Can cats smell diseases?


Dogs, with their incredible sense of smell, can be trained to sniff out some diseases in humans, including low blood sugar and yes, cancer.

What about cats They're generally less attuned to humans than dogs, but do they have the ability to track down human diseases?

Credit: yotananchankheaw / iStock / GettyImages

Some pet parents claim their cats discovered their cancer.

There is anecdotal evidence that cats discovered cancer in their humans. One woman claimed that her cat made her aware of her breast cancer by repeatedly jumping on the affected breast. One man claimed that his cat warned him of his lung cancer by dragging his paw over the left side of the man's body, where doctors later found a large tumor.

MORE: Do Cats and Dogs Really Know When Their Owners Die?

So far, these anecdotal reports are all the evidence we have. Unlike dogs, there have been no formal studies examining cats' ability to develop cancer. Perhaps that's simply because it is harder to motivate cats, who are known to be less motivated than their dogs, to learn such a skill. Whatever the reason, we don't have any research to point it out - at least not yet.

Credit: Konstantin Aksenov / iStock / GettyImages

Untapped potential

However, some experts strongly believe that cats have the potential to detect disease, as well as other things like bombs or disaster survivors.

A 2017 paper published in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science suggests that cats have better "olfactory discrimination" than dogs. Kristyn Vitale Shreve, who co-authored the study with Monique Udell, believes this ability makes cats even better at spying than dogs: "Given the importance of smell in cat sensing, cats could be trained to distinguish between a variety of smells which are therefore used in work roles to identify specific people, to identify medical smells, to sniff out bombs or to sniff drugs. "

MEOW: Here's what cats think of people

In addition, some training experts claim that the idea of ​​the "inaccessible cat" is a myth. They indicate that through training classes, many cats have successfully learned to sit, stay, jump, ring a bell, and more. So it is not impossible to motivate a cat to discover certain smells.


Cats seem to have the potential to detect diseases like cancer because of their advanced olfactory discrimination. However, since we have no research on the subject at this point, it is difficult to say definitively whether a cat can sniff out cancer. Hopefully that will change soon.

  • Some pet parents claim their cats discovered their cancer.
  • Untapped potential
  • Conclusion
  • Share with your friends