Can cats be autistic? A cat with autism may come as a big surprise to most pet owners.
However, it's a general knowledge that cats may develop ‘human-like' diseases like asthma, diabetes, and cancer. So, does it mean that cats can develop autism?
To answer this question, we need to understand what autism is and find out who is at risk of this disorder
Of course, we're also going to look if its' possible for a feline to develop this health condition. Moreover, how can we tell if our kitty has autism?
Human body and mind is a complex enigma, and there's no precise explanation in attaining overall well-being.
Genetics, environmental factors, nutrition, physical activity, and mental disposition have a significant impact on human health.
The same is true with animals. One would think that animals don’t have the intellectual capacity to develop neurobehavioral disorders such as autism. However, how true is this?
What is Autism?
Sometimes referred to as ASD (autism spectrum disorder), autism is a mental disorder. That includes impairments in developmental language, social interaction, and communication skills.
Restricted and repetitive behaviors characterize this condition. However, it is not the same as Down syndrome.
Both conditions are mainly caused by genetic predisposition and characterized by similar behavioral symptoms
However, unlike Down syndrome, autism has no physical signs. Also, this makes autism more difficult to discern than Down syndrome.
By mere appearance, a person with autism doesn't seem to have any abnormality. So how can you tell if a person has autism?
Many autistic people have sensory issues that make them over-sensitive to lights, sounds, smells, touch, and other stimuli.
Symptoms of autism may begin to show in early childhood and may persist to interfere with daily living.
This neurobehavioral condition has two core symptoms: social communication difficulties and repetitive behaviors.
People with autism generally have difficulty communicating with other people, verbally and non-verbally.
They mainly do not understand or appropriately use spoken language, facial expressions, eye contact, the tone of voice and gestures. Repetitive behaviors may include:
Many pet owners are quick to assume that their feline pets are autistic because they’re manifesting the same symptoms.
With these behavioral signs are our only basis, a cat with autism is indeed the only explanation for this feline condition. However, is it possible for felines to develop autism?
Can Cats Be Autistic?
A cat with autism may demonstrate anti-social behavior that is mostly seen on autistic people. However, is this uncommon?
Because cats are initially wild desert-dwelling animals, they are not supposed to mingle with people in the first place.
Several domestic kitties are not comfortable with the company of humans. Can we consider them as autistic? Not.
However, it's an entirely different story if a kitty struggles to interact with other cats.
It's only reasonable to worry if you notice your feline pet has trouble communicating with other resident kitties.
Is social communication difficulty enough sign to conclude that a particular cat has autism? Can cats be autistic?
Speaking from a biological viewpoint, there is no way that a feline can develop this mental disorder.
So if you're wondering whether or not a cat with autism is possible? The answer is ‘no.' A cat with autism is next to impossible.
How can we explain the autism-like symptoms in some kitties, then?
How Cats Display Autistic Tendencies
Diagnosis of autism mostly relies on behavioral symptoms. What if a feline also demonstrates the same symptoms?
Here are some of the autistic tendencies in felines that can confirm the possibility of feline autism:
One of the main reasons why autistic patients are struggling to communicate with other people. It is because they cannot adequately express themselves in spoken language.
Autistic people often stay quiet or immediately stay away from a conversation. However, they can be extremely loud at some point.
Some pet owners are getting a bit worried about having a talkative feline pet that persistently meows or purrs.
Felines rarely vocalize at all, but particular feline breeds are naturally talkative like the Oriental Shorthair.
However, if your usually quiet kitty suddenly cries tirelessly. It could be the result of an underlying health issue. Consult your vet immediately if this is the case.
Lack of social interaction
Felines are known to be independent by nature, and they prefer to spend most of their time alone.
However, since domestication, they were able to adapt to the company of people. Domestication gave birth to friendlier and more sociable types of household felines
On the other hand, adult cats that have been adopted from animal shelters are likely to demonstrate anti-social behaviors.
This is because they are not used to the company of people, and this trait is inherent to their species.
Fixation on certain objects
Some cats are extremely curious, and they tend to show intense focus on something that catches their interest. Well, who doesn't?
If your kitty shows intense interest on a specific object or a toy, it only means that it has found a favorite.
They will try to explore things that they would find fascinating, even if it ends up with undesirable results.
Nothing can stop their curiosity also if they get stuck in drawers or paper bags or also getting pricked by cactus needles.
Sensory abnormalities or lack of focus
Lack of focus and uncoordinated moves are not direct indicators of a mental condition.
If your feline pet is showing any of these symptoms, it's highly likely that it is suffering from other types of ailments.
Organ failure, infection, and depression can also result in sensory abnormalities in felines.
Take your pet immediately to the vet if you notice your kitty with these symptoms.
Cat with Autism Symptoms: Other Probable Reasons
Felines may manifest behaviors that are indicators of autism, but the chance of a cat with autism is very much unlikely.
Other factors such as: can cause the symptoms:
Although the cause of autism is still unknown even up to date, clinical studies have started to identify some possible risk factors.
Scientists point out that a faulty gene may tend to make a person develop autism.
Complications associated with delivery and toxic exposure during pregnancy can disrupt brain development before birth.
Other factors such as viruses, chemicals imbalance and lack of oxygen during birth are also taken into consideration.
Both genetic factors abnormalities and environmental factors can be linked to autism.
However, one thing is for sure, chromosome abnormalities that have been implicated in autism can only affect human genes.
If a cat doesn't interact well with other kitties, it doesn't necessarily mean that it has autism.
Alternatively, if a kitty is fixated on a particular object, it doesn't automatically equate to a mental condition.
Felines are unique in their ways and don't expect all of them to be sociable and expressive.
The truth is, some kitties are aloof and would prefer not to socialize with other cats. So there's nothing wrong with that.
One of the reasons why some pet owners are associating their feline pets with autistic is because they expect them to behave like ‘normal’ cats.
Typically, domestic felines are affectionate, friendly and sociable. Feline pets that don't act according to feline norms are considered ‘not normal.' Seriously, this unnecessary notion has to stop.
Regardless of their personalities and behaviors, we should regard it as their unique characteristic and accept them as they are.
How to Handle a Cat with Autism Symptoms
Biologically speaking, felines can never develop autism or even Down syndrome.
If anything, these symptoms are caused by other factors that can either be harmless or serious.
As a pet owner, you need to be aware of the characteristics of your feline pet. If you happen to have an introvert, lazy kitty then so be it.
It’s pointless to transform your kitty into something that it’s not just because it is acting out of the ordinary.
Acceptance is the key, and their uniqueness can be a good thing sometimes.
However, if you notice a sudden change in its usual behavior, it could be a sign of a potential health problem.
You can write out the possibility of autism and try to entertain other likely possibilities that can explain these symptoms.
Consult your veterinarian if you suspect that something is wrong with your feline pet.
Cats Can Help Children with Autism
Autism in children is a severe condition. Unfortunately, there is no known cure to fix faulty genes. However, there are several ways to manage the symptoms.
No matter how they wish to convey their thoughts and feelings. Autistic kids find a hard time expressing themselves because they can’t properly communicate.
Being not able to express your thoughts is frustrating on its own. Moreover, this is one reason why most autistic patients show distress and hostility to other people.
Having a pet that can help them communicate more effectively is a good way to ease their stress away.
Cats, in particular, can make an affectionate companion for autistic patients.
Treatment for autism is still far from reach, but its symptoms can be moderated with the help of our feline friends.
Conclusion: Cat with Autism
A kitty displaying autistic-like symptoms doesn't necessarily mean a cat with autism.
If you're still unconvinced, you can take your pet to the vet to finally discover the cause of your pet's odd behaviors.
We need to understand that animals are just like us. Everyone has a certain level of social skills.
Some are highly sociable while others are not only comfortable around people.
So, there's no reason to worry if your kitty seems to disapprove social contact.
That's just how it is. You have to accept that you have a loner for a pet.
Also, its social skills may improve over time.
Aside from social interaction difficulties. Other signs such as repetitive movements and extreme/lack of interest in specific objects can also be noticed in your pet.
Let's accept the fact that cats have their likes and dislikes. They'll surely show intense focus on the things that they like.
So they'll certainly show lack of interest to the things that they don't like.
Can cats be autistic? No, plain and simple. Felines cannot be diagnosed with autism, and its symptoms may be a demonstration of its uniqueness.