Do Cats Fake Illness for Attention?

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Have you ever wondered if your cat is faking an illness for attention? While we can’t know for sure what’s going on inside our cat’s heads, there are some telltale signs that they might be faking it.

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There’s a common misconception that cats fake illness for attention. While it’s true that some cats may act sick when they’re actually healthy, this behavior is usually not intentional. Cats are instinctual hunters and survivors, so it’s natural for them to hide their pain and weakness. In the wild, a sick or injured cat is more likely to be targeted by predators, so they have evolved to mask their symptoms.

Cats also tend to be stoic creatures, so they often don’t show signs of illness until they are very sick. This can make it difficult to tell when your cat is truly unwell. If you think your cat may be sick, it’s important to pay close attention to their behavior and consult with your veterinarian.

What is Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy?

Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) is a mental illness and a form of child abuse. The caregiver of a child, usually a mother, exaggerates or creates health problems for the child.

This type of abuse is hard to detect because the caregiver seems to be providing loving care for a sick child. But close examination may reveal that the child’s illnesses are not what they seem.

The caregiver may:

-Regularly take the child to different doctors, or to the emergency room, for medical help
-Seem to enjoy the attention they get from medical professionals
-Make up or exaggerate symptoms, or falsely report them
-Pretend the child is ill by giving them medicine or injuring them
-Prevent others from seeing the child alone

Signs Your Cat May Be Faking Illness

Cats are masters of deception. When they want something, they will go to great lengths to get it. This includes faking illness.

There are several signs that your cat may be faking illness. First, they may suddenly become more affectionate than usual. This is their way of trying to win your sympathy and get the attention they crave.

Second, they may start vocalizing more often or meowing in a plaintive tone. This is another way of trying to get your attention and sympathy.

Third, they may start ‘accidentally’ knocking things over or making messes. This is their way of getting you to notice them and give them the attention they want.

If you suspect that your cat is faking illness, pay close attention to their behavior. If you see any of the above signs, it’s likely that they are indeed faking illness for attention.

Why Do Cats Fake Illness?

There are a few reasons cats may fake illness. One is attention-seeking behavior. If a cat feels she isn’t getting enough attention from her owner, she may start meowing excessively or engaging in other undesirable behaviors, such as urinating outside the litter box.

Another reason cats may fake illness is to escape from a stressful situation, such as the introduction of a new pet into the household. A cat may also exhibit signs of illness when she’s nervous about going to the vet or traveling in a car.

Some cats fake illness as a way to manipulate their owners into giving them what they want. For example, a cat who hates being left alone may pretend to be sick in order to convince her owner to stay home with her.

How to Respond When Your Cat is Faking Illness

If you think your cat might be faking illness, there are a few things you can do to get to the bottom of the issue. First, take note of the symptoms your cat is exhibiting. If they are vomiting, has diarrhea, or is coughing excessively, these could be signs of a genuine illness and you should take them to see a veterinarian right away.

If your cat is displaying more minor symptoms, such as lethargy or lack of appetite, you can try paying more attention to them to see if that alleviates the problem. Spend some extra time petting them, playing with them, and giving them treats. If they improve after getting this extra attention, it’s likely that they were just feeling neglected and were faking illness as a way to get your attention.

Of course, it’s always possible that your cat is truly sick even if they are also seeking extra attention. If their symptoms don’t improve after being given more attention, or if they seem to be getting worse, make an appointment with a vet to get them checked out.


In conclusion, there is no definitive answer to whether or not cats fake illness for attention. However, there are several factors that suggest that they may be more likely to do so if they feel neglected or are seeking attention. If you suspect that your cat is faking illness, it is always best to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any serious health concerns.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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