Can Cats Be Autistic? Discover 5 Signs Similar to Autism in Cats

March 20, 2024

In the United States, the prevalence of autism among children is a concerning statistic, with 1 in 36 children affected. Parents of children with autism often seek various resources and therapies to support their child’s development. 

These sources may include ABA therapy, which is widely recognized as the best therapy option for children with autism and other developmental disorders. 

While exploring these avenues, some may wonder if similar conditions exist in animals, particularly in beloved pets like cats.

Although cats cannot have autism in the same way humans do, there are intriguing parallels between certain behaviors exhibited by autistic children and those seen in cats. Understanding these similarities can provide insights into both autism in children and feline behavior.

Similar Behaviors Between Cats and Autistic Children

Here are 5 behaviors of cats that are similar symptoms one might see in their autistic child: 

1. Avoiding Eye Contact

Autistic individuals often struggle with making eye contact, and similarly, some cats may appear to avoid direct eye contact with their owners or other animals. This behavior can indicate a preference for solitude or a cautious nature, not an autistic cat. 

2. Repetitive Actions

Repetitive behaviors, such as pacing or excessive grooming, are common traits in autistic individuals. Similarly, this suspected symptom of autism in cats, like chasing tails or pawing at objects, looks an awful lot like ASD. 

3. Not Liking Physical Touch

Some autistic individuals have sensory sensitivities that make them averse to physical touch. Similarly, certain cats may dislike being petted or held, preferring to maintain their personal space.

4. Sensitivity to Stimuli

Children with autism often exhibit heightened sensitivity to sensory stimuli, such as loud noises or bright lights. Similarly, cats may display signs of discomfort or anxiety in response to certain sounds, textures, or environments.

5. Anxiousness/OCD

Autistic individuals may experience anxiety or display obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Similarly, some cats may demonstrate signs of anxiousness or exhibit compulsive behaviors, such as excessive grooming or compulsive scratching.

While displaying these signs does not mean your cat has autism, recognizing these behaviors can help pet owners better understand their feline companions and provide appropriate care and support. Additionally, drawing parallels between symptoms of autism in cats and children with autism underscores the importance of empathy and patience in nurturing positive relationships, whether with pets or loved ones.

Reflecting on Feline Neurodiversity and Autism

While autistic cats do not exist, another pressing question may be “can cats have ADHD?” Some vets do believe the answer is yes! Although not all veterinarians recognize this. 

Who knows, maybe in time we will discover autism in cats too?

While science proves that cats cannot have autism, there are notable similarities in behavior that mirror traits observed in autistic individuals. By recognizing and understanding these parallels, pet owners can deepen their bond with their feline friends and gain valuable insights into the complexities of autism in children!

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