Do Cats Get Clingy When You’Re Sick

It’s common for cat owners to notice that their feline friends seem more affectionate and attentive when they are feeling under the weather. Many cat lovers have stories of their cats snuggling up extra close or being more insistent for attention when the human companion is sick. This often leads cat owners to wonder – do cats get clingy when you’re sick? The answer seems to be yes, cats often become more clingy and affectionate when their human is ill or not feeling well.

In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why cats may become more attached and clingy with their owners when sick. We’ll look at their extraordinary senses and ability to detect changes in human health and behavior. Understanding why your cat gets extra cuddly during times of sickness can help strengthen your bond and provide comfort when you need it most.

Explaining Cat Behavior

Cats form close attachments and bonds with their human owners. According to studies, cats and humans share a similar range of emotions and hormones, allowing cats to sympathize and sense when something is different with their human’s health or mood [1]. Cats have a powerful sense of smell and can detect subtle changes in odor caused by hormones, sickness, emotions, or medications. They are also extremely observant of human behavior and movement. When a human is feeling unwell, cats notice differences like changes in routine, energy level, amount of affection, body posture, and facial expressions. Their strong observational skills and ability to pick up on smells and hormones are key to how cats detect illness in their owners.

Signs of Clinginess

When cats sense that their human companion is unwell, they often exhibit clingy behavior as a sign of comfort and support. Some of the most common signs of clinginess in cats include:

  • Increased cuddling – Cats who are normally independent may suddenly become velcro cats, constantly by your side and wanting to snuggle up on your lap or sleep next to you.
  • Following – A clingy cat will follow you from room to room, not wanting you out of their sight. They may waits outside the bathroom door or cry if you leave them to go into another room.
  • Vocalizing – Meows, trills and other cat sounds are ways for cats to communicate. A clingy cat may meow more frequently to get your attention or to check on you.

These behaviors show your cat is tuned into your feelings and wants to provide comfort. It’s their natural instinct to care for a member of their family who is unwell or weak. So while it may seem out of character, increased clinginess is your cat’s way of showing they know you need some extra love and care.1

Why Cats Become Clingy

Cats have an instinctive desire to care for sick or injured members of their colony. In the wild, other members of a cat’s colony would tend to an ill cat, keeping it warm and bringing it food until it recovered. This instinct remains strong in domestic cats.

When you are sick, your cat picks up on subtle changes in your body chemistry and behavior. Your routine and energy levels change when you are under the weather. Cats are extremely sensitive to disturbances in their environment and daily schedule. These alterations can cause them distress and uncertainty. Their natural response is to try to comfort and nurse you back to health.

As highly social creatures, cats depend on their human companions for security and affection. When you are sick, your cat’s clinginess springs from a place of concern and care. They want to be close to monitor your condition and provide soothing, healing purrs and cuddles. Their compassionate nursing reflects the strong bonds you share.


Comfort and Healing

When you’re sick, having a clingy cat can actually provide comfort and promote healing. A cat’s purring has been shown to release endorphins and lower stress hormones in humans ( Lowered stress hormones are beneficial for healing and reducing blood pressure. Cats also purr at frequencies that can help mend bones, reduce swelling, and promote relaxation.

Having your clingy cat nearby while you’re ill can make you feel cared for and loved. Petting your cat releases oxytocin, the “love hormone,” which boosts mood and eases anxiety. Your cat’s comforting presence and physical contact provides a soothing distraction from any pain or discomfort you may be experiencing.

So take advantage of those extra cuddles when your cat gets clingy because you’re under the weather. Their closeness and purring offers proven benefits to help you heal.

Caring for a Clingy Cat

When your cat is feeling sick and becomes clingy, it’s important to make sure all of their needs are being met so they can recover comfortably. Be sure to allow plenty of rest time, as sleep is essential for healing. Provide easy access to food and fresh water, warming it up to encourage eating if needed (VCA Hospitals). You may need to bring water, food, and litter to wherever your cat has chosen to rest if they lack the energy to get to their usual spot.

Don’t forget playtime, even if it’s just a quick interactive toy session. Play encourages movement and mental stimulation, both of which can help perk up a sick cat. Short play breaks followed by naps work well. Additionally, don’t neglect grooming while your cat is sick. Regularly brushing or combing helps reduce hairballs and encourages bonding (TreeVet). With some adjustments, you can keep your clingy cat content as they recover.

When to Be Concerned

While clinginess is usually a normal behavior for cats, there are some signs that may indicate an underlying medical issue. According to Dr. Gary Richter writing for Zoetis Petcare, excessive clinginess combined with other symptoms like appetite changes, vomiting, diarrhea, increased vocalization, or hiding may signify illness or pain in your cat. If your cat’s personality seems to have changed suddenly and they are showing signs of distress in addition to clinginess, it’s best to schedule a veterinarian visit to rule out any medical causes.

Likewise, the article from Pet Honesty advises taking your cat to the vet if their clingy behavior is extreme, such as following you from room to room vocalizing or blocking your path. This level of neediness may indicate an anxiety disorder or cognitive decline, which should be evaluated professionally. While some clinginess is normal, significant changes in personality combined with signs of distress warrant a veterinary examination to ensure your cat’s health and wellbeing.

Making the Most of Cuddle Time

While a clingy cat can be annoying at times, it’s important to cherish the special bonding moments you share. There are lots of activities you can do with your clingy cat to strengthen your relationship:

  • Brush your cat while they sit in your lap. This is relaxing for both of you.
  • Play with interactive toys like feathers on a string or laser pointers. Engage their natural hunting instincts.
  • Read out loud while petting your cat. They find your voice soothing.
  • Give your cat a gentle massage. Knead their muscles and scratch behind their ears.
  • Take your cat outside on a leash or set up a catio so they can get fresh air.
  • Do clicker training with treats to mentally stimulate your cat.

While clinginess can be trying, it’s important not to punish your cat. With patience and affection, you can turn cuddle time into a rewarding experience. Enjoy this unique chance to bond!

Cats vs. Other Pets

While cats are known to comfort and care for their sick human companions, they are not the only pet that exhibits this type of behavior. Dogs in particular are also very attentive to their owner’s health and will often become more clingy and affectionate when sensing sickness or distress.

According to veterinarians, dogs have an excellent sense of smell that allows them to detect changes in physiology and behavior that may indicate illness. There are many stories of dogs persistently staying close to owners who later discovered serious medical issues. Their protective instincts make dogs very in tune with their human pack.

However, not all pets demonstrate this tendency to care for sick owners. Small mammals like hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs have much weaker social bonds with humans compared to dogs and cats. And reptiles, fish, and amphibians are even less likely to alter their behavior based on human sickness.

So while cats are very nurturing creatures in times of illness, dogs should also be commended for their own special caring abilities. Cats and dogs seem to have an innate desire to watch over and comfort those who need it most.


In summary, it’s common for cats to become more clingy and affectionate when their human companion is sick or not feeling well. Cats are intuitive creatures and can often sense when something is off with us. The reasons behind this clingy behavior appear to be their protective instincts and desire to comfort us when we need it most.

While some cats maintain their independence no matter what, many do go through behavioral changes and become more attached to their owners during times of illness. This is likely an instinctive reaction as they pick up on physical and emotional cues indicating we are in distress or need care. Their heightened clinginess demonstrates their natural caregiving tendencies.

Rather than be annoyed by a clingy cat, try to appreciate the comfort and healing they can provide. Having your special feline friend by your side when you are under the weather can lift your spirits. And don’t forget to give them some extra love in return!

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