Many people who own cats have asked themselves at one point or another if their feline friend might have autism. Even though diagnosis usually refers to human behavior, there are some pet enthusiasts and experts that see autistic traits in creatures like cats. Usually, the only time a cat would be considered special needs is when they physically or mentally disabled in some way.
What is autism?
Autism is a diverse set of behaviors that can affect a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. This means that people on either end of the autism spectrum may exhibit different behaviors.
People with autism typically have trouble coping when things out of their control change, processing what they see and hear from the world around them, sticking to a routine, and working or socializing in groups. They usually prefer to be alone and tend to fixate on one particular interest or hobby.
Can cats have autism?
Some autistic behaviors in humans are seen in cats, such as:
- Not wanting to be held or touched
- Avoiding eye contact
- Repeating the same actions
Even though it might seem like this is autism in cats, the truth is cats can’t have autism. However, cats can have special needs, either psychologically or physically.
Blindness and deafness are common in cats, and some cats have mobility needs. Some cats have conditions similar to Down-Syndrome. Symptoms include wide-set eyes, poor hearing, poor vision, unusual facial features, and uncommon behavior.
What cat behaviors are similar to those of autism?
When you think about it, cats do exhibit some traits common in people on the spectrum. They get obsessed with catching certain things. They enjoy their alone time. They may get easily overstimulated or spooked by loud noises, bright lights, and even too much affection. Cats also enjoy routine and are highly intelligent.
Cats might also make strange noises that lead some owners to deduce that their pet has autism. This is unlikely because cats make a wide range of noises for different reasons. Moreover, these noises differ between breeds.
Nevertheless, these are typical cat behaviors, and research concludes that cats cannot have autism.
If your cat is acting very strange, or you suspect something is up, a call with the vet or a wellness checkup is always beneficial. Your veterinarian might be able to identify some lurking issues that explain your cat’s behavior.