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

You’re running a fever when your snobbish cat suddenly starts sitting and cuddling with you. You may feel like your cat is worried about you, but it’s actually less chummy than that. So why does my cat sleep on me when I’m sick? The main reason is your increased body temperature. When you’re sick or have a fever, you become a massive heating pad for a cat. This is more evident if the weather is cold.

Why does my cat lay on when I’m sick?

Cats are mysterious beings, so it can be challenging to decipher their behavior. This includes their increased affection whenever their owners get sick.

There are many explanations for why a cat won’t leave your side when you’re sick. The following are the most common explanations, which I also observed with my own cat Watson:

1. Change in routine

Our cats get used to our daily habits, so if you suddenly stayed in bed for too long, the kitty would be intrigued. Your cat would want to know what’s going on. They do this by sleeping and staying by your side.

If your cat is used to having you up and running by 6 in the morning, staying in bed up to 10 am is a big change. They may vocalize loudly and try to rub your face as a way to get your attention. This is the common scenario if your cat is hungry.

Also, being sick will make you sleep more. And when you sleep more, you’re likely to miss feeding and playtime schedules. Your cat will consider this alarming, and it will look for you around the house.

As much as being sick is awful, it will also be stressful for your cat. A stressed cat will always seek comfort beside their owners, thus the reason why it sleeps with you all the time.

2. Optimal warmth

At night, cats seek warm spots to stay toasty. This is why your kitty will be laying on top of you or even on your face when you’re sick. The warmth of your body is very comfortable that you will even hear the cat purring.

Warmth is also the reason why cats love boxes and paper cardboards. If it’s not bothering you, your cat will be happy to absorb the warmth.

3. Sensitivity to human illnesses

This area is quite vague, actually. Many experts have tried conducting studies to know if cats can detect illness in humans. The results are inconclusive, so you should take this with a grain of salt.

Many cat owners I’ve talked to said that their cats would often knead and lick them when they are sick. It’s perceived that the kitty is trying to make their owners feel better. However, no studies are supporting this claim.

Still, I have a theory as to why cats tend to be affectionate and caring when their owners are sick. When we are sick, we often grunt, sniffle, and have increased breathing. Some will also cry. This behavior will catch your cat’s attention, and since they are attuned to our emotions, they will try to make comforting gestures. This includes licking, kneading, and bunting. Nevertheless, this is just my theory based on what I experienced with Watson.

Lastly, it’s possible that you fall, had a seizure, or any sudden movement that could alert the cat. If followed by inactivity, your kitty will be stressed and would prefer to sleep by your side.

Does my cat know that I’m sick?

Like what I mentioned earlier, there’s no way to know if cats are indeed aware that their owners are sick. Some owners say that their cats knew that they are sick even before the symptoms occur. They report their cats trying to warn them by pawing or licking. All of these can be accidental, but there’s no way to know for sure – at least for now.

On the scientific side, experts suggest that cats’ strong sense of smell may give them the ability to detect physiological changes. This is the same concept used in training medical alert dogs.

Our bodies release different scents when something changes in our biological chemistry. Although it’s not detectable by human noses, previous studies suggest that animals like dogs and cats can pick it up.

This could explain why a cat may seem to know that their owners are sick. This is more evident in conditions like diabetes, kidney failure, and other serious health problems. But then again, this begs for more studies to be proven true.

How to stop my cat from sleeping on me

While your cats only want your body’s warmth, it may not be comfortable for you. If you want to keep the cat at bay without hurting its feelings, you can do the following to break the habit.

  • Offer an alternative. To keep your cat from seeking the warmth of your body, you should give the kitty its own heating pad. This way, you can rest and recuperate without the disturbance of your cat. Just make sure that you set the heating pad at the right temperature to prevent burning your feline.
  • Distract the kitty. Another way to keep the kitty out of your bedroom is to distract it with interactive toys. As your kitty plays, you will be sleeping quietly.
  • Ask someone for help. You can ask a family member to substitute for your cat duties while you recover from your illness. This way, your cat will not invade your bed for food and playtime. You can also ask a friend to drop by several times a day to feed the cat.
  • Board your cat. If you’re extremely sick and can’t take care of your cat, you can book a boarding service in the meantime. This way, your cat will be cared for properly while you rest. Don’t worry because pet boarding services send daily updates to owners and even call them to assure that their pets are doing well.
  • Close the door. One of the simplest ways to stop the cat from invading your bed is by closing the bedroom door. The only challenge here is if your cat will cry and scratch on the door until you open it.
  • Use a cat repellent. Your last resort would be a cat repellent. As much as possible, I don’t recommend this unless the situation is helpless. Cats hate repellents and may form a negative behavior later on.


Why does my cat sleep on me when I’m sick? Your body warmth is the leading reason. It’s also possible that your kitty picked up changes in your routine and your stress. If your cat is being bothersome, it’s best to keep it out of the room while you rest.