Are Cats Better at Letting You Know They are Sick Than Dogs?

Are Cats Better at Letting You Know They are Sick Than Dogs?

Health & Safety

When a pet falls ill or is injured, it can be an extremely worrying time for their owners especially if the fact they are unwell has not been noticed straight away. As a rule of thumb, the earlier a condition is noticed, diagnosed and then treated, the better the outcome tends to be for the animal involved. This begs the question of whether cats are better at letting an owner know when they are ill than dogs?

How Cats Typically Behave When Sick or Injured

When a cat is ill or has been injured, they typically like to hide themselves away until they feel better. The reason being that when a cat is not feeling one hundred percent, they think they are more vulnerable to predators which means they feel a whole lot safer when they are out of sight. This is generally somewhere they feel safe and in itself can be a real worry to an owner especially if they don't know where their cats have gone.

Cats can also show aggressive behaviour when they are ill and will hiss and scratch a person even if they are usually very kind natured. The reason for this unusual behaviour is because they are in pain. It's just a natural defensive reaction to being approached or touched. It is not because they have turned into more aggressive characters overnight and is a clear sign that there is something terribly wrong.

Anyone who shares a home with a feline companion knows that their pet loves to sleep for hours during the day, often waking up in the evening and wanting to play! If, however, you notice that your pet is sleeping more than they usually do, it could be because they are feeling under the weather and a trip to the vet would definitely be in order.

When a cat is unwell, they go off their food really quickly, refusing to eat even a favourite titbit. The problem is that cats can lose condition very quickly and if they've lost their appetites, the chances are they are not drinking enough water either. This can result in them becoming dehydrated which could seriously and negatively impact their kidney and liver function. In a worst case scenario, it could lead to total organ failure which would prove fatal.

If your cat is allowed to go outside, the chances are you would not know if they have got a tummy upset which results in them having the runs. Again, this can make it harder to spot whether they are getting a little too dehydrated or not unless they have an "accident" in the house that is.

How Dogs Typically Behave When they are Sick or Injured

When a dog is feeling unwell the signs of there being a problem can sometimes go unnoticed depending on what is wrong with them. A slight tummy upset would probably not be noticed if you let your dog out into a back garden to do their business whereas if you take a dog out for a walk, you would pick up on the fact they are passing looser stools.

Unlike cats, dogs don't try to hide away when they are feeling under the weather, but they will typically want to lie in their beds, showing no interest in things they normally get very excited about. When a dog is lethargic and not willing to go out for a walk, it's a sure sign that something is wrong that would need to be checked out by a vet sooner rather than later.

Just like their feline counterparts, dogs too can become aggressive when they are feeling under the weather and much like cats, they typically just want to be left alone although to a lesser degree. If you touch a sore spot, a dog may well react in an aggressive way, but only because they are in pain. A dog's nose can also give an inkling into their general health, with a dry nose being a sign that something may be wrong.

Some dogs are "food monsters" which is true of breeds like the Labrador and will even want to eat when they are not feeling one hundred percent. This can make it that much harder to know when there is something wrong with them. However, most dogs when they are ill do go off their food and will show a reluctance to eat anything even if it is a favourite treat. If they do take it in their mouths, but show no real keenness to eat it as they normally would, again it's time to get them checked out by a vet.


When it comes to whether dogs are better at telling their owners they are sick than cats are, it is generally easier to see when our canine friends are not feeling one hundred percent simply because they are less independent minded that their feline counterparts. We tend to spend more time with a dog because we take them out for walks, for rides in the car and to visit family and friends with us. Therefore, when there is something wrong with them, we tend to pick up the fact quicker than when a cat is feeling under the weather.



Pets for studWanted pets

Accessories & services

Knowledge hub


Support & safety portal
Pets for saleAll Pets for sale