Can Cats Tell When You Are Sick?

Can Cats Tell When You Are Sick?

Is your normally aloof cat suddenly cuddling with you every second of the day? If you are sick or not feeling well, it could be that your cat senses this and wants to be near you for one reason or another. Cats have a unique ability to know when something isn’t right, but how?

Cats can tell when you are sick using their sense of smell to detect illness. They have saved people’s lives simply by acting differently around them or keeping them up to care for themselves. Cats can sense high blood pressure, cancer, heart attacks, and diabetes symptoms.

When a cat is more attentive, it could mean that they sense something is wrong. Let’s keep going to discover more about this unique ability.

Stories of Cats Who Saved Lives

Can Cats Tell When You Are Sick?Cats can save people’s lives through their sense of smell or when their routine is disrupted. There are stories of cats that knew something was wrong with one of their human companions and woke them up or sat by their side to keep them alive. The following stories show this theme played out in several ways.

Mel-O in Morinville, Alberta, Canada

Alex, a nine-year-old boy with Type 1 diabetes, was about to go into a diabetic seizure when his cat, Mel-O, climbed up his loft bed and began pawing at his face. However, the cat never before climbed up his bed, but on this day, she did because she sensed something wrong. Alex got up, and his mother tested his blood sugar. It was dangerously low, and they could correct it in time before going into a seizure.

Gepetto in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada

A cat’s sense of smell is 200 times more sensitive than a human’s, so it makes sense that a cat would be able to detect things that their humans wouldn’t detect. Gepetto did just that when he woke up his human at 6:30 AM with a “terrible sequence of yowls,” according to his human, Phyllis.

She had gone to bed the night before with a terrible headache and a severe case of nauseousness. When she woke up to her cat’s yowls, she felt even worse and called her husband, who was already at work. He told her to go outside and call the gas company and emergency crews.

It turned out that there was a carbon monoxide leak, and she could have died if it were not for her feline companion.

Monty in Camrose, Alberta, Canada

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Monty never bites his human, but he bit his human companion’s fingers on her left hand on this particular day (she had diabetes). While she tried getting him to stop, he kept at it, so she got up but immediately felt dizzy. She tested her blood sugar, and it was so low that she was about to go into a diabetic seizure.

After taking some sugar tablets, she started feeling better, but Monty never left her side. After the second testing was normal, he let her go back to bed.

Nemo in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Cats can also tell when someone is near death. Nemo lived with a couple in Ontario, Canada, and had a great life. However, when Peter’s heart stopped beating, Nemo made such a stir that Peter’s wife, Angela, woke up. She saw that something was wrong and called 911. Peter was revived in time, thanks to their furry friend, Nemo.

Do Cats Use Their Sense of Smell to Detect Illness?

Compared to humans, cats have 200 times the smelling capabilities and can detect illnesses in other cats and humans. They can also detect hormonal changes with their sense of smell, so if something is off or you have a new illness that throws your hormones out of balance, your cat will notice it.

When people are close to death, cats will react differently because there is a different chemical smell that people give off when they are dying. Cats will either avoid the person or sit next to the person to comfort the person. They might even try to help their human feel better in their way by pawing their face or by biting them.

What Illnesses Can Cats Sense?

Cats can sense illnesses, but can they sense all illnesses or a select few? What illnesses can cats sense? Most illnesses give off certain chemical smells that cats can detect. While they might not differentiate between different illnesses or conditions, they can detect the following conditions.

They also know when something is wrong when their humans worsen or have certain issues because the routine is different.

High Blood Pressure

When blood pressure is managed well, you have a certain routine that your cats get used to and come to expect from you. However, if your blood pressure spikes or your heart is racing, your cat might come to sit with you more than usual or run from you because they are scared of your racing heart.

Hypertension can also cause people to become disoriented at times, so cats will act differently, alerting others in their household that something is wrong.


Cancer has a smell that cats can detect and sniff a spot where cancer is later discovered. This works because cancer increases the number of polyamines in the body, and it gives off a strange smell. Your cat knows what smells you have, and if it starts smelling you strangely, pay attention, and make a doctor’s appointment.


Whether you have seizures regularly due to Epilepsy, or you’ve never had one, but you’re about to, your cat will pick up on it.

Before a seizure starts, there are several changes that a body goes through that alerts a cat that something is wrong. Cats pick up on the energy and will sit with the person during and after the seizure to make sure everything will be fine on the other side of it.


Since cats have over 200 times more scent receptors than humans, they can smell diseases and other illnesses like diabetes and cancer. Diabetes has a similar smell to cancer, and when something changes, such as low blood sugar, a cat will wake up the person so they can take care of the issues.

How Do Cats Act Around Sick People?

Your cat’s temperament determines how it will act around you or other sick people. If you have a naturally affectionate cat, it will cuddle with you and support you. On the other hand, if your cat is naturally anxious, the smell or energy from a sick person might send the cat into hiding.

A cat might also act overly aggressive towards you because it senses something different about you. Instead of disciplining your cat for this, try to ascertain what might be wrong with you. Or, if your cat runs away from you, when normally it comes to you when you call it, you might have something going on and should call a doctor to make a wellness checkup.


Cats and dogs have a unique ability to detect when you’re sick or dying and will either sit with you to support you or run from you because they are scared of the changes. Some nursing homes have therapy cats that detect when a resident is close to death or if something else is wrong. Nursing staff pay attention to this and can treat the patient if possible.

Having a cat in your home who knows the normal smells and routine can be beneficial if someone gets sick because they will detect it earlier than any human could.