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Can Cats Tell When We Are Sick?

 by danielle on 08 Sep 2014 |
7 Comment(s)
Cats and their owners often have remarkable bonds. It may sound farfetched to outsiders, but owners often insist their beloved cats ‘know’ when they are ill and behave differently around them as a result.
It turns out, it may not be a fantasy after all. Oscar, a cat that resides at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre in Rhode Island in the United States, gained fame by apparently predicting the deaths of twenty-five residents of the home. Oscar, a generally aloof cat, has been known to all of a sudden curl up affectionately against certain elderly men and women, who pass away shortly afterwards.
According the a number of animal behaviour experts, Oscar is probably reacting to chemicals given off by the bodies of the ill and dying, rather than manifesting psychic powers. It is theorised, biochemical signals are released as the body shuts down, perceptible to cats and dogs before we are able to discern a change.
Numerous stories exist of dogs and cats alerting their owners to previously unknown cancerous growths by obsessive sniffing or otherwise unusual expressions around a part of their owner’s body. Cats have senses far beyond human capabilities – their sense of smell is fourteen times stronger than ours – enabling them to potentially detect illness through their enhanced sensory abilities.
Even when impacted by less serious ailments, it is likely cats are able to some extent discern a difference in the state of health of their owners. Independent of potential chemical signals, pets are keen observers of human behaviour. The way the ill person acts and the manner others in the family behave towards them may provide clues as to their weakened state. 

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Linda Turman - Comment
Linda Turman11 Sep 2017Reply
I have a 16 year old torte, she always knows when me or my
husband are sick. She is the smartest cat I have ever seen.
Her last vet visited the vet said her creation level was up.
So he put her on special cat food for her kidneys. I am really scared, but she is acting the same and eating and drinking. She is an indoor cat. Any suggestion or something I should watch for. Thank you Linda Turman
Nina - Comment
Nina11 Sep 2017Reply
Milk thistle for cats and dogs really helps I buy mine from amazon also CBD oil is good
Dana - Comment
Dana11 Sep 2017Reply
I agree! My 18 yr old black cat knew that I had heat exhaustion for a week because she laid next to me (which she never does) until I felt better and as soon as I did, she stopped. It’s quite remarkable that they are aware of when we are not feeling well!
Kathy  - Comment
Kathy 16 Sep 2017Reply
I have leukemia and my normally independent Ragdoll, Moses, stays by my side, almost all day! It is so comforting to have him by my side :-)
David - Comment
David02 Mar 2018Reply
My cat know i was sick
Aria - Comment
Aria08 Apr 2018Reply
Very nice article. Recently I was very sick and was unfortunately puking, and at the time I had problems because my cat wouldn’t leave me alone. He’d meow and perch onto my back and tap me with his paws. I didn’t know what it was at the time but looking back it seemed a little bit as if It was possible he was worried. I mean, I was sitting there in obvious destress and my mom was right behind me helping me, so it was probably easy for him to figure out something was wrong. Ahh cats are truly the cutest.
Cindy - Comment
Cindy29 Jun 2018Reply
I have 2 cats and for the last year they seem to pick out where my pain is & lay there. Lately they take turns laying back to back with me even thou it's warm weather & they're hot. My doctor thinks i'm nuts. He gave me a chest x ray last yr & nothing showed. Saw him the other day & didn't say anything but I'm worried now. My 7 yr old knows when I have to pee & won't stop meowing til I stop & go. She walks me to the bathroom.
Garnet - Comment
Garnet20 Dec 2018Reply
I had the Flu for 6 weeks.Spent most of the time in bed. My cat, Gus would hug up to me for most of the time. It certainly seems he knew something was not right.
Christine  - Comment
Christine 17 May 2020Reply
My pets rats know when I’m not well

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