If you own a cat, then most likely you know that cats often develop “human-like” diseases (think of diabetes, cancer, asthma..). While this may be true for many conditions, it’s not true for all. One instance is autism. Can cats be autistic?
We often receive questions from our followers. In response, we try to write an article to share the answer with the whole Fluffy Kitty community. So today we will briefly discuss cats and autism and why it’s unlikely for them to be diagnosed with autism.
Autism: What is it?
Autism (or autism spectrum disorder) is not to be confused with down syndrome, as many people ask if cats can have both.
In brief, autism is a mental condition that may make it difficult for a person to form social relationships or to develop connections with other people.
There is no physical sign of autism, unlike down syndrome.
An autistic person may have difficulty relating to others, picking up on social norms or cues, and interacting with the one’s environment, among other difficulties or challenges.
The causes for autism may be due to an imbalance in chemicals in the brain or a difference in brain structure or shape.
Can Cats Be Autistic ?
Cats may show behaviors that may suggest signs of autism. However, diagnosing a cat to have autism is unlikely. There are many other factors for cats to show traits that mirror those of typical autism.
Just a few examples of the plethora of reasons that may cause a cat to have autistic-like behaviors:
- Poor nutrition
- Infectious diseases
- Physiological abnormalities
- Among others
It is possible that cats may develop a disease that is similar to autism, but it is difficult to test cats for autism.
Oftentimes, a kitten in a litter will show signs of weakness or difficulty functioning. These kittens are called “poor doers” because they lag behind the rest of litter in terms of physical development, social function and activity.
Fading Kitten Syndrome
Hereditary defects, infectious diseases, inadequate nourishment, trauma and hypothermia are a few examples of causes for kittens to develop “fading kitten syndrome” or “failure to thrive.” FKS and poor doers often affect only young kittens between 2-9 weeks of age.
Final Thoughts: Can Cats Be Autistic ?
As mentioned above, there are other reasons for a cat to display autistic-like traits. If your cat is displaying signs of social abnormality or function, then a trip to the vet may be necessary. Your vet will be able to identify the cause for your cat’s behavior.
Do not worry if your cat seems uninterested, or seems to not want social contact. Most of the time the diagnosis will require a simple fix (change in diet, for example).
Also, don’t rule out the possibility that your cat just may lack in social skills. A cat’s personality varies greatly from another feline, and there’s nothing really wrong with that! You may just have a cat who likes to be a loner.
Sometimes our Yoda just needs his space, away from all my cuddles and kisses, and that’s okay. 😉
Thanks for reading and continue to send us your questions!!
Sunday 26th of April 2020
My cat Mouse seems to have trouble understanding other cats body language. I have another cat that does not like to be approached by other cats and will hiss and growl if one does, Mouse does not seem to either care or realize that approaching a cat backed into a corner hissing and growling is a bad idea. She has no ill intent, she just wants to sniff her, she loves to sniff everything. The other cat, Chai is okay with other cats if they don't invade her space. I have to keep Mouse in my room or Chai will get really stressed.
Tuesday 27th of February 2018
So my cat, Colin has some funny habits My other cats are good mousers. Colin prefers eucalyptus leaves. He brings me small branches usually containing fresh leaves and nuts. In the Summer he picks up the dropped under - ripe nectarines that fall from the tree and sets a trail of them from the cat flap through to the bedroom. He must make twenty or so trips out to pick up one, lay it in the trail then goes back for the next. This occurs when we are asleep or when we're out during the day. He doesn't do it with the plums, the apples or the peaches. - just the nectarines. Autism or just a crazy cat??
Brittany, Paul, & Yoda =^^=
Thursday 1st of March 2018
Hey Kat Cat, Wow, great question! What a witty kitty you have there haha :) It's hard to tell, and we aren't professionals in analyzing cat behavior, but it might just be that your cat has a unique character! I had a cat named Max when I was a little girl. At a young age, and before me or my family knew any better, Max was a skilled hunter (so sad). But as he grew older, the less he hunted animals. He would even stare at a mouse on the stairs and not move at all lol! He was still an indoor/outdoor cat at the time, and he used to bring us gigantic leaves that had fallen from trees... He would carry them in his mouth all the way down the driveway from the barn to our front door, where he would meow really loud and wait to show his "gift." I think its just a way of amusing themselves and a way of telling you he likes you enough to bring you all these presents! :) Hahah. Thanks for sharing!
Friday 10th of November 2017
My special lil guy is Fritz. I was milking cows on a dairy farm when our new female cat had three kittens. She had them in the night in one of the calf pens amongst the straw. When i went into the barn the next morning I had found them and discovered that he had a lil bloody nose. I figured he must have been kicked or stepped on or something :( I tried so hard to move the kittens to a better location,(momma Luna was fine with me) she would move them back. He seemed to do fine until the winter hit and it got real cold. Luna decided it was time to ween them at five months old. She was small and young herself. The other male and female were much larger and Fritz was obviously the runt of the litter. I had taken it upon myself to feed him milk replacer as a booster to the small amount of wet food and milk he was getting. I had some says off and went to check on/snuggle them. The other two came out mewing for food, but he looked awfully still in their little nest. Slowly and sadly I reached out to touch him. He cried out to loud it sent my heart into my throat and right there i decided he was coming home. Only for a few days. There was no thought. In the end we, of course, fell in love with our rescue baby. Fritz is now one year and three months old and he is a very odd little guy. He has always had a head twitch. Always when he drinks he starts out licking the water like an ice cream cone, eventually he picks up and laps properly. He's a small cat, but very heavy footed in the front end (thud, thud, thud) and also kind of drags his back toes so that his nails scrape lightly on the ground. He's very sensitive about motion above his head and head scratches sometimes(cringes). I could go on about all the little odd traits that make me certain of his neurological disability. I've always had cats and he's just so different. So janky and slow. I had him vet checked as well and he seemed to think that, otherwise; he was a completely healthy lil cat. No mites for the twitch, nothin. Just extra special <3
Brittany, Paul, and Yoda =^^=
Sunday 19th of November 2017
Hi there, hi Fritz :) Thank you so much for sharing this story with us. That's why we love cats ! Every single one of them has their very own personality that makes them so special. It's wonderful to read about people like you that care about our fluffy friends. Take care and feel free to come back anytime!
Monday 23rd of October 2017
Hi! our little guys shows signs of autism but we're unsure. he is particular about shapes and colors of his food, hates change, and doesn't like things out of place. it's almost more like OCD.
Wednesday 1st of November 2017
Hello Cassie! Thanks for sharing with us. It can be really tough to determine, especially because all cats are so unique that some characteristics just might be attributed to their personality, while others could raise some red flags. In any case, we would recommend to speak to your vet about it if you're unsure. Just remember that diagnosing autism in cats is difficult, and unlikely. If your sweet boy is doing just fine and is living a happy, healthy life then that's what counts most :)
Sunday 20th of August 2017
Well our boy chasing things that are not there. Meaning on top of the cupboards and scratches the ceiling. Will sit and wait for hrs looking at the wall waiting for car lights to go across the walls at night and early in the morning. Has always been standoffish even as a kitten. I can pick him up and he will cuddle me. But normally is not very affectionate. He excels in other areas though. He is a wonderful guard cat and will play with 3-5 yr old children trying to duplicate what they do. Example he loves playing with the puzzle toys. We love him just the same. He does have a older sibling that bullied him so that could be a lot of it.
Wednesday 23rd of August 2017
Hi DJ's Mom, thanks for dropping by! Your boy sounds like a silly kitty! Cats are very intriguing, all of them are unique in their own ways and that's what makes them so special! Yoda can be a bit odd at times, too, but we love him even more for it! He loves being chased and rolling over on the ground for belly rubs (hehe). Thanks so much for sharing your story with us! Always happy to hear from Fluffy Kitty followers. We wish you the best with your sweet boy!