Can a cat really detect a disease? It can even sense mental problems

Hangai Lilla

2023. September 29 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

According to the current state of science, it is pointless to argue with the fact that cats are able to form deep and strong bonds with their owners. They can easily tune in to our current moods and feelings. So it is not surprising that many people have wondered whether they can sense when we are sick.


We’ll kill the joke right from the start. Thanks to its developed sense of smell, a cat can really detect a disease. They smell the hormonal changes in the human body, so they can sense almost immediately if something is wrong with us. It is also observed that after sensing the disease, the animals became much more affectionate. So, after the diagnosis, they want to make sure that we get enough attention and support. Anyone who has liked to say that cats are calculating, cold and don’t care about us, will take it back immediately!

Superpower activated: how a cat can detect a disease?

According to Applied Animal Behavior Science, cats’ ability to detect chemical changes in their environment plays a role in reducing stress. They feel safe surrounded by familiar scents, so they are intrigued by unfamiliar smells.

If someone is sick, their smell will always change more or less due to hormonal fluctuations. Our pets sense this. In most cases they are able to determine flawlessly when there is some kind of change in the human body. They also use this ability to filter out disease carriers in colonies. They rub against each other to determine, among other things, the other’s health.

Cats also observe behavioral changes. You must have already noticed that your pet watches you so persistently, as if it wants to look into your soul. Actually, you are not far from the truth. They are also able to separate the mental signs of diseases from the normal, average behavior of individuals. As a result, they not only feel when someone is sick, but can also determine if they are in pain.

Can they sniff out mental illness too?

According to research, they are a bit behind dogs when it comes to interpret people’s mood swings, but that doesn’t mean that their judgment can be questioned. A defining characteristic of depression is that it completely saps a person’s energy, productivity, and social skills. It is therefore inevitable that this will affect how you interact with others. And that includes pets.

No matter how hard you try to hide it, your pet can infer from your smallest gestures that something has changed. If they sense depression and anxiety in the owner, they become much more attentive and affectionate. Unfortunately, they may also imitate your behavior and become lethargic and withdrawn. The consequence of this in many cases will be loss of appetite and then a weakened immune system.

If you feel that your condition is taking a toll on your kitty, feel free to ask a friend or family member to help care for it. That doesn’t make you a bad owner!

Can they sense the approach of death?

When a sick person is nearing the end of its life, its body goes through many changes, which, just as in the case of illness, do not go unnoticed by cats. Cats living in retirement homes and similar environments are generally more familiar with the smell of death than their average peers.

Unfortunately, we have also experienced in our own lives. That the kitty did not want to leave the dying person’s side for even a minute. He stayed with him until the last moments, it was only willing to eat and drink by the patient’s bedside. The mentioned cat was allowed to leave the apartment, but in the last few days he only made short visits to the litter tray.

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