Can Cats Be Autistic?

How many times do you study your cat and wonder if Can Cats Be Autistic? Probably because it stares into space way too much or because it keeps running around the house and garden for no reason. So do these activities mean that your cat has some form or autism or just that it has a unique personality?


What Is Autism?

What Is Autism?

In humans, autism has a whole spectrum. Different autistic persons feature a different set of conditions that are characterized by different challenges including repetitive behaviours, impaired social skills and problems communicating effectively.

However, it should be pointed out that not all the signs of autism can be interpreted as deficits. This is because different persons can have a set of unique strengths or even learn to behave and interact normally, though differently compared to other persons. High level of autism is known as Asperger’s Syndrome.

That said, cat owners have a tendency to anthropomorphize their cats. They provide them with human qualities. It is because of this that most claim that their cats love them back, understand their emotions, and even miss them when they are gone.

 But unfortunately, cats are not human beings and can never be however much they try or display human-like behaviours. The truth is, cats can never socialize like humans do, cannot see what humans see and cannot perceive the world like humans do.

Do Cats Show Signs Of Autism? 

While cats cannot morph into human beings, they do show similarities in some instances. If you subscribe to the thought that autism is determined by the nervous signals shooting at great speeds in the brain nerve cells, and that it is depicted in forms of problematic behaviours, then yes, cats do show signs of autism. But this should not be mistaken for having autism.

How Do Cats Display Autism?

There are numerous symptoms of autism in humans that cats may mimic. Below are brief explanations in the common categories the symptoms shine through in cats and help answer Can Cats Be Autistic?.


This is one of the most obvious and eminent symptom of autism in humans and cats too. Autistic patients lack a firm grip when it comes to verbal communication. Additionally, they tend to get excessively vocal towards one individual.

If your cat meows, purrs or chirps when it is close to you, it does not mean that it has some form of autism. It could be that it is naturally expressive. You know, there are some cat breeds that are naturally expressive. On the flip side, there are some cats that are naturally less vocal.

If the behaviour in your cat has been triggered by some form of distress, emotional or physical trauma, you should seek a vets input on the situation. Otherwise, you should not be too fast to interpret your cat’s quietness or loudness for being autistic.

Lacking in Social Interaction

All cat breeds are different. However, most share in their independent nature and need for some alone time. There are times that they are noticeably disinterested in other cats and animals in general and even persons in the house.

True, anti-social behaviour is a symptom of autism in some persons. However, it is a definite determining factor. In the event you notice that your cat is displaying some antisocial behaviour towards the animals and persons it meets, you should not prejudge, it is most likely a temperament issue and nothing to do with it having autism.

It should be pointed out that the level of interaction in a cat is greatly affected by the level of interaction (socially), with humans and other animals during its growth. The more a cat interacts while it is growing, the friendlier it is bound to be when it is all huge and grown up.

Not unless you notice a sudden change in the social behaviour of your cat (moving from being very social and interactive to a loner and hiding away from everyone), you should not be alarmed. If you are ever in doubt, feel free to consult with a professional vet.

If you are looking to get your cat to be playful, a bunch of toys might help. In this case, you might want to consider toys for hyperactive cats like the PetSafe Pounce Pet Toy. The Kong Cat Playground also fits the bill for hyper cats perfectly.

Focus and Intelligence

YouTube is filled with videos of animals (cats included) displaying their impressive intelligence. Off the many breeds of cats in the world, the two that stand out from the crowd are Abyssinian and Birman cats. It is no secret cats can be fitful at times. However, their sudden interest in things and situations or their sudden display of high level intelligence should not be taken as a sign of autism.

If one time your cat seems particularly taken and focused on a specific toy you brought it, it only means that it is its favourite at the time. The same logic applies to everything else in your home.

Contrary to popular belief, not all cats are curious about unfamiliar persons or objects. If a cat seems to focus on just one thing, it is a sure sign that it prefers that particular thing over everything else.

Sensory Abnormality

Most persons with autism are diagnosed with having abnormalities with their sensory system. There are cats that seem to lack focus and appear uncoordinated in their movement. There are some that show a reduced responsiveness. Cats are fast and it is normal that you would think something is wrong when it shows reduced responsive levels.

You might not be expecting this but reduced responsiveness is not a sign of autism in cats. It does however indicate that there is an underlying problem with your cat. The issue could be anything ranging from infected wounds, depression or organ failure. It is a sure sign that your cat needs a medical check-up from a professional vet.

So Can Cats Have Autism?

Given that there aren’t any specific medical tests that can be run to qualify the presence of autism, its diagnosis is mainly based on behaviour. In this regard, yes cats show some behavioural disorders like autistic persons. But this does not necessarily mean your cat is autistic.

Rebecca Welters

Yes, I am that weird cat lady with 200 cats and live in the darkest corner of the city where no one dares to go! Joking! But I am a cat lover and have 2 Ragdoll cats called Toby, he's 3 years old and Dory, she's 8 years old. I'm 36 years old and live in the quiet town of Washington.

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