As they have a strict hierarchical structure, cats can sense sickness in each other. This is why they’re so secretive. A feline knows that another cat will move for their territory if they detect weakness.
A cat’s sense of smell means that it’ll pick up on any hormonal changes. Cats can read our facial expressions, too. This means they’ll notice if you are grimacing, or otherwise demonstrating physical pain.
We will explain the symptoms of illness that your pet may notice in you. In fact, they may notice them before you. You can learn a lot about your health, just by interacting with your cat.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Can Cats Sense When You are Sick?
- 2 How Does a Cat React When Their Owner is Sick?
Can Cats Sense When You are Sick?
When you have a head cold, you may find that your cat is uncharacteristically affectionate. Maybe they’ll jump into your bed with you, or stay close. This leaves many pet owners convinced that they have a psychic bond with their cat.
The truth is something altogether less spiritual, we’re sorry to say. All the same, it’s possible that your cat has picked up on your illness. Taking the head cold example above, there could be a very simple explanation. While you’re running a fever, your body temperature will be substantially higher. As cats love warmth, they may just be snuggling up to steal your body heat.
Even if this is the case, however, don’t be deterred. Your cat will likely be concerned about your welfare. For a start, you control the food. Who is going to open tins and hand out treats if you’re spending all day in bed? Who will empty the litter tray? Who will play with them when the time comes? Your cat has worked hard to get you into a routine. They don’t want something as inconvenient as an illness undoing all that effort.
Also, your cat loves you and wants the best for you. As Petful explains, cats mourn the loss of their owners when the worst happens. Your cat doesn’t need you, due to their independent nature. They’d adapt and survive without you. This does not mean that they don’t enjoy your company.
Can Cats Detect Cancer?
Cats have long been believed to be capable of detecting cancer in humans, albeit anecdotally. Science has yet to produce a definitive answer to this question. The internet is filled with pet owners claiming that their cat spotted a tumor, however.
What is undeniable is that a cat has a superb sense of smell. Cat noses are up to 14 times more sensitive than those of humans. Applied Animal Behavior Science claims that felines identify and differentiate more scents than dogs.
It’s this ability to detect smells that leads to the belief that cats can detect cancer. It’s believed that a cat will notice when something a part of the body smells ‘wrong.’ This is frequently the case with cancer, when the body is subjected to hormonal changes. Cats sometimes find themselves drawn to the area of this unique scent, routinely pawing or meowing.
You can’t rely on your cat to be a one-animal cancer detector. Felines behave the way they do for many reasons. However, it’s always worth paying attention to a sudden change in behavior from your pet. Cats developing an interest in unusual parts of your anatomy could have a medical explanation.
Can Cats Sense Migraines?
Migraines can be debilitating for a human. These devastating attacks can cast a shadow over your entire life. The idea of a pet may seem like extra work, but cats can help.
Your cat will typically know when you are experiencing a migraine attack. Again, this will be due to their superior sense of smell. Cats will detect that your entire body chemistry is changing, and react accordingly.
More often than not, a cat will curl up beside you in such an instance. Such company will often work wonders to improve your physical condition. If nothing else, your cat’s rhythmic purring should keep you a little calmer.
Cats will also pick up on physical pain. Migraines are often excruciating, and that can be impossible to mask. While your face is contorting and twisting in discomfort, your cat will notice.
They won’t be able to tell you that a migraine is coming hours before the event. Cat’s aren’t magic, as much as we like to imagine they are. Your pet will, however, understand that you require support while in the throes of a migraine.
If you do struggle with migraines, keep this in mind before adopting a cat. Younger kittens have bags of energy, which can be a fun distraction. It can also be problematic if you need to spend several hours in a dark room. An older cat is a more suitable companion, as they’ll be content to keep you company.
Can Cats Help Humans with Diabetes?
Much like cancer, low blood sugar in humans has a very distinct scent. You may not pick up in it yourself, but your cat certainly will. This could lead to a cat’s behavior becoming an early warning system for diabetic pet owners.
This behavior could take many forms. As with cancer, the evidence of cats discovering low blood sugar is anecdotal. However, it’s safe to assume that a cat will be distressed by a change in their owner’s health. They’ll acknowledge that a familiar and comforting scent has changed. This could lead to cats meowing, or even pawing and clawing, until normality is resumed.
Of course, your behavior will also change during a low blood sugar episode. You will become increasingly lethargic, and potentially less coordinated. This may be what your cat is picking upon. Whatever the explanation, it’s safe to assume that a cat knows that something is amiss. In such a circumstance, felines are likely to alert their owners.
Do Cats Detect an Impending Heart Attack?
A cat may not understand what is happening when a human has a heart attack. They may not even notice any symptoms, beyond grimaces of pain. However, adopting a feline can greatly reduce your risk of experiencing heart failure.
Can Cats Tell When a Human is Pregnant?
We have previously mentioned that cats pick up on hormonal changes in their owners. Well, very few things can impact upon human hormones than pregnancy. As the body is flooded with estrogen, progesterone and chorionic gonadotropin, feline senses go crazy.
How a cat reacts to this change depends on its unique personality. Many cats will start to take on a maternal role themselves. They may be less active, and prefer to cuddle up with their owner.
They may also act aggressively toward other people approaching the expectant mother. This is more common in dogs, though. On the other hand, some cats must be completely indifferent. As long as nothing in their world changes, they’ll carry on regardless.
What’s important is that a cat’s routine is maintained while an owner is pregnant. It’s understandable that things could fall by the wayside during such a time. If your cat is not having their needs met, however, it can cause problems. Don’t be shy about asking for help, and maybe even hire a cat-sitter at pivotal times.
Another thing to consider is that your cat may feel stressed when the baby arrives. Felines are used to being treated as a priority. When a baby demands its owner’s attention, this changes through necessity. Again, ensure that nothing changes too drastically for your cat at such a time. Your pet will likely end up stressed by this new arrival.
In some cases, they may start to sulk about the change in the attention pecking order. They’ll adapt, if they are still having their basic needs met. If your cat begins to behave aggressively or shows destructive tendencies, you may need professional help.
Do Cats Sense Stress and Anxiety in Humans?
Doctors describe stress as a silent killer, and it can also be very harmful to pets. Cats, in particular, are very empathetic toward their human’s mood. They read our facial expressions very well, and pick up on subtle changes to our behavior. When we are stressed or anxious, it’s impossible to keep this from our cats.
An owner acting this way is very worrying for a cat. Felines are guided by pure survival instincts. They don’t understand the pressures of mortgage payments, or the worry of a sick relative. If you’re stressed, they assume that a clear and present danger to their safety is imminent.
It can sometimes be impossible to shield a pet from all of life’s stresses. Consider it part of your duty as a cat owner to attempt to do so, however. Keeping your cat in a strict routine can be a helpful distraction. You should also find that your pet is keen to help you any way that it can.
Will I Pass My Illness Onto My Cat?
Diseases or illnesses that can be passed from animals to humans are called zoonoses. The CDC lists some of the common health concerns that you could catch from your cat. What about the opposite, though? Could you make your pet sick, purely through proximity?
As Smithsonian Magazine explains, it is possible for a cat to catch influenza from a human. This is because the flu is such as an adaptable virus, and so frequently mutates. Many cats will be able to spend time with their poorly owner, and suffer no ill effects. For the unlucky few, however, the consequences can be dangerous.
As with humans, it’s vulnerable and older cats that are most at risk from influenza. As the virus attacks the respiratory system, it can quickly become problematic. A senior cat, for example, will be significantly less resistant to breathing difficulties. A pet with compromised immunity could also find a bout of flu potentially fatal. Even a vaccinated pet can be struck down due to the ever-changing nature of the virus.
If your cat is vulnerable, it’s best to keep your distance while you’re sick. While pets can offer comfort when we’re under the weather, their health is equally important
How Does a Cat React When Their Owner is Sick?
Your cat’s reaction to sickness will likely mirror your own. Cats are natural imitators, after all.
If you don’t acknowledge illness, acting as though nothing is wrong, your cat may seem indifferent. After all, as far as they are concerned, very little has changed. There may be a strange smell coming from their human, but they’re being fed and exercised. They’ve coped with strange smells before.
It’s human nature to feel a little sorry for ourselves when we’re ill, however. Cats will pick up on this and take on those traits. This may mean that your cat becomes significantly more affectionate, and even clingy. They will be seeking reassurance that everything is going to be OK. As a pet owner, you will have a responsibility to offer that.
Alternatively, you may notice that your cat keeps their distance from you while you’re unwell. Your feline has not become an overnight germophobe. They may not recognize you, because your body smell has changed. Felines react to their owner’s voices more than anything else. They’ll soon come to realize that you’re still the same person.
If you’re feeling a little strange, and your cat is treating you differently, it’s worth acknowledging. Cats pick up on all kinds of subtleties. This isn’t because they are psychic, or possess otherworldly powers. They dislike change. If something has the potential to upset the status quo they know and love, cats will notice.
A cat is no substitute for a doctor, though. Don’t ignore any physical symptoms of illness just because your pet seems indifferent. All the same, pay attention if your cat seems disproportionately concerned about your welfare. They may be picking up on something in your body that you have not noticed yet.