Do cats know when their owner is sick?
My female cat usually sleeps alone in a different room when I of course sleep in my bedroom. She's never interested in sleeping with anyone in the family. In fact, she seems to get annoyed and leave the place if the person (trying to sleep with her) touches her a lot. She's still nice and accepts family members bothering her a little. And depending on the person she either swats or leaves when she's fed up with him or her, and that's when the person exaggerates with giving her too much love (which I don't see as too much love for a cat).
But yesterday I got a cough attack (because of asthma which is not caused by her, it's because I got a male cat to live with us and I'm allergic to males). She was playing fetch at the time, by giving me a head band she loves and I throw it. I threw the head band, she ran, I started coughing a lot and having my chest closed. I think I also sighed a little too. She then lost interest in playing and jumped on my bed (where I was trying to rest a little and where she NEVER hangs out) and it's like she notices something is happening but she can't talk, Looking away then at me again then away etc..as if a human was thinking and looking for an answer. She totally lost interest in the game. She then decided to stay on my bed and then slept. The shocking thing was that lots of my family members came to her, petted her, gave her love (which she doesn't really like, she can usually take it for some time, but then she gets fed up with it), and she got up wanting to leave but decided to stay.
After my family got out of my room (which my sisters and I share and the cat knows someone can suddenly get in and bother her, making it a reason to why she never sleeps in my bedroom) she stayed in the same spot, made herself comfortable and tried to sleep (usually if she had to stay in the bedroom she'd jump to the top drawer of my closet to be able to rest.)
I did once in a while sit down and start coughing again and she gave me a look that says "I know you're sick and I don't like it" (I'm not sure about that really) but then closes her eyes and tries to sleep again with my very disturbing sounds. And when I woke up, many hours later, she was still there!! It's really surprising to me that she actually stayed.
She used to sleep by our sides sometimes only when she was a kitten, and whenever we wake up we know that it's impossible for us to see her still where she'd been before we closed our eyes. Because she simply didn't like to sleep with us a lot, she may feel affectionate and sleep with us sometimes, but there's a 95% chance she leaves while we sleep, or if she's trapped in our room she'll wait at the door.
So my question is, why did my cat sacrifice her time sleeping in an unusual spot and staying right at my feet without moving?
(For more information i did sometimes stretch and my feet push her a bit, and still my cat didn't care, she stayed right at the spot. I sometimes annoy and tease her from my love to her and she would usually leave or bite in obvious discomfort. She doesn't hurt me, though, her bites are meant to warn me. It seems to be an attack while in fact she just puts her teeth on me. And yes, she could hurt me if she liked, as I saw her bad side sometimes. She just didn't do a thing to me, or leave my side, even though usually she'd make it obvious if she didn't like what I do to her.)
There has been some basic scientific inquiry into this area (http://www.bbc.co.uk/earth/story/20151015-your-cat-can-pick-up-on-how-you-are-feeling) but there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence that yes they do. In my own experience (and that of every cat-serving friend I've known) they display markedly different behavior when their human is unwell or noticeably upset.
Both my two get much more "snuggly" when I'm unwell, often wanting to be near me much more than normal and will be display protective or guarding behaviors as .well