Can cats be autistic?

One of the typical traits of an autistic person is their asocial behavior. This is not necessarily due to people not liking them, but because they cannot understand some nuances of social interaction. Occasionally, felines also appear to have difficulty interacting with people or perhaps other cats. Does that mean they are autistic? The answer is no.

We often tend to anthropomorphize our beloved pets, giving them human qualities. We say that they love us, that they understand us, and that we miss them when we are not at home. Nevertheless, kittens are not people, although it seems that many have this dream.

Cats don’t socialize like us, they don’t see what we see and they certainly don’t perceive the world the same way we do.

If we define autism as a disorder characterized by several nerve impulses that comes in the form of problematic behavior, then cats can show signs of it, even if that doesn’t mean they are autistic.

How cats exhibit autistic tendencies

There are a number of symptoms associated with autism in people, which may also be present in your cat. Symptoms vary based on social interaction, vocal emissions, and extraordinary concentration or intelligence.

Voice emissions

Let’s start with one of the most obvious symptoms of autism, in both cats and people. Lack of normal verbal communication is common in autistic patients, the same is true when they interact only with a specific person.

If your kitten purrs, meows, only when you are around, that doesn’t mean it’s autistic. Some cat breeds, such as the Foreign White, generally communicate a lot, while other cats never open their mouths.

If the behavior appears to stem from stress, see your vet. Conversely, if you have a very quiet cat or a very talkative one, don’t assume that something is wrong.

Lack of social interaction

Many cat breeds are quite independent and often need to be alone. They may have times when they are blatantly unsocial and absolutely disinterested in people or other animals. If your furball’s behavior is unsociable towards people and animals it encounters, that is all part of its general temperament.

The level of exposure to social interaction with humans while growing up also plays a key role. The more your cat interacts as a child, the more likely they are to socialize and be friendly when they grow up.

But unless you notice a drastic change in your kitty’s behavior, for example, it suddenly hides from everyone although it’s usually very sociable, there is nothing to worry about. If in doubt, consult your vet.

Maximum concentration and extraordinary intelligence

Many cat breeds are known for their incredible intelligence. The Burmese and the Abyssinians are two illustrious examples. Pats can also be temperamental, as many know. But don’t misinterpret their sudden interest or intelligence as autism!

If your furball seems to develop a particular focus on a specific toy, for example, it simply means it’s their favorite. The same goes for the other items you have in the house. Not all cats will develop a particular curiosity towards unknown objects and people. If your pet seems interested only in one thing, it only means that it finds it more attractive than another.

Poor concentration or sensory abnormalities

Autistic people are often diagnosed with sensory abnormalities. Some cats appear to be unable to focus, move incoordination, and be responsive.

This type of feline behavior is not caused by autism. Nonetheless, it still represents a sign of something wrong. Depression, infected wounds, failure of internal organs, and other types of diseases usually cause abnormalities in feline behavior. In addition, they are the warning signs that let you know that it is time to take your cat for checks at the vet.

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Cats can behave as if they have the same problems as autistic people. Even so, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have something wrong. Each kitten is one of a kind, so it’s hard to tell what’s normal and what’s not for each individual kitten.

Felines cannot be autistic, at least not in the same way we do. However, if you feel there is something psychologically or physically odd about your furball, you should make an appointment with the vet right away, just to make sure it’s okay.


  • Amanda Wheatley

    Passionate about animals, Amanda draws her expertise from her training as an educator, pet behaviorist as well as her extensive experience with animal owners. A specialist in dog and cat behavior, Amanda continues to learn about our four-legged companions by studying veterinary reference books but also university research sites (UCD, Utrecht, Cambridge, Cornell, etc..) Why Trust ShelterAPet? At ShelterAPet, our collective is composed of writers, veterinarians, and seasoned animal trainers with a deep passion for pets. Our team of esteemed professionals delves into extensive research to deliver trustworthy insights on a broad spectrum of pet-related subjects. We anchor our evaluations on direct customer experiences, meticulous testing, and comprehensive scrutiny. Our commitment is to uphold transparency and integrity for our cherished community of pet aficionados and prospective pet parents.

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