Why Does My Cat Sleep On Me When I’m Sick?

Why Does My Cat Sleep On Me When I'm Sick

Cats are playful pets that can be a handful, but they can also exhibit mental and emotional intelligence. Even if they look aloof, they can be very affectionate and may sleep between your legs or beside you. Cat experts note that felines can detect ailments or diseases. Their superior sense of smell can sniff out a chemical change in their owner’s body due to a disease. 

Why does my cat sleep on me when I’m sick?

Here are some reasons why your cat sleeps on you when you are sick:

1. She might be hypersensitive to illness. 

While there is no scientific evidence that cats can understand or comfort you when you are sick, there are many testimonies from cat owners that attest to it. Despite a cat’s limited understanding of human communication, cats can understand and bond with their favorite humans. Many cat owners post on social media blogs and forums about their bonding experiences with their cats.

Many cat lovers notice that their pets seem to understand when they are unwell by exhibiting unusual behavior like sleeping on them and not leaving their side.

 2. Cats are sensitive to emotions. 

According to a scientific study done by Moriah Galvan and Jennifer Wonk, cats tend to be sensitive to emotion and can read the sentiments of humans. The study was meant to observe the emotional intellect of cats.  While there is still no concrete research to confirm if cats can interpret human emotion, many cat owners attest that cats do. Cat owners share on blogs and forums online that their cats seem to know when something is wrong with their owners or if their owner is feeling different than normal. 

3. Your cat is a master at reading body language.

Cat experts note that felines easily learn to master the body language of humans and can understand your voice and specific actions. Cat owners have observed that when they call their cats and tap on the arm of a couch, the cat will jump on the couch and lie on their owner’s lap. Cats will also instinctively go to an area of the house when they hear their owner’s voice there. 

Similarly, cats can sense when you are sick and not your usual self. They can take cues from your body language and appearance. They can also easily notice if you are staying in bed more than usual. 

4. Your cat is a master of routine.  

Cats adhere to a certain routine from kittenhood, and they become accustomed to being petted, cuddled, and fed at certain times of day. If you are sick and unable to feed and care for your cat, she will instantly know it and sense that something is unusual. Cats tend to become stressed when their routine is altered, but they will also manifest surprising behavior when they sense that you are unwell. Some cat owners attest that their cats, which typically do not sleep with them or beside them, snuggle up and sleep on them when they are ill. 

5. Your cat sleeps on you because of your warm temperature.

Cats normally sleep beside their owners or on their feet to keep themselves warm and comfy. This is often observed during the winter season. Similarly, this could be a reason why your cat sleeps on you when you are sick. 

When you have a fever, your temperature naturally rises. Your cat finds this an ideal excuse to sleep on you. Also, if you are sick you are almost always lying in bed. Your cat probably finds this appealing so she can snuggle up for extra body heat.

6. Your cat is worried about you. 

Cats may seem aloof, but cat experts note that it is often just a facade; felines do develop an emotional connection with their owners. Dennis Turner, a zoologist, confirms that cats miss their owners when they are away. Similarly, cats express compassion for their humans and become worried when they are sick and lying helplessly in bed. 

Some cat owners share that when they are sick their cats become extra cuddly and affectionate.  Cat owners with multiple cats attest that their cats fight less and spend more time sleeping when their owners are sick.  This just goes to show that cats understand when you are unwell and are able to recognize that you are not okay when you sneeze, cough, or throw up. 

Cats have a superior sense of smell because they have 200 million odor sensors in their noses. Due to this ability, it is assumed that they can sense when chemicals switch or change in a human’s body, such as blood sugar. Cats sense chemical changes and will relate it to the symptoms that you manifest, alerting them that you are feeling unwell. 

Surprisingly, cats have always been revered because of their extraordinary ability to detect their owner’s illnesses early. There have been cases where cats have saved their owners from a seizure or heart failure by waking up family members to alert them. Some cats bite their owners to make them aware that they are in danger or to keep them awake so the owner can take pills for blood sugar problems and be able to do their sugar level reading. 

Do cats know when you are dying?

While there are no concrete studies that prove if cats know when their human is about to die, cats do seem to understand.  Felines rely on body language to communicate with one another, and they are attuned to the biological and behavioral changes of other animals around them. Similarly, domesticated cats are attuned to the biological and behavioral changes of the humans who care for them. They can detect sickness and changes in body temperature and odor. 

Cats are equipped with a superior sense of smell and they can pick up the slightest chemical change in their owner’s body.  Aside from that, they are so-called “furry psychics” because they have a “sixth sense.” A strong proof of this is a cat named Oscar in Providence, Rhode Island. He is a resident cat in a nursing home and he seems to know when residents in the advanced dementia unit are about to die. 

The staff at the nursing home relate that they know when someone is about to die in that unit because Oscar goes to the resident’s room, jumps on the bed, curls up next to the patient, and purrs. 


Cats may seem aloof, but they are compassionate creatures that tend to form a strong bond with their owners.  Your cat can sense when you are sick because she has a superior sense of smell and can detect the slightest chemical changes in your body. She sleeps on you when you are sick because you provide extra heat, she is sensitive to your different emotions, and because she is a master at reading your body language. 

Image: istockphoto.com / bymandesigns