Can Cats Have ADHD – 14 Signs You Need To Be Aware Of


Can cats have ADHD? If you have ever wondered about your cat’s strange behavior as a cat owner, that is not strange since we want to get to know our new family members in the best way possible.

Cats can have ADHD; however, it is mainly undetected in felines since the condition is not named in cats.

If you wonder what ADHD is, let us explain a little bit more about this condition. ADHD can be described as a short attention span, rapid mood swings, and periods when the cat sleeps and show impulsive behavior.

As you are asking: can cats have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), we will try to explain in depth how this condition manifests and how you can help your cat if you notice any of those signs.

As we said, there is no official diagnosis of ADHD in cats; however, your cat can behave in a way that will show symptoms of ADHD.

Can Cats Have ADHD?

cat biting owner's finger

We cannot give you an exact answer to this question as we cannot determine if cats have compulsive disorders and anxiety as we do.

Some other mental disorders that cats can suffer from are senility, FHS, which is the term for feline hyperesthesia syndrome, OCD which is an obsessive-compulsive disorder, and trauma which can be the reason for mental illness.

Diagnosing ADHD is a bit challenging since you need to observe your cat for weeks, even months. If you noticed that your cat is showing signs of excessive grooming, aggression, purring constantly, and hyperactivity during that period, then it is clear that something is happening.

So, let’s see cat behavior that can be signs of having ADHD.

1. Hyperactivity

We, cat lovers, know that kittens possess high energy levels. That is not strange since a kitten’s favorite thing to do is to play, sleep and eat, and that is how they spend the first year of their lives.

However, if you have a cat that is older than 2, and she’s still behaving like she was a kitten, and she has a lot of energy, that could be a possible sign of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

And if she’s even older and still shows kitten-like behavior, there is no doubt that your cat has some form of hyperactivity. If you noticed your cat zooming through your house the fastest way possible, you might have seen the behavior that many cat owners call Zoomies.

We know that person who has ADHD has more energy than other people. This can be linked to a cat that is behaving and has the energy of a kitten.

We may not treat ADHD in cats, but ADHD may be essential in their personality, and it is easier to manage in humans.

2. Mood Swings

By comparing some behavior in humans with cats, you can see if your cat may have ADHD. We have news for you if your cat shows signs of rapid mood swings.

You may notice that your cat changes her mood constantly and all of a sudden. Every time it comes out of the blue. For example, the snuggle time is on, but your cat decides that it is over, and she suddenly starts to do something else, but it is often something surprising. Your cat may also start a fight play with you.

Mood swings are not seen just with this disorder, and there are cats that change their mood rapidly, but they don’t have ADHD. However, that is a rare case.

If your cat has ADHD, you’ll notice mood swings every day.

3. Lack Of Self-Awareness

Cats are animals that are known for not quite listening to what their owner has to say, so learning new tricks, responding to new commands, or just behaving in a way you want them to, might be very challenging.

However, if your cat has ADHD, she will not change her mind no matter what you do to convince her. What she intends to do, she’ll do, no matter the circumstances. That can result in her trying to steal your food, jump on the table, or any other misdemeanor.

Cats have an opinion that they are the most important living beings on Earth. They don’t mind interrupting anything you do, as long as they get the satisfaction. They have no problem waking you up at 4 AM to get food. Your cat will probably stare at you while you sleep before they decide to bring you back from your deep sleep. She wants it, right here, right now.

People that have ADHD are often described as those who are overexcited, feel the need to do things immediately, and are unable to distinguish whether the time is appropriate for others.

We mention this because it can be compared to your cat’s behavior in some way.

4. Short Attention Span

If you’ve noticed that your cat has an attention deficit disorder, you can see that your cat is not able to focus on one thing for some time.

A short attention span is definitely a symptom of ADHD; however, the cat might pay massive attention to some specific object while you two are playing.

This is worth mentioning as cats that don’t have ADHD can concentrate well on things, while those that have cannot pay long attention to some items. It is not easy for those cats, so they need to try hard in order to focus on one thing.

5. Curiosity

cat looking up

Cats are animals that are known for being extra curious, and in this way, they often burn their excess energy. You can see your cat trying to explore the environment around them to the greatest extent, and she can also want to mark any item in your home.

However, those cats with ADHD will not stay still, and even though they explore the tiniest bit of the house, they will still try to look into it more and more, and you’ll often see a cat with ADHD lunging in the most unusual places.

RELATED: Why Do Cats Hate Closed Doors?

6. Ability To Hyperfocus

The ability to hyperfocus is a common thing in people that have ADHD. If you see your cat fixated and interested in some item or activity for a long period of time, looking like they blocked the world around them, this may indicate that your cat has this disorder.

7. Not Listening

Well, many cat owners might deal with this issue, a cat not listening to anything you require her to do. In people, this behavior is widespread because they often seem to be not listening to you and focusing on something they’re interested in.

That way cat might be in her own thoughts, not listening and caring about your requests.

8. Food Eating Disorders

Cats are beings of habit. You don’t have to be the cat owner to know that fact. Cats love the routine, and they don’t like to make changes in their schedules.

That’s why cats often get used to a feeding schedule, and a healthy cat without ADHD will have a specific time of the day to eat her food, and that schedule is expected to change when the cat is sick.

However, a cat with ADHD will never have a feeding schedule, and she will always eat at different times.

RELATED: 10 Reasons Why Cats Beg For Food When Their Bowl Is Full

9. Disappearing For A Long Time

If you have a cat with ADHD, you can expect your cat to disappear for a long time. This behavior is expected with male cats that go out to mate, but the period of time when the cat goes away for long periods can be more than two weeks.

However, pay attention; if your cat is spayed or neutered, and she’s still going away and wandering outdoors for an extended period of time, then it is something you need to address since such behavior can be a sign of ADHD including other already mentioned.

10. Alterations In Their Sleeping Patterns

two cute cats sleeping

A cat with ADHD will change sleeping habits many times since their sudden behavior will exhaust her. We know that cats are living beings and sleep, and they often do it for more than 16 hours a day, but that is only when they don’t have anything to do during that time.

Since they don’t have a feeding schedule, cats with hyperactivity and attention disorders will avoid sleeping during feeding time, and they’ll often sleep at times you wouldn’t even think.

11. Sleeping All Day

We mentioned changes in sleeping patterns, but what if your cat constantly sleeps? This can be challenging to distinguish since cats are known to be sleepy animals.

However, there is a way. Watch for your cat sleeping patterns in order to notice if there is a need to worry. If you see that your cat is hyperactive during the night, but when the day comes, she eats, sleeps, and repeats, she may have ADHD.

After they burnt the excess energy during the night, they need some rest, but in order to rest, they need to exhaust themselves.

12. Choosing When To Snuggle

In cats with ADHD, it is noticed that they are the ones that decide when is the time to cuddle. They are the ones responsible for snuggle time.

Cats with ADHD have problems relaxing and focusing, so if you want to make your cat affectionate, they’ll probably disagree and run away from you. But if your cat notices you on the couch, she may come and demand some cuddles.

13. Attached Personality

Cats that have ADHD are likely to have addictive traits just like people do. Make sure to pay attention to the food and treats your cat eats. If you change the brand or flavor of them, watch for their behavior after that.

Does she eat it with the same passion or avoid it? Does she seem to be excited when a specific flavor comes up? All that can indicate that your cat is developing or has developed an addiction to some brand or flavor.

However, this is not dangerous, but you need to make sure that the thing that they are addicted to is healthy. But, you need to pay attention to giving enough of it, not too much, not too less, as you may feed their addiction by giving too much.

RELATED: 9 Best Tasting Cat Foods for Picky Eaters

14. Impulsivity

Impulsivity is a common trait seen in humans that have ADHD. These are the reasons for rapid mood changes and picking the time for a cuddle.

As for this, you can see your cat changing the activities quickly as possible. For example, you and your cat are playing with a ball, and your cat’s focus is just on that one thing, but in a matter of seconds, your cat decides that it is time to get a snack.

If you notice this often happening, your cat probably has ADHD.

What Causes ADHD In Cats?

orange cat sitting on wall

As we discussed the topic “Can cats have ADHD?”, now we want to see why cats develop ADHD. Many reasons are behind ADHD in cats, similar to what causes ADHD in humans.

First and foremost, cats can inherit the disorder through genetics, but it is challenging to determine if you adopted your cat or took a stray out of the street. Everyone can be affected by environmental issues, and so can cats, which can lead to issues in mental health, causing ADHD.

Cats can also develop ADHD if their animal needs aren’t satisfied, meaning their instincts of preying and exploring are not growing in the right way. That’s why they can be hyperactive since they didn’t burn their excess energy during playtime.

If cats are stressed, you may notice inappropriate urination, urine marking, or not using the litterbox.

This is often the case with cat owners that are not often home, working, and do not have enough time for their cats. Because of that, your cat is all alone during the day and feels bored. When you come home, they see the opportunity to play and be active since they’re not alone anymore and have their playmate.

Cats will seek attention by following you to the toilet, basically anywhere. Trying to get you to pay attention to them, they’ll behave more energetically.

How Do You Treat A Cat With ADHD?

Can a cat have ADHD is something you wondered about, but let’s see what you can do about it if you notice signs of it in your dear feline friend.

The first thing that you need to know is that this disorder is not curable. But don’t give up yet; ADHD is treatable. It is treatable in adults and human children, and why wouldn’t it be treatable for your feline?

Before we proceed with advice, let us tell you that if you notice that your quiet cat is starting to behave more actively and suffering weight loss, hair loss, or lack of appetite, that could indicate your cat may have some health problems and you need to take her to the vet.

6 Ways To Help Your Cat With ADHD

cat sitting on wall

1. Plan Structured Playtime

With this, you need to make sure to be consistent with it. If you want to calm down your hyper cat, play more with your cat since the playtime before bedtime is not exhausting her down enough. The more you keep up with this schedule, the more your cat will want to learn it too.

2. Get Feather And Mice Toys

It would be great to consider using this alternative; you can also look up Amazon to find some battery-operated toys since those toys can move very fast. You can also consider getting hamster wheels for cats since they’ll burn their energy that way.

3. Expand Their Activity

If your cat is hyperactive at night, don’t let her sleep all day since she’s getting rest during the day while she sleeps; that’s why you need to stimulate her to be active during the day so she can sleep at night.

4. An Outdoor Experience Is Essential

This is crucial if you have an indoor cat. Make sure that the outdoors is safe and free from predators. Why should your indoor cat be outside, you may wonder. But, let us tell you that the outdoors is full of stimuli for your cat. Their instincts will be intensified, and they’ll be occupied.

5. Game Of Finding Food

If your cat is addicted to treats or some food or you suspect that, a great thing would be if you plan a game that will make them search for food or their desired treat.

This is a win-win situation for both of you, you’re helping your cat with her ADHD, and you tire her out so she can sleep well, and she is getting her favorite snack.

6. Create A Peaceful Home

Your cat needs to feel comfortable in your home. That’s why you need to create a friendly and cozy place for them to relax after their playtime.

With all these things considered, we must say that your cat deserves some time to be hyper. You must be there for your cat since they can’t control ADHD. Allow them to release their hyperactivity from time to time to help them feel better. Along with the pieces of advice we listed above, of course.

Is My Cat Scared Of Me?

If you are wondering if your cat is scared of you, you probably notice changes in your cat’s behavior. We know that our felines are lovable and sociable animals, but there are times when the cat is not very fond of you.

Next time you’re around your cat, watch out for her tail. If the tail is puffed up or lowered, we have bad news for you. That may indicate that your cat is afraid of you or even uncomfortable. You may even hear your cat huff, so she alerts you that she isn’t pleased.

Can Cats Help With ADHD In Humans?

As we were concerned with: “Can cats have ADHD,” let us talk about some brighter news. Did you know that cats can help people that have ADHD? Yes, indeed.

It is observed that cats are great with children with ADHD; however, cats are not the only animals that can help people with ADHD. But our feline companions are those that excel in teaching kids schedules; could you believe that? They do it better than dogs.

Our lovely pets are wonderful when assisting people that have mental health disorders. In what way? They are great companions when required, help build and boost their confidence, reduce anxiety and stress, and help people be more active.

If you have a friend that has ADHD, the next time you visit them, bring your cat so your friend can spend some precious time with a pet of yours.

Final Thoughts

cat sitting on floor and Meowing

Can cats have ADHD? Yet, we discussed many signs indicating that your cat is having problems with it. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not entirely discovered and studied with our lovely pets, but there is some advice that can help your cat with this issue.

If you’ve noticed many other changes in your cat’s behavior, you must take her to a vet check-up to rule out any dangerous issues. And make sure that you take your cat twice a year for precaution.

We need to address that senior cats can develop hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is a condition that causes a cat to have hyper energy patterns. This is due to their thyroid, responsible for their energy levels. We are saying this so you can be aware of that issue if you notice that your cat is active as never before.

You need to be aware of the fact that cats can have some autism traits. This will often require special care.

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Iram Sharma

Fur-tunare enough to have had cats her entire life, Iram has spent years learning about these fluffy little hunters. Today, Iram is a professional veterinarian and a passionate cat mom who uses her skills to help felines in need. Surrounded by her own feline friends, Iram shares her knowledge and experience with all cat lovers.

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