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Can Cats Be Autistic – Let’s Get Into It

Can Cats Be Autistic – Let’s Get Into It

When you find your perfect feline friend, you want to know everything about them. You just bond with many forms of affection and become true companions, playmates and it seems that we have much in common. 

That is the reason people search for connections with cats that may not be justified. One of those connections is behavioral changes we see in humans and once you get to know them, you start to see it wherever you look. Even if we talk about your cat.  Can cats be autistic? 

Many feline owners wonder if their furry friend can be autistic. And while we can agree that they may exhibit some behaviors that implies that someone is autistic, we cannot actually confirm that cats can be autistic. 

Keep reading to find out more!

Can Cats Have Autism?

cream sphynx cat portrait

Cats can suffer from mental disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder, but there is no evidence that they can suffer from autism spectrum disorder. But when you look at behaviors that cats exhibit, you would say that they’re autistic, but that is just their natural behavior. 

Most mental issues that cats have are connected to physical causes like birth defects, injury or illnesses. But autism is connected to the genetic risk factors as well as environmental risk factors like health issues and complications during pregnancy. 

You need to observe your feline’s behavior and understand it when it comes to interactions with you, other people or other animals. It is not strange that cats can be aloof when there is another strange person approaching, because they can represent a predator or a threat. 

Many cat owners tolerate this behavior because of their cuteness and others usually expect the cat to behave like that.  However, if a person behaves like this toward another human, the behavior will be strange and the other person will expect an apology. 

When we consider all that, autistic behavior in humans has so much more impact and consequences than that similar behavior in cats. 

What Is Autism?

scared domestic tabby cat

Autism is not a simple condition and it is a cluster of different conditions that are connected to troubles with social skills, speech, nonverbal communication, and behaviors that one repeats. That’s why there can be different types of autism and severity and one person can have totally different symptoms. 

That’s why you’ll hear more often the term “autism spectrum” rather than just autism. Because it isn’t a simple disorder and many don’t have severe issues while others need significant care and help. 

Autism spectrum disorder is a disability that develops over time and has an influence on a person’s thinking, learning and problem-solving abilities. Usually, there are no clues on a person’s physical appearance that someone is autistic which makes the diagnosis a bit hard.

It can also be problematic for those that are on the spectrum because others don’t know that they have interaction with the person that has troubles with above mentioned abilities. 

However, we can provide you with a few behaviors of those that are on the spectrum and those that can be found in cats too:

  • Avoiding eye contact and desiring to be alone
  • Not wanting to be touched, held or cuddled
  • Having issues when it comes to relations
  • Not adjusting to new routines
  • Being interested in others but having no ability to communicate or play with them
  • Repeating the same things non stop

What Cat Behaviors Are Similar To Behaviors Of Autistic Spectrum? 

cat walking through the door

As there are many symptoms of autism in humans that your feline friend may show, we prepared some that concerns the vocalization, social interaction, intelligence or magnificent focus. 

Lack Of Social Interaction 

Many cat breeds prefer their alone time, like my cat Luna for example, although I would prefer that she spends more time with me, but okay. 

However, it is perfectly normal if your cat from time to time likes to be alone and be antisocial, but if it is happening constantly, there must be something there besides their temperament.

It is crucial that your kitten spends more time with other people and animals from the start because socialization will play an important role in future behavior. The more your kitten is exposed to interacting with others, the more they’re going to be friendly and sociable when adults. 

However, if you notice that your sociable and friendly cat suddenly starts to hide away and avoid anyone and anything, you might take her to the vet. 

RELATED: Why Does My Cat Run Away From Me


The one noticeable symptom of autistic spectrum disorder in humans are lack of proper verbal communication or excessive vocalization in regards to only one special person. 

But bear in mind that your cat’s purring, chirping and meowing only around you doesn’t mean that it’s autistic. This has to do with some cat breeds that are extremely vocal while others you cannot hear most of the time. 

If the behavior is accompanied by other issues, that might be a sign to visit a vet, but otherwise, if your cat is a loud one, or rather quiet one, there is no need to worry. 

RELATED: Why Doesn’t My Kitten Meow?

Inability To Focus And Noticed Sensory Abnormalities

siamese cat resting on cat tree

Those with autistic spectrum disorder are often seen with sensory abnormalities. Some cats may have troubles with focus,  express diminished responsiveness and have uncoordinated moves. 

But, that doesn’t mean that your cat is autistic. However, that behavior usually indicates that your kitty has some health issues, like organ failure, anxiety and depression, and other possible problems that will lead to deviations in cat’s behavior. 

To be honest, those are some signs that you need to make a trip to the vet. 

Extraordinary Focus And High Intelligence

Many cat breeds have been known to be highly intelligent. For example Abyssinians and Birman cats are first to come to mind when we talk about cat intelligence. But many cat owners interpret that intelligence with autism which is completely false. 

If your furry friend focuses particularly on one toy, it might be that that’s just his favorite one of all. This is applicable also for the things in your household. Many felines won’t be curious about other people and objects they don’t know. 

If your cat is focused only on one thing, it just means that they have found the most interesting thing for them at that moment. 

Repetitive Behaviors

Some that have autism spectrum disorder tend to repeat the behaviors like rocking their body, adhering to rituals and traits, fidgeting with objects and so on. Such people tend to become obsessed with sports statistics or train schedules. 

Some of these behaviors may sound familiar to a cat owner. Some felines tend to be obsessed with sucking on a fabrig, chasing objects or overgrooming. But that doesn’t put them on the autism spectrum. However, the disorder that may affect cats is obsessive-compulsive disorder.

That would explain the repetitive behaviors you see and can be a cause of stress. But, note that obsessive-compulsive disorder is a problem and you need help from a vet to treat it. But once again, it is not autism.

Cats Can Help People With Autism

cat headbutts her owner

Since cats can sense emotions, it is no wonder they can help people and children that are on the autistic spectrum. How do they exactly help?

They help with communication that needs to be more clear and effective and studies have shown that interaction with a pet while waking up lowers the cortisol levels, and that is a first sign of a less stressful day. 

Wrapping It Up

So once again, can cats be autistic? No, but they can help people with autistic spectrum disorder which is quite perfect. 

Even though some feline’s behavior may be similar to behavior of people that are autistic, there is no actual need to worry since that only alludes that your cat is being the cat. 

If your cat’s behavior is not accompanied with some other serious problems, you don’t have to think about it too much. 

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