How Do Cats Know When People Are Sick

Cats know when people are sick, and some want to nurse their humans back to health.
Some cats love taking care of
their humans when they're sick.
Do cats know when people are sick, Thomasina? I had a terrible migraine last night, and my cat never left my side.
-- Curious

Hi Curious...

Sorry about that migraine! Ouch! Yes, cats know when people are sick. But what we do about it depends on the cat.

At our house, Katie is the nurse. When our human's back hurts, she curls up against her, and the warmth of her body and the vibrations of her purr, make our human feel so much better.

How Cats Know When People Are Sick

Did you know this? We observe our humans constantly because we find you really interesting. So one way cats know when people are sick is by the way they move. If you walk more slowly than usual, your cat assumes you're either very tired or not feeling well. Your change in mood is a clue, too.

Another way cats know when people are sick is that they smell a little bit different. We recognize friends and family members mainly by scent. Your body gives off different chemicals when you're sick, and your cat can tell by your scent that things are not right.

Fortunately, this hasn't happened at our house. But sometimes a sixth sense lets cats know when people are sick, too. My human typist did some research on this and found stories about cats warning their humans of heart attacks, low blood sugar and even tumors. 

How Cats Act When People Are Sick

Some cats, like Katie, love to nurture and comfort their people when they're sick. Others are concerned by their human's different scent and decide it's safest to just stay away. Something else enters into this, too. We hide and want to be left alone when we're sick, and we figure humans feel the same way. 

So do some cats really love to nurture people who are sick? Or are they trying to comfort themselves because they're afraid their lives might be disrupted if that human can't drag herself out of bed? That's our secret, and I'll let you decide for yourself!
Hope that migraine's gone now, Curious, and thanks for writing to me.

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