Can cats camouflage disease? Research suggests yes.

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…… Wait, I mean master manipulator. They have a unique ability to get what they want, when they want it, and as much of it as they want. Dogs have this ability too. Your dog may act “thirsty” when he wants something, such as when he wants to be left alone or wants to go for a walk. But what’s even more endearing about dogs is that they expose their hearts on their dirty sleeves. What about cats? Can cats fake illness to get attention and food?

Let’s take a closer look at whether cats can feign illness.


Your feline friend may only weigh 9 pounds, but they’re a big eater! But when you think about it, cats don’t eat carbs, and their bodies need protein 24 hours a day, so they need to eat a lot too. People who are away from home usually choose a trusted caregiver to come in and take care of their cats because they don’t want to put them through any more stress than they have to. As for myself, when I’m not home, the cats always eat a lot. Overeating, i.e. eating when you’re not actually hungry, often happens when people are feeling anxious. Cats are no exception!

But what about when you’re actually pretending to be sick? You might be surprised at how well your cat can act …

LiveScience reviewed a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association that detailed several cats that showed strange signs of illness when faced with stress. Some cats don’t mind going to the vet’s office, but most do. Cats don’t like change, being poked or exposed to bright lights. But what about their daily living environment?

In a study published at , researchers hypothesized that cats “pretend” to be sick or injured when their daily life or environment changes.

For research purposes, they called these changes “extraordinary external events.” The duration of this study was not short. In total, the researchers collected data for 77 weeks after the changes continued to occur. The study’s lead researcher, Judy Stella, who was a doctoral student in veterinary preventive medicine at Ohio State University, conducted the study years ago with the hypothesis that cats’ behavior changes significantly when their routines are disrupted.

The changes these cats experienced included altering their diets, stopping music and playtime, delaying their usual feeding time by three hours, and even changing janitors. The study included both healthy cats and cats with feline interstitial cystitis (IC). When the study was dramatically altered, healthy and sick cats showed nearly the same proportion of disease tendencies. Some of the “sick behaviors” included increased hairballs, avoidance of the litter box and even refusal to eat.

Tony Buffington, a professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Ohio State University, said, “Healthy cats and even healthy mammals can be stressed by environmental disturbances and exhibit disease behaviors as a result.

When you think about it, this behavior is not surprising. In other words, cats don’t like ‘unusual external events’ and will react accordingly. For the record, I’m human, but so are cats!

Have you learned something new about your feline friend? Share this article with the cat lovers you know so they can learn something too.

Another study recently published by the University of California, Davis, proves what we cat owners have known all along.

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