Can Cats Feel It When You’re Sick?

Since a week ago on Sunday, I have had bellyache attacks. It could be my gallbladder, I’m not sure. I’m going for an echo this Thursday. But since that Sunday I on and off have so much pain in my abdomen and back that I can hardly speak and breathing hurts.

Suki, this morning.

Suki, this morning.

So today I called in sick as I was brought home yesterday with the same symptoms. I got straight into bed, and Suki has sat in the doorway until I was able to get out again. I woke up this morning with Suki sleeping by my feet, and it was like she was spying on me. When I got out of bed, she followed me, but in a way that I didn’t notice it. It’s like she’s checking to see if I am okay.

I think cats (and dogs and other animals) are great in sensing when their owner is in pain. I remember when my mother got back home from a surgery, the dog wouldn’t leave her side (well, did she ever?). And when I was house-sitting when they were on vacation, It’s pretty dark and creepy in the bedroom there. Their cat Rosie would lay with me for a while. But maybe she slept on the bed with me, because she actually wasn’t allowed to be in the bedrooms?

Perhaps animals are more empathic than we humans? Animals are even known to feel earthquakes coming, so why couldn’t they feel it when we are in pain, or feel a heart-attack or epileptic attack coming? What do you think?


Photo by

Photo by

Oscar is a two-year-old cat who lives in a nursing home in Rhode Island, United States. He appears to know when residents at the home are approaching their last hours because he curls up next to them. It looks like Oscar can predict when patients are going to die.

His ‘coworkers’ doctor David Dosa said that Oscar has been correct in more than 25 cases since 2007.

Oscar was adopted by the medical staff when he was a kitten. And ever since his home has been on the third floor of a nursing home, with the dementia patients. Soon he started to make his own rounds. Sniffing patients and he would curl up beside a patient who then passed away a few hours later.

The staff at the hospital trust Oscar’s instinct so much that they call the relatives from the patient to let them know that their loved one may pass away soon. Some families don’t like Oscar being in the room, so he has to wait outside the room where he will pace and meow.

Do you think cats (and other animals) can sense pain? Have you ever experienced it?

22 Responses to “Can Cats Feel It When You’re Sick?”

  1. Kitties Blue

    I know cats and dogs are very sensitive to pain and emotions. When I was laid up with my broken leg for 5 1/2 months, I always had one cat or another acting as my “nurse,” and this has been true whenever I have had a surgery or been sick. They are very intuitive and empathetic. Hope the results of your upcoming tests show nothing serious! Purrs and hugs, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

    • Cats & Co

      I hope it’s not the gallbladder or anything serious! I’m going to London in two weeks, and I REALLY don’t want to miss that. :(

      But that’s pretty cute! Cats would make perfect nurses. ;)

  2. Animalcouriers

    Have heard oscar’s story before and totally believe it. One of our cats would come and snuggle us when ill, even if throwing up – that’s what i call dedication! Hope you feel better and it’s something less important than gall stones.

  3. heretherebespiders

    Hard to say! Look at me being the voice of scepticism. Ha! In your case, you noticed a change in Suki BEFORE you felt really bad. That is interesting! My boys are trying to be on me whenever I hold still for more than 5 minutes. But when I was a little kid, we had a female Siamese who mostly ignored me, unless I was crying. She always came to comfort me.

    Wait, London?!? You didn’t tell me that! How exciting!

  4. rmudge

    I absolutely believe that cats (and other pets) have an understanding of their owner’s illness and pain. Whenever I am ill, my cats seem to take measures to comfort me. They will come and sniff me, rub against my hands, talk to me and cuddle me more frequently while I’m laying in bed sick. It is like they are checking on me. Some of their instinct surely has to do with a change in my routine,probably different smells that my body gives off, and temperature change of my body if I have a fever. Cats pay attention to every detail. Other parts of the instinct seem to be more mysterious.

  5. Coccolino

    It is so comforting when our pets feel our pain. My cats and dogs definitely have/do but I have to say Cocco the pig is happy to cuddle if I’m sick but I’m not sure he’d actually feel my pain like the others. Then again, I haven’t been sick really since I’ve had him so maybe I’m not giving him enough credit (and knocking on wood!)!

  6. ladysarahinlondon

    I remember reading about the story of Oscar. Yes I think cats have those skills. My cat actually avoids me if I am sick… She will sleep near by, but without touching me. All the best….and take care of yourself.

  7. Tom Duhamel

    Yes I believe! As to what it is that they feel, I don’t know. I can see a few possible hypotheses. When you are sick with fever, some people can tell because you smell ammonia (not everyone can smell it, apparently). Cats might be able to smell that. Maybe we have other odors which are different than usual. It may just be that we act differently. You are out of your routine. I know I spent quite a few sick days all curled up in front of the TV. I would never spend a day in front of a TV. Actually, I don’t have a TV anymore. You know, just doing things that aren’t normal to you. Cats would notice. But I’m sure smell has something to do.

    I’m almost never sick, but my cats take great care of me when I am.

  8. Julie Richards

    I strongly agree on this content. There is one time I have a very high fever and I feel like dying. My cat stays and won’t leave my side.I think pets like cats or dogs can really sense their masters conditions or maybe they just feel awkward because they don’t get normal cuddling from their owners like they usually does.

  9. cat care

    Maybe there’s this link or connection that tells our pets that we’re ill. I strongly agree on this since I also experienced my cat’s care during those unhealthy times.

  10. Mama j

    I’m a new kitty person I was gonna say owner but she owns me :) I suffer from Lupus and also have to wear a CPAP for sleep apnea. I do fall asleep without my mask occasionally but wake up with my sweet little Bubby trying to get her head inside my mouth!! May sound gross to others but it’s very serious to not wear it and it blows me away that she knows. I wake up to her also circling the whole mask carefully I guess to see if it’s sealed ok ???? Not sure but she sure is. Whenever my pain is bad she doesn’t like to leave me. If my husband is playing with her or petting her she can’t go more than 10 minutes without running into our bedroom to check on me he tells me since I’m asleep most of the times. I’m so over the moon in love with my cat that I now get why people are crazy about them.

  11. kandi

    I have the most loving cat ever. I keep my bedroom door closed at night. But mittens wants to come in all the time, she wont let me sleep cause she wants to nurse on me all the time, on my hands. So i have to keep door shut. When i wake up she is constantly meowing at me and walking in front of me. I have to be careful or i will trip over her. I have feet problems and have to wear braces on my hands and one on my foot. She wants to get on my head and rub all over my head. Im wondering if this is a sign of an issue i need to check on. Maybe someone can suggest anything.


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