13 Signs That Cats Have Autism



1. They have poorly developed social skills and little interest in playing with other animals.

2. They have great problem solving skills. If they want something, they will find a way to get it.

3. They’re not big on empathy, but they can be very loving towards those who are close to them.

4. They won’t sleep at night if they don’t want to.

5. When they’re not sleeping at night, they’re doing whatever they can to keep you awake.

6. Understanding what they want often involves a combination of guesswork and luck.

7. They can make you laugh when you least expect it.

8. They will lash out and scream bloody murder if you try to cut their nails.

9. They will lash out and scream bloody murder if you try to get them to swallow a pill.

10. If you try to give them a bath, you will often end up with more water on you than they do.

11. They won’t play with the toys you buy them, but they’ll find new and exciting uses for a piece of string.

12. They have a superhuman ability to focus for long periods of time on things that interest them.

13. When they snuggle up to you with absolute love and trust, that is the best feeling in the whole world.

(Photo credit: Kirsten Doyle)


  1. Jacquie says:

    Not looking them in the eye is a signal of acceptance.

    • Kirsten says:

      This is true. In fact, looking them in the eye can be seen as a threat.

    • The way to make comfortable eye contact with a cat is to look them briefly in the eye and then give a really slow, relaxed blink. Prolonged eye contact with any animal signals that you want to keep an eye on them, i.e., you fear them, i.e., you probably mean them harm (from their point of view).

  2. Yip, I have 2 cats and can attest to the truth of every single one of the points you have made! 🙂

  3. This really is too true, isn’t it? Thanks for the perspective

  4. Are those really signs of Autism? You pretty much described Luke to a T.

    • They say that if you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism. They are all different, but a lot of them do share these traits. I based this piece on George.

  5. Treatgirlie says:

    I’m absolutely certain that my son is an autistic cat!

  6. Pamula Furness says:

    Sounds like our cat George. He’s a cinnamon Tom, and at 7 yrs old, he’s still a teenager, (he thinks!), hates to be handled, and attacks you out of the blue for no obvious reason. But, aren’t all cats like that? x

  7. I’m pretty sure this just describes all cats…

    • YES! None of what is described has anything to do with autism in cats. It would be more like: doesn’t look at you, doesn’t want to be held, doesn’t play, is baffled or scared by new experiences or other things, is very persistent and a nag when they want something.

      Cats, in general, DON’T attack for no reason and if not properly repremanded, will continue with bad behavior. If you don’t know how to properly train a cat, you need to hire a professional!

  8. I have and have had many cats in my life. I currently have an autistic cat. I know the points mentioned describe every cat, but one that is truly autistic? No they are truly different. Mine has no inside voice. For the first couple of months we were sure she was deaf! Totally disconnected except for her love for me. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    • Brimstone Halo says:

      Wow, did you really have to go out of your way to do this, I am sure people know the difference…

    • Linda Long says:

      This is exactly what I am experiencing now. My Stella is 6 months old and so beautiful, but her social behavior is like something I have never experienced. The “inner voice” is exactly how I would describe her. I had my Vet check her for deafness…and she has no problem with hearing. She is so very loving, but she has to come to you…and she doesn’t like you to hold her close or be “in her face”…I will love her her way, because she is a wonderful little girl…..!!

    • Ours is deaf, and autistic. He is the best or of the 5 that we have. Patience, routine, along when love has worked wonders for him!

  9. I found this site when I googled “Do cats have autism?” … I searched that because I got to thinking how cats really do love to lay in boxes or other closed in spaces almost like they enjoy the pressure it puts on their bodies. It’s the only way they can make their own version of a pressure vest or a squeeze machine or something of the like. 🙂

  10. What an interesting thread! I’m now convinced that my cat Leo is autistic, which would explain why he’s so different from his twin brother Tigger. Both cats came to me in 2000 as newborn kittens. From the start Tigger was friendly, loving, approachable and playful. Leo, in contrast, was fearful, antisocial, and perverse. Naturally I warmed up to Tigger first because Tigger had all the charm. But as time passed I learned to appreciate Leo too. Leo is fiercely loyal to the few he loves: namely, his brother and me. But no one else. He doesn’t like people and he hisses at any humans who invade his territory. He hates to be touched and actually CRINGES when I try to pat him! He and Tigger were never abused, were always treated lovingly, so this behavior seems very strange. Leo will run to some obscure corner of the house and hide when there’s too much excitement going on. Tigger, in contrast, has always enjoyed new experiences and has faced the world without fear. My two cats: both lovable but so different from each other! I now suspect that Leo must be autistic. He’s 15 years old, still a “scaredy cat,” still resistant to being touched but devoted to me. He greets me loudly every morning and sometimes he will circle me, letting me know how much he cares. I am heartbroken over the loss of my little Tigger, who passed last year from kidney failure. But at least I still have Leo, who’s going strong, and I’m beginning to understand much of Leo’s odd behavior for the first time.

    • Kirsten says:

      Awwww, I am so sorry about the loss of Tigger. I bet Leo misses his buddy a great deal. Thank you so much for sharing the story of your lovely cats.

  11. i have two cats, a brother and a sister. The girl Annie has always been different to any cat I ever owned. She only drinks with her paw, she sets a strict bedtime for herself of 9pm, she talks loudly and constantly, in addition she only loves playing with a piece of string and has not been able to remember to use the stairs to come down stairs. We didn’t think that much of the difference until we tried to introduce another cat into the house. The brother was beginning to accept him but Annie got madder every day and if for some reason her routine was interrupted for him he got mad as hell with all of us. We thought we were adopting a cat with special needs turns out we confirmed we already had one!

  12. I adopted a cat in 2000. It was 6m before he would let me touch him. I adopted another cat 6m later. This cat was entirely domesticated and affectionate. I believe he taught my first cat that I was not an awful creature and truly loved him. Over time my second cat became so jealous of every time I petted my autistic cat I found it necessary to find another good home for my second cat. My autistic cat has not related to another human in his life. However, he is probably my friend.

  13. Gary Briggs says:

    This article should be called 13 signs that your cat is definitely a cat…

  14. My cat does all of these and I love him very much 😊

  15. I am not sure, but we have a cat that: Does not hiss. Never since we first found him he did not hiss. He only meows only when he wants to eat, new sand for the litter box, wants a door open. He doesn’t meow for attention or anything else. He just loves eating food. If we would leave the fridge open there would be nothing left even the vegetables! He does not care what you would do to him he will still have this expression like: O_O(I didn’t know how to say it right XD). I have no idea if there’s something wrong with him or is it just his character. If somebody could tell me does he have a neurological disorder or is it just his character please do. If this changes anything then we actually found them in a park (It’s practically a forest) left to die with his sister. Right now his name is Leeroy (we live in Lithuania and even there it’s kind of a weird name) he’s 6 months old and currently thinks that our 3 year old cat Murka (Try to pronounce that right foreigners ;D) is his mother. So yeah… I’ll be waiting for somebodies response 😀

    • Rarely will an indoor cat hiss and many cats don’t purr. Knowing only what you have written and knowing cats as well as I do, I’d say your cat sounds about normal. What I’m curious about is how long have you had him and what happened to his sister?

  16. A point which really put a cat into something that isn’t autism category, but really close to it would be when the cat, for some reason, found him/herself into a traumatic situation in his/her youth. It’s especially true if it involve his/her original mother (or feeding mother).

    For example, having to remove a baby cat from its mother/feeding mother before his/her 2 first months raise the chance for the cat to develop social unusual behavior as well as stress related issues by quite a number.

    My parent have gotten a female ultra rare breed of the blue eyed Balinese sub-breeds for ultra cheap (100$CAN) as she was a “feeding survivor” (meaning her feeding mother killed every youth cats except for some rare survivors saved by the trainers). Due to that, she had to be fed with low fat cow milk from during her 3rd week as she couldn’t approach and even less feed from any feeding mothers due to her experience. She developed a minor intestinal issue and PTSD. We took her in at 2.5 month and as my mother had time to look out for her, she got used to her scent and with time (1-2 years) to everyone else. Today (5 years later), she’s ultra shy of anything living and unknown. For example, any visitors in the house will make her hide in places unreachable for anyone. She jump whenever a sound is made from a direction she’s not looking at… even something she just looked at and knows about 5 seconds earlier.
    She’s also quite pushing whenever she want something related to food. Even if we push her back, she will do the exact same thing until she reaches the food… or until we raise our voice and sound angry (taking all her attention). Yeah… she “doesn’t think” whenever she want to check something… she move straight toward it in a line without hiding herself. She only look around when she’s about to do something she knows as wrong. It’s actually even more suspicious. Up to now, we haven’t seen her doing anything “wild” like crouching to attack/play or hiding like most cats do.
    A funny thing is that she actually LEARN human things once in a while whenever it’s related to something she like/wants. For example, she can turn on the bath’s water valves… though she still haven’t learned about it having hot or cold valves. We had to put some metal sticks to lock the valves. She knows how to open closed door by turning the door’s knob of the bathroom if unlocked. She loves to watch TV with others and especially likes the news channels. (She’s not just sitting/sleeping next to us, she’s actually sitting straight in front of use (between us and the TV) and look at the TV for quite a long time… but it seems she hates commercials because she move out and come back when they pass. And she also recognize many different nicknames when we call her. (While she got 1 name, we have around 4 nicknames we call her depending on the situation and she seems to react to each of them equally.)

  17. I stumbled upon this after searching if cats could have autism. My cat Turbo is 14 years old. He is super smart and very agile. I got him when he was a baby and since day one he was not like other cats. He absolutely does not like to be handled. I am the only one that can pick him up. Some days (very seldom) he allows me to hold him for 10 seconds and other days he protests, kicks, bites, and screams bloody murder. He never snuggles in my arms, but he is loving in his own way. He does not get close to people and he is very particular about who he lets around him. He does not leave the house even if we leave the door open. If he walks on the porch, it is only for a few minutes to eat the grass, but then he runs back inside. I know I have said this before, but he absolutely HATES being handled. I have taken him to 3 vets (the last 2 being specialized cat hospitals). The first 2 clinics have asked me kindly not to bring him back. The doctor told me he is too smart and you can only try something once on him before he learns to pre-attack any moves. He screams, squirms, kicks, bites, hisses, and scratches anytime a doctor gets close. I am the only one he allows near him especially if he feels threatened by others. It breaks my heart because his last visit they had to put him in an induction box to put him to sleep while they did his check up. Now he has 1 overgrown thumb claw and although it is not hitting his paw yet, it is going to be an issue. We’ve tried so many different ways to trim that 1 Hulk claw with no success. It is almost like he thinks we are going to hurt him and he goes crazy to get away. Then, he holds grudges. He cannot be enticed with food and although he will come back to sleep on my bed, his ears are always perked and watching me. He will stay like that for a few days. I hate to have to sedate him again for one claw. I cried tonight just out of frustration because I love him and I just don’t want that claw to grow into his skin. Can anyone please offer any advice?

    • he’ll have to be sedated to remove the claw; I understand about not wanting to sedate him, but just do it. You’ll feel better knowing he feels better. I cry too, sometimes because of frustration, when it has to do with my animals. My kids ( animals ) can be so naughty sometimes. I call my animals ” the kids “…I also call them ” the rottens “…which they are. I could write a book on my rottens, but I don’t have time, cuz I’m forever trying to fix what they have un-fixed. So, honey, get the claw removed; Turbo will be ok and you’ll be better, too. Really. Turbo is also a rotten…I’d love to meet him.

  18. Bone Er says:

    This is totally can a cat be diagnosed with autism when being anti social and other signs named in this study are in their natural make up anyway..

    • There is absolutely no scientific validity to this article. It was written as a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek post, and I’ve never pretended otherwise.

  19. That was dumb as hell. If you try hard enough, you could probably find several similarities between hitler and mother Theresa.

    • True. It’s not really the same thing, though, is it? One is good, the other is evil. That good/bad dichotomy does not exist in a comparison between cats and people with autism, which is why it’s OK to write a silly humourous post about it.

  20. All of this is what normal cats do, nothing has anything to do with signs of autism? 😐😂

  21. My cat Kacey has 10% autism, but not other animals, expect cats.

  22. I rescued Annabel from a center when she was four months old. I could pick her up, but not hold her unless she was sleeping. I thought she would outgrow that since she had no body tension, but as time goes on (she is 7 months now) it has become worse. I cannot touch her unless she approaches me and she seldom does. Only eats out of her bowl in its place, will not even eat treats elsewhere. Plays fetch, is very smart, but now attacks me viciously at night when I try to sleep. I have been up since three and it is almost 6:30. I am bitten and scratched right through the covers.

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