cat at window

In recent weeks, there have been numerous reports of cats who could detect serious illness in their humans, and who even saved their humans’ lives. We previously reported on a woman in Wisconsin whose newly adopted cat alerted a family member that she was having a seizure. There’s a cat in England who “diagnosed” her human’s breast cancer before doctors found it, and a cat in Virginia who saved her human from dying from a brain aneurism.

Several studies have shown dogs’ ability to distinguish people with both early and late cancers from healthy controls. It is believed that dogs can identify VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) that are present in a person’s breath who has cancer. Seizure dogs alert their owners to an impending epileptic seizure; how dogs do this is a mystery, but some trainers and researchers think they detect subtle changes in human behavior or scent before an episode occurs. I have not found any research done with cats, but I don’t think it’s too much of a leap to assume that cats would be as sensitive to changes in a human’s body chemistry as dogs – if not more so.

Cats and their humans often mirror each others’ physical and emotional states.  Cats are sensitive creatures as well as natural healers, and in my Reiki practice, I’ve sometimes seen them take on their human’s problems.  Because of the bond shared between cat and human in a close relationship, energetic imbalances may be shared as well. So why wouldn’t they also be able to detect illness before it manifests?

I find this topic particularly fascinating since I’ve always believed in the healing power of cats. The Chicago Tribune recently reported that a 10-year study at the University of Minnesota Stroke Center found that cat owners were 40 percent less likely to have heart attacks than non-cat owners. According to research discussed in this news report, people with pets save the Australian health service about $880 million per year and save Germany about $6.6 billion per year.

Those of us who share our lives with cats don’t really need scientific proof that cats are good for us, but isn’t it nice to know that they’re not only good for our emotional health, they’re also good for our physical health, and might even save our lives?

Have you had a purr-sonal experience with your cat either sensing that something was wrong, or helping you heal?

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26 Comments on Cats are good for your health

  1. My 1 year old male Olaf, lets me know every time I have pneumonia or when my oxygen levels drop. He will wrap himself around my feet and try to get me to sit down. Once I sit down he will sit on me ao i can’t move. Another cat I had BEBE was acting super strange one day. He wanted my complete undivided attention and wanted me to constantly hold him, which he hated. I was 30 weeks pregnant at the time and he started kneading my stomach then he looked me in the eyes and down at my stomach and back in my eyes. His eyes were so sad. Then i realized I had not felt the baby move all day. I went to the doctor and my baby had passed away. He knew before anyone and was trying to tell me. That is when my love for cats had bevun to grow and I was not a big cat person at the time.

  2. One of my cats started yowling and miaowing so much more than usual a few months or so ago. He would sort of “talk” to me before but not this. It’s been nearly driving me mad. And he sits on my lap more than usual too gazing at me. Then they discovered breast cancer by chance a few weeks ago. My cats, especially this one, are especially close to me, he gazes at me so much as though I’m a god, and he hates anyone else, I’m the only person he will relate to or go to so we do have a special bond. Do you think he could be sensing the cancer in me? We’ve discovered I’ve had it for a while and the doctors didn’t tell me and he’s been slowly yowling more and more to the point of distraction which isn’t him. I’m desperately trying to decide what to do as I have very serious heart problems and could die on the table whereas if I leave it I will at least have a little longer left in this world. Could he be sensing this? I’m truly in a dilemma about what to do but could he be telling me to get the surgery done and it will be all right? I’m in a dilemma anyway and now I’ve suddenly realized it could be what’s wrong with him I’m wondering if I should get it done. It would be interesting to see if he settles if I have surgery. I can’t have chemo or anything only surgery due to another illness and it would leave me bedridden for the rest of my life so I have to get it done quickly as time means more than usual because of surgery being the only treatment even though it’s primary cancer and not aggressive.

  3. My cat is about a year old. Me and my spouse both ate smokers. My cat “Gizzy” will crawl up on my chest neck area and sleep. I can just flick my lighter and she will scratch me ad run away, and then she will just sit back and stare at me. My Ol’ man can light his cigarette and sit there and smoke and she will stay right there in his lap and it doesn’t bother here at all. My 19 year old daughter can come over and smoke around Gizzy and it doesn’t seem to bother her a bit only me. Is something wrong with me?

  4. My issue is my older cat will wake me up at odd hours desperate for attention. all he wants is for me to love on Him for a few minutes then he curls up as close as he and go to sleep. He doesn’t do it often. I sleep through everything else. I think he has bad dreams or is agreed I’m not there. His original owner went to jail in the middle of the night and he was locked up alone with his brother for over a week then h his brother was adopted and he wasn’t. I ended up with him cause I needed a therapy animal. he may wake me up because e I do something in my sleep that scares him.. I have brain damage so I may be shaking having a seizure or a nightmare or he will do if I’m sick. he won’t don’t if I’ve got the kitten in bed with me or if he’s been in bed with me all night. the kitten will wake me up sometimes, not as often.or in the same eat she usually wakes me up when he comes to bed and I haven’t left enough room for him cause she loves to sleep curled up on him right next to me. But him I don’t know if its him or me as the reason he wakes me up. The kitten was a starving I mean starving dumped with her litter. One day I was on the porch to my apartment and she climbed into my lap randomly and went to sleep so I took her in gave her a bath and fed her. stray he was abandoned

  5. My 2 year old cat, Yeti, is always kneeding at either my neck groin region depending on looking at me. He seems to sense when I have a headache, or a reoccurance of a ovarian cyst. I am 10 years in remmission from cancer. I didn’t have him then, but he knows that when I am hurting from the cyst, he tries to massage the pain away, though he doesn’t quite get at the back of my neck for the tension headaches that he senses. He just knows when I’m in pain

  6. 10 years ago I had a hysterectomy. on the third day after my surgery I was lying on my bed on my side in a lot of pain. My maine coone cat Charlie got into bed with me and stretched out along my abdomen his back flat against me. His warmth felt so good! He stayed like that with me for 4 hours. He had never done that before nor has he since. When he left all the pain and discomfort of the surgery had left and I was back to work in 6 weeks rather than 8. I knew than he was a healer!

  7. My cat (“Lear”) has always been personable but not necessarily a cuddler by choice. A couple years ago, he began sleeping near my head and would nuzzle the side of my neck. It was such a weird experience for me but not unwelcome.

    A few months after this began, I found a lump in my throat. I had it checked, assuming it was some sort of thyroid cyst (they run in the family), but we quickly discovered that I had Follicular Carcinoma, or Thyroid cancer. The treatment was easy but the aftereffects of having my thyroid removed were devastating. I was always cold, fatigued, and depressed by the inevitable weight gain. Lear has plastered to me since. He follows me all over the house, waits for me at the front door, and I’m told that when I I leave, he looks all over the house for me.

    Wonderful cat.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Kally. I had heard of cats being able to detect cancer, but it still amazes me every time I hear of one. Best wishes to you as you cope with the after effects of your surgery. I’m glad you have Lear to help you through it.

  8. the story I want to share about cats is one that shows their sensitivity to each other, and their capacity to teach and to learn. I adopted a brother & sister, and soon they were galavanting in the courtyard, under my watchful eye. I blinked, and the female was waaaay up the tree, and the male was in the apartment, 3 floors up. midnight…dead winter…I started to reason with her, and explained how I thought she should proceed: “just drop face first – I’ll catch you, promise!”… she continued mewling desperately.
    suddenly, the little guy came running down the stairs, looked up the tree, and showed her how to get down. he did this by straddling the tree with all 4s, and zipped up and down 3 times. he sat back near me. she peered down, and butt first, she zipped down exactly like her brother, and they both ran up the stairs. it felt good to witness that.

  9. I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 2007. My 2 yr old cat Roxie will sit on my chest at night if I am not breathing properly…to wake me up. I am supposed to be sleeping on my side but of course we don’t have much control over what happens when we are asleep. 16lb of cat on my chest definitely wakes me up. I just mentioned what Roxie doing to my doctor yesterday and he told me it’s a well known fact that cats will sense if their human is having a problem. S

  10. Cats are just so sensitive and “tuned-in” to us….two of my cats have been with me through cancer treatment and stuck to me like glue throughout. It’s amazing but they just KNOW. I’m convinced my cats have been integral in my dealing with illness and healing from illness. Likewise, when my cat Sam is “under the weather” he seeks ME out – what a wonderful symbiotic relationship we have with our beloved cats!


  11. As an animal communicator and reiki facilitator myself, I find myself humbled and in awe of the amazing healing powers of cats. Apart from all the numerous examples I have through my consultations, my own four cats each work on the different emotional imbalances that I and my family may go through naturally in any single day. I truly believe that our animals will physically manifest any illness that we may be heading towards, or physically manifest any emotional long-term imbalance that we may be feeling, creating such things as arthritis, digestive complaints etc. Thank you for a wonderful article. Love and light.

    • The way our animals sometimes take on our own energetic imbalances to help us gives a whole new meaning to unconditional love, doesn’t it, Sammy?

  12. Thankfully I have not been ill, however my kitties are by my sad when I am sad, and no matter how hard a day it has been they always put a smile on my face and light a fire in my heart.

  13. After working outdoors in extreme heat, I melted into the couch with heat exhaustion. I was out of it and wasn’t sure how to communicate clearly to my husband there was a problem. He realized there was a problem when my cat started walking and pawing all over me. Thanks to my cat, Louie, my husband went into action.

  14. Both times that I was pregnant my female cat was ALWAYS under my feet and in my lap. Usually she just wanted to lay close to you for lots of cuddling but with each pregnancy she was IN MY LAP every time I sat down. Actually, she is the one that alerted me to my 2nd pregnancy. 😀

  15. It’s true. Cats are very in tune with their person’s state. I had surgery last year and my orange tabby, Tigger, didn’t leave my side for days while I was recovering.

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