We always consider brain disorders as only affecting humans because we associate intellect with the human race. However, that is not the case. Animals are equally prone to some of the most common mental instabilities. Domestic animals are psychologically proven to adopt certain spectrum disorders. It can go as far as your petcan cats have autism develop a social disorder, as strange as it sounds.

can cats have autism
can cats have autism

Can My Cat Have Autism?

Autism is a dominant spectrum disorder, whereby species have their social abilities impaired, from malfunctioning in their brain development. Cats are social creatures, as their friendly nature makes it perfect for people like you and me to adopt as a pet.

They become our companions. Hence, they are prone to adopt mental instabilities, displaying strange, hyperactive behavior.

It is, however, neurologically incorrect to claim that cats can be diagnosed with autism.

Do Cats Have A Special Kind Of Autism?

 Every mental capacity differs from one another, be it humans, or animals. Cats may develop spectrum disorders different from autistic human behavior..

If your cat sometimes gets overstimulated, unnaturally scared by loud noises and flashing lights, it’s reflective of your cat’s sensitivity to sudden circumstances, and not necessarily signs of any mental disorder.

Why Do Cats Get Passive-Aggressive?

We are all prone to mood swings, and cats are no different. Anger and restlessness are fair indicators of human-diagnosed autism, that your cat also might show.

If their pupils get dilated, ears flattened, and they frequently have the urge to bite, your cat is going through an overstimulation phase. They are generally followed by the strange hissing noise, called the aggressive cat hissing.

To help with their nervousness about the outside world, you can build a safe outlet indoors at your home. They will eventually ease into their environment.

can cats have autism
can cats have autism

Can Cats Develop SPD Without Autism?

 SPD- Sensory Processing Disorder is the malfunction of sensory organs, rendering poor perception of the outside environment.

Cats, the most effective furry predators we know, are deft in their hearing and are quick to respond in fight-or-flight situations. Over time, they may develop sensory issues with age, as their perception weakens.

Their behavior may be subject to change, but not bordering on autistic. Instead, the primary reasons for cats to develop sensory issues are quite common:

  • Genetics
  • Old Age
  • Injury
  • A sudden tumor or unwanted growth in the sensory organ
  • Unchecked infections

How Do I Know If My Cat Has SPD?

Cats have different sense organs that make them acute predators. With that, comes various organs that may falter.

If you suspect your cat facing trouble in her daily activities, we can help you look for the following signs and recognize them accordingly


  • Your cat doesn’t respond to a sudden loud noise, or misses out on you approaching her.
  • Test her abilities by making a muffled hiss sound, a universal danger-call for cats. Check if she remains unresponsive.


  • Your cat becomes suddenly extra- cautious to her surroundings.
  • She gets spooked by your sudden embrace, and does not identify objects or heights
  • You’ll notice a clouded, discolored film over your cat’s eyes starting to develop. Their pupils would stop contracting to light.

Is There A Spectrum For Cats?

A behavioral spectrum is inherent in all species to identify the level of normalcy in behavior. Mental Abnormalities in cats are often detected through the Feline Spectrum Assessment (FSA).

It’s not as scary as it sounds, and simply observes how friendly or reserved a cat may be. They are mainly used in adoption centers, where unknown cats, with abandoned histories, are observed to know them better.

 To determine where a cat ranges in its behavioral spectrum, the four-component procedure of the FSA test includes normal behavioral acts, such as

1) Greet – How friendly a cat is on its first encounter with humans

2) Hand on the cage a cracking the cage door -How a cat responds to being let go, and be independent.

3) Interactive toy  –How a cat interacts with species other than their own breeds

4) Touch with a wand  -How a cat responds to human touch and affection

do cats have mood swings
can cats have autism

How Do I Know If My Cat Has A Serious Mental Illness?

So far, you have learned that impairments in sensory organs or changes in the outside environment can affect a cat’s behavior, a fairly common phenomenon in their psychological needs.

However, developing serious mental issues can also be a risk to our feline friends. They are intelligent, and emotional beings, just like us!

So, your cat can develop emotional disorders like clinical depression and anxiety.

Your cat’s sudden loss of appetite or unwillingness to play with you anymore may turn serious if left unchecked.

They eventually develop Compulsive Disorder stemming from prolonged depression, boredom, frustration, and other negative feelings. Look out for these behavioral patterns in your cart if you suspect something

  • Repetitive vocalization without any apparent reason
  • Constantly sucking on objects, such as toys or blankets
  • Chewing on their own paws, tail, or other body parts
  • Pacing back and forth or in circles
  • Chasing their tails
  • Grooming excessively
  • pouncing on imaginary prey

This kind of behavior may result in self-inflicted harm. So, it’s best to consult your veterinarian when you notice these behaviors in your pet.

Can Cats Be Schizophrenic?

Schizophrenia in itself is a hard mental disorder to live with. In cats, Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS) shows erratic symptoms that are similar to schizophrenic behavior.

It’s quite controversial, mostly found in Oriental cat breeds. FHS is diagnosed when cats suddenly twitch their skin excessively (  “rolling skin disease”), over-grooming themselves to the point of hurting their skin, and, having pupils constantly dilated due to this bizarre fold of actions.

Cats are quite subtle and passive in their expression even while suffering from serious mental disorders like FHS. Symptoms could very well be mistaken for normal feline behavior too. Generally, in animals the Toxoplasma gondii gets infected, resulting in abnormal behavior.

Additionally, it affects her neurotransmitter function. The mentioned signs can help you detect your cat’s troubled mind, but it is best recommended to get her checked with professional help.

Can Cats Develop Autism After Taking The Vaccine?

There’s an inherent fear of vaccination side-effects among the general populace, arising from misconceptions. It is important to know during this pandemic, that the scientific efficacy of vaccines surpass any rumored side-effects, like autism, and other mental disorders.

This goes for humans and animals alike, and therefore, your cat cannot develop autism from a vaccine shot.

It is therefore our responsibility to consider the significance of vaccines, as primary anecdotes against the spreading of the Coronavirus These false narratives should not bar someone from getting their pets all the required vaccinations, within a year of their birth.

Do the needful, and provide your pet with the protection of a vaccine now.

can cats have autism?

Other Mental Disorders Affecting My Cat

Dominant mental disorders, like autism, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia may cause other mental instabilities that your cat can be diagnosed with. Some common risky instabilities are:  

  • Abnormal repetitive behaviors – Cats can feel unsatisfied by their immediate environment resulting in constant repetition of correcting something only they can see.
  • A cat facing conflict can be observed as repetition one specific activity due to extreme circumstances they face, activating their immediate survival functions.
  • For example, if they catch sight of a piece of food by being deliberately offered by a human, their lust for hunger may be in conflict with their fear of being attacked by the human.
  • As a result, they go back and forth, unsure how to move forward.
  • Displacement activity in cats is the unnecessary behavior that cats exhibit, for no apparent reason. A cat in conflict, or in a compulsive phase may perform uncalled activities, like sleeping or self-grooming for prolonged hours, and even days.  
  • Goal Frustration, a familiar feeling among humans, can develop as a serious ailment in cats, when they are continuously faced with unforeseen physical or psychological obstacles.
  • Your cat may not be happy with being indoors all the time, and a fresh walk outdoors can relieve some of the frustration, before it turns too intense, and she starts to attack in self-defense.
  • Phobias are the dominant effect of prolonged exposure to fear, for cats. It is specific to a certain element, owing to their past traumatic experiences. Their memory is exquisite, so they remember what triggered or attacked them quite well.
  • Their behavior is abnormal, followed by intense anxiety and panic overtime. It can be improved by practicing Redirected behavior, a coping mechanism that helps cats change their fear towards what generates it in the first place.
  • Vacuum activity in cats occurs when all energy for living gets literally sucked out of your pet. It’s a primary result of extreme boredom, and cats fail to perform activities they generally desire, like cuddling, playing with a ball of wood, or even eating.

How Can I Take Care Of My Cat With Special Needs?

First of all, if you suspect something out of the ordinary in your cat’s behavior, the best option is to consult a veterinarian. Professional help is recommended so your cat gets immediate attention to her sudden abnormal behavior.

However, if it borders on minor changes and looks like something you can control, then we have some self-diagnostic techniques to help calm your cat down and make her feel more comfortable.

  • Routine Activity – Cats are highly intelligent, and prefer an organized way of living. So, allow them some space for themselves, cuddle with them on their own time.
  • A specific playtime can also help with their focus, something they may look forward to with you.
  • Playtime with cats – Just because they love routines doesn’t mean you can’t go crazy and play with them! Be loving and give them toys to scramble with.
  • They love to figure out things, 5and balls of wool, or a chasing thread hypes them up in a playing mood the most.
  • Cuddling and embracing your cat – If you own a cat, it’s no surprise how much our feline buddies cherish a good cuddle.
  • They want to be loved and embraced when they feel like it, so do give them the attention they need, but do not force it upon them.
  • Increase their meals – Sometimes, hunger can be a dangerous cause for bizarre behavioral patterns. Feed them adequately, so their appetite doesn’t get reduced overtime, leaving them with low energy.
  • Songs to ease their minds – A soothing song is the bliss we all feel at the end of a long day.
  • Animals too react positively to calming music, thereby relieving their frustration. Here are some songs you can play for your cat, and listen together!

Are Cats Good Pets For Autism?

We talked about cats suffering from mental disorders, but what about their owners? Reports suggest that children with autism prefer to have cats as their sole companions.

Their subtle approaches and relaxed demeanor sit well with the hyperactive nature of autistic children.

While humans with stunted social growth find it difficult in normal human interaction, they may find that comfort in their own feline buddies, who’re endearing but respectful.

READ MORE: Can Cats Eat Shrimps?


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