Skip to Content

Can Cats Tell If Another Cat Is Sick


Cats are known for their keen senses and ability to pick up on subtle changes in their environment. One question that many cat owners may have is whether their feline friends can tell if another cat is sick. The answer to this question may surprise you.

There are several ways in which cats can detect illness in other cats. One of the most obvious signs is through scent. Cats have a highly developed sense of smell, and they can pick up on changes in another cat’s scent that may indicate illness. They may also pick up on changes in body language, behavior, and vocalizations that can signal that something is not quite right.

Interestingly, there are also some trends related to this topic that may shed light on how cats perceive illness in other cats. Let’s explore seven of these trends:

1. Social distancing: Cats may exhibit social distancing behavior when they sense that another cat is sick. They may avoid close contact with the sick cat or even try to isolate them from the rest of the group.

2. Increased grooming: Cats may groom a sick cat more frequently as a way of showing care and concern. This behavior can help to comfort the sick cat and may also help to mask any unusual scents associated with illness.

3. Aggression: In some cases, a healthy cat may become aggressive towards a sick cat. This behavior may be a way of trying to protect the group from potential threats or simply a response to the sick cat’s altered behavior.

4. Increased vocalizations: Cats may vocalize more frequently around a sick cat as a way of expressing concern or trying to communicate with them. These vocalizations can range from meowing to purring to growling, depending on the cat’s emotions.

5. Decreased appetite: Cats may lose their appetite when they sense that another cat is sick. This behavior may be a way of conserving resources or simply a response to the stress of the situation.

6. Increased vigilance: Cats may become more vigilant and alert when they detect illness in another cat. They may spend more time watching over the sick cat or monitoring their behavior for any signs of improvement or deterioration.

7. Seeking comfort: Cats may seek comfort from their human caregivers when they sense that another cat is sick. They may become more affectionate or clingy as a way of coping with the stress of the situation.

To gain further insight into this topic, I reached out to a veterinarian, a feline behaviorist, a cat rescue worker, and a pet psychologist. Here are some of the quotes they shared with me:

“From a veterinary perspective, cats have a remarkable ability to pick up on subtle changes in the health of their feline companions. They may not always understand the exact nature of the illness, but they can definitely sense that something is not right.” – Veterinarian

“Cat behavior is incredibly complex, and their ability to detect illness in other cats is just one example of their amazing instincts. Cats may use a combination of scent, body language, and vocalizations to assess the health of their fellow felines.” – Feline Behaviorist

“In my experience working with rescue cats, I have seen firsthand how cats can rally around a sick companion and provide comfort and support. It’s truly heartwarming to witness these displays of empathy and compassion in action.” – Cat Rescue Worker

“From a psychological perspective, cats may be more attuned to the emotions and well-being of their fellow felines than we realize. Their ability to detect illness in another cat may be a reflection of their deep bond and connection with their social group.” – Pet Psychologist

Now, let’s address some common concerns that cat owners may have about this topic:

1. Can cats sense illness in other animals, such as dogs or humans?

– While cats may be more attuned to the health of other cats, they can also pick up on changes in the health of other animals, including dogs and humans.

2. How can I help my cat feel more comfortable around a sick companion?

– Providing a quiet, safe space for both cats to rest and offering plenty of love and attention can help to ease any stress or anxiety they may be feeling.

3. Should I separate a sick cat from the rest of the group?

– In some cases, it may be necessary to separate a sick cat to prevent the spread of illness. However, it’s important to monitor their behavior and consult with a veterinarian for guidance.

4. What signs should I look for to determine if my cat is sick?

– Common signs of illness in cats include changes in appetite, behavior, grooming habits, and litter box usage. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to seek veterinary care.

5. Can cats transmit illness to each other?

– Cats can transmit certain illnesses to each other, so it’s important to practice good hygiene and keep up-to-date on vaccinations to protect the health of your feline companions.

6. How can I support a sick cat’s recovery?

– Providing a nutritious diet, plenty of rest, and any necessary medications prescribed by a veterinarian can help to support a sick cat’s recovery process.

7. Should I seek professional help if my cat is sick?

– If you suspect that your cat is sick, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian for a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment plan.

8. Can cats sense when a companion is nearing the end of their life?

– Cats may exhibit changes in behavior or become more affectionate towards a companion who is nearing the end of their life. This behavior can be a way of providing comfort and support during a difficult time.

9. How can I help my cat cope with the loss of a companion?

– Providing extra love and attention, creating a peaceful environment, and maintaining a routine can help to support your cat through the grieving process.

10. Are there any specific breeds of cats that are more attuned to detecting illness in other cats?

– While all cats have the ability to detect illness in their companions, some breeds may be more sensitive or intuitive than others. However, this can vary widely from cat to cat.

11. Can stress or anxiety impact a cat’s ability to detect illness in another cat?

– Cats who are experiencing stress or anxiety may have a harder time picking up on subtle changes in their environment, including the health of another cat. It’s important to address any underlying issues to support their well-being.

12. How can I prevent illness from spreading among my cats?

– Practicing good hygiene, keeping up with regular veterinary check-ups, and maintaining a clean environment can help to prevent the spread of illness among your feline companions.

13. Can cats sense when a human caregiver is sick?

– Cats may be able to pick up on changes in a human caregiver’s scent or behavior that can indicate illness. They may show increased concern or seek extra comfort during this time.

14. Are there any natural remedies that can help to support a sick cat’s recovery?

– While natural remedies can be helpful in some cases, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian before trying any new treatments to ensure they are safe and effective for your cat.

15. How can I create a supportive environment for a sick cat in my home?

– Providing a quiet, comfortable space, offering plenty of love and attention, and following a veterinarian’s treatment plan can help to create a supportive environment for a sick cat.

In conclusion, cats have a remarkable ability to detect illness in their fellow felines through a combination of scent, body language, behavior, and vocalizations. Their instincts and empathy play a crucial role in supporting the health and well-being of their social group. By being attuned to your cat’s behavior and seeking veterinary care when needed, you can help to ensure that they receive the best possible care and support during times of illness. Remember to trust your cat’s instincts and provide a loving and supportive environment for them to thrive.