unwell, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional.

Tips for Cat Owners

Just like with any family member, it’s crucial to pay attention to their health and well-being to ensure they can live their best lives. That’s why I have compiled these tips for cat owners to observe changes in their cat’s behavior and take proactive steps towards their health when they are feeling unwell.

Watch for behavioral changes

Cats are notorious for being independent creatures, but when they’re feeling under the weather, they may become more clingy or aloof. Pay close attention to changes in your cat’s behavior. If you notice that your usually independent cat suddenly becomes more affectionate and follows you around the house, it may be a sign that something is wrong. Similarly, if your cat begins hiding or isolating themselves, it could also be indicative of illness.

Monitor litter box habits

Cats are very particular about their litter boxes, so any changes in their urination or bowel movements could be signs of a urinary tract infection or other illness. Keep an eye on your cat’s litter box habits to catch any potential health problems early on.

Keep vaccinations up to date

Just like with humans, vaccinations are essential for cats to prevent common diseases such as rabies and feline distemper. Make sure your cat’s vaccinations are up to date to help prevent illness and keep them healthy.

Regular vet check-ups

Annual checkups are critical in maintaining your cat’s health. During these visits, the veterinarian can catch any potential health problems early on, making them easier to treat. It’s important to stay on top of your cat’s health by scheduling regular visits to the veterinarian.

Healthy diet and hydration

A healthy diet and staying hydrated can help prevent illness and promote overall well-being for your furry friend. Provide your cat with fresh water daily and feed them high-quality food to maintain their immune system and overall health.

Regular exercise and mental stimulation through playtime and interactive toys can also promote their well-being.


In conclusion, scientific studies suggest that cats have the ability to detect when their human companions are sick. This is due to their exceptional sense of smell, which enables them to detect changes in our body odor and pheromones associated with illness. Additionally, cats are intuitive creatures that can read our behavior and mood, which may be linked to certain illnesses.

When cats sense that their owners are unwell, they often exhibit protective behaviors or become more affectionate and attentive. This is because of their natural empathy and desire to offer comfort and support during difficult times.

As responsible cat owners, it’s crucial to monitor our feline friends’ behavior for any changes and take proactive steps towards their health when they’re feeling unwell. This includes observing litter box habits, keeping vaccinations up-to-date, scheduling regular vet check-ups, providing a healthy diet and hydration, and promoting regular exercise through playtime with interactive toys.

While cats can undoubtedly provide emotional support during challenging times, it’s essential not to rely solely on their behavior as a substitute for medical advice or treatment.