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Can Cats Be Autistic? 7 Reasons Why Your Cat Might Have Autism

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cats autism

If you’ve ever thought, “I think my cat has autism,” you’ve come to the right place.

I have a cat named Dinah, and I think if she were a human she would be autistic.

Here is a list of symptoms of autism in cats. Let’s get started!

1. Cats Expect Routine

The most well-known fact about cats is that they like to get their meals at consistent times and eat in the same place every day.

They are hungry cat alarm clocks every morning. Cats decide what times they would like to be fed, and they will make sure you follow their schedule.

Whatever routine you create for yourself as an autistic person, they will pick up on the change immediately and adapt their own routine to yours, or they will demand you follow the schedule and routine they have set for you.

If they decide bedtime is their cuddle time with you, they will demand you continue to go to bed at the same time every night so they can cuddle with you.

Cats demand for a consistent routine makes them similar to an autistic person. They don’t like it if their routine changes either.

2. Cats Don’t Like Change

Moving to a new house or apartment with a cat is usually a stressful experience for them.

Suddenly there are strange noises outside and new scents. Skittish cats have to find all new hiding spots so they can feel secure while they adapt to the new environment.

As long as cats still have their human with them, they will adapt to the change easier.

Cats’ aversion to routine, but ability to still adapt to change, make them much like an autistic human. We also don’t like change, but we will adapt after long enough.

3. Sudden Noises Give Cats Anxiety

Nothing startles a cat more than a sudden loud noise. Whether it’s people talking outside, a delivery person leaving a package on your doorstep, someone knocking on the door, or you drop something on the floor, they will get spooked.

Immediately, they will run into the other room to escape the strange noise.

We might not be able to run away from a sudden loud noise like a cat, but we are running away on the inside.

Loud sudden noises stress a cat out, much like how a sudden noise shocks our autistic sensory system.

4. Cats are Sensitive to Touch

Everyone knows, if you pet a cat the wrong way, they will bite you!

Cats have strong boundaries with touch. If they don’t want you touching their belly or paws, they will push you away because it over-stimulates them.

Touch is on their terms only, which is much like us autistic people. If we are sensitive to touch, we need it to be on our terms so we don’t get overstimulated.

5. Cats Do the Same Things Every Day

Cats have their favorite places to take naps, and they will take naps in the same spots.

Cats like to take naps, play with toys, and cuddle with their humans.

There isn’t much variation in a cat’s daily routine.

Your cat may only partake in a few activities, like sleeping in the same spots, playing with the same toys, and preferring to eat the same foods every day.

Cats and autistic people are similar in that we like to do the same things every day.

6. They’re not Always Social with New People

Cats don’t always particularly like new people. By nature, they are naturally suspicious of anyone who dares to come into their territory.

Some cats love people and will show affection to everyone. Others will be more cautious.

Cats prefer humans and other animals ignore them until they decide it is okay to interact with the person or animal socially.

Cats like their social interactions to be on their terms and no one else’s.

We autistic people are similar in that aspect. Most of us prefer to be ignored until we want to engage socially, and it’s better for us if the social interaction is on our terms.

Just like with cats, once we’ve determined we’d like to socialize with someone, we will happily greet them and make conversation.

7. Cats are Sensitive to Sound

Cats have much better ears than humans, so they can hear things we can’t. It’s been said the volume cats hear is a lot louder than what a human hears.

When loud noises happen right in their face, they tend to get annoyed very quickly.

Cats may put their paw on your mouth when you talk in their face because they don’t like the volume, or they may get up and walk away instead.

Your cat also might cry loudly, yowl, knock things down, or crash into things making as much noise as they can in the process. It’s okay with a cat if they are the one making the noise, but they think everyone else needs to remain quiet.

Cats, just like autistic people, are highly sensitive to sound and prefer quiet environments.

It’s why most cats available for adoption with rescues and shelters describe the cat’s needs as, “prefers a quiet home.” Likewise, cat.

Conclusion: Autism in Cats – It’s Possible

Cats and autistic people have quite a lot in common. 

Of course, we will never truly know if a cat is autistic since they can’t tell us. However, we can relate to them in a way that’s foreign to neurotypicals.

We autistic folk have a kinship with our feline companions.

What do you think? Do you think cats can be autistic? Let me know in the comments below!

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2 Responses

  1. I think if cats can have autism my cat would definitely be autistic like me. For all the reasons in the article as well as a few other quirks. My cat has stims just like me! He rocks himself back & forth… if you’re not paying close attention you’d never notice because it’s so subtle, but if you look closely he’s rocking himself. He especially does this when he’s stressed. He also streaks his paws against glossy surfaces like windows or the cabinet door and it’s like the cat version of nails on chalkboards, only it’s kinda squeaky because his paw pads are soft against the glass/gloss. Oliver also hyper fixates on things very intensely… then all of a sudden he just stops & acts like the thing doesn’t even exist. Like his toys, we’re constantly having to filter through his favourite toys and games because he will hyper fixate on one game/toy for days or weeks at a time, then one day immediately loses interest. It can be really frustrating trying to figure out what he’s going to obsess over next, I really wish he could talk or at least “fetch” the thing he wants… but he expects us to just know what he wants and if we try the wrong thing he just ignores us (and rock stims while waiting for us to get it right.) He’s also very particular with his food and litter. If we buy the wrong kind bc we couldn’t get his brands at the store that month he gets very angry at us & will mrow & merp at us until we’re able to replace it.

    I really wish there was more available research on cats brains and mental health because this is totally something I’d like to see proven or at least debunked. Regardless, I’m still gonna call Oliver my little autistic fuzzbutt & do my best to accommodate his strange personality & quirks

    1. Sounds like your cat has a lot in common with us autistics. My cat Dinah was the inspiration behind this article. I won her over by communicating through routine. I’ve seen an episode of Jackson Galaxy where he said a cat had psychosis and recommended the vet put the cat on meds for it, and afterwards the cat was very relaxed and normal. Rather interesting. Thank you for sharing your story. Sounds like your cat has a wonderful home with you. 💕

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