Can Cats Have Autism?
Cats are one of the most loved animals in the world. Alongside dogs, these furry friends have been kept as pets for thousands of years, with the Ancient Egyptians worshiping them as Gods (some of us still do that!)
Cats and humans have a lot in common. We both love affection and companionship, and a quick (or long) cuddle with your cat can ease stress in both you and them.
Because we spend so much time with cats, it is easy to look for human characteristics in them and human-like connections. And, whilst cats seem to have the same kind of moods as us, such as being content, happy, and, of course, moody, it’s important to remember that they are unique animals.
The behavior of cats can be linked to humans, but sometimes this behavior can seem a little different to other cats.
Many pet owners have wondered if their cats have autism, due to how they act. Of course, the autism spectrum is wide and varied, but the behaviors found on this spectrum can often be exhibited by cats.
But, can cats actually have autism? Research into autism has mainly been centered around human behavior but experts and cat owners have noticed similarities between cats and people with autism.
Read on as we discover whether cats have autism and the behavior that is attributed to this developmental disability.
Autism: What is it?
Autism represents a wide range of different conditions, caused by variations in the brain. Most of the time, these conditions are signified by issues involving someone’s social skills, nonverbal communication, speech, and behaviors that are repetitive.
The autism spectrum is wide and there can be a significant difference in the severity and type of issues experienced. One person’s autistic symptoms may be hugely different from someone else, however.
The clinical term for autism is “autism spectrum disorder” but many experts prefer to call it “autism spectrum.” This is because some people with autism only experience very slight issues, whereas others require extensive care for their entire lives.
Because it is a developmental disability, autism tends to affect a person’s thinking, problem-solving abilities, and ability to learn. As for physical appearance, there are rarely any physical characteristics that show someone is autistic. This is why it has been so difficult to diagnose autism throughout the past, and even today.
Because it is challenging to diagnose people with autism, it can cause issues for those who are not diagnosed with it early in life. They may not know why they think or behave differently from others and because there are no physical clues to the condition, others do not know the person has autism.
There is a wide range of behaviors that can be present in someone on the spectrum. Some of these can be found in cats. The main behaviors include:
Can Cats Have Autism?
Generally speaking, cats can not have autism. Nevertheless, they can be diagnosed with certain conditions and can have special needs.
Special needs in cats usually stem from physical disabilities or physical issues attributed to old age. For example, a cat who is missing a leg is classified as one with special needs.
Other examples of special needs in cats include:
As well as physical impairments, some cats with special needs have mental impairments. Whilst most of these conditions are from birth defects, some occur after an accident or a serious illness.
You may also be wondering if cats can have down syndrome. Well, some have been found with symptoms of this condition, such as wide-set eyes, unusual facial features, behavior that is not common in others, and issues with vision and hearing.
If you believe your cat has any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should visit the veterinarian to find a cause. Therefore, you can start to care for your furry friend properly going forward.
Cat Behaviors That are Similar To Autism
Many cat owners have noticed autistic-like behaviors in their pets. Maybe you have seen your cat getting obsessed with catching certain items or animals. Or, your cat likes to spend most of its time alone (although this is quite normal for most cats).
Maybe your fur ball gets spooked easily by bright lights and noises or is easily overstimulated. Try to show affection and they get spooked by this as well?
Cats tend to like having a routine and are generally an intelligent species. Therefore, changing their routine can have an effect on their behavior and is not necessarily a sign of a deeper issue.
Cats may also make unusual sounds from time to time. Therefore, many cat owners start to think their feline may have autism. However, cats tend to make different sounds for a variety of reasons and these can differ from one breed to another.
All of these are similar behaviors to those who are on the autistic spectrum, but are also typical behaviors found in cats. Therefore, it is hard to conclude that cats can have autism.
Nonetheless, if you have noticed that your cat is acting differently or very strangely, you should call your vet for a wellness check.
This can often put your mind at ease but, if issues are present, your veterinarian can identify them and help you in caring for your special needs cat in the future.
A cat’s typical behavior can easily be attributed to autism. Although further research is required, experts do not believe cats can have autism but, if they are acting differently, you should get them checked out by your vet for clarification on any possible issues.
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