Can cats be autistic?

We now know that cats can also be victims of mental and emotional disorders identical to those of humans, such as depression. So why wouldn’t autism be one of them!

What is autism?

Autism is a developmental disorder of the central nervous system that usually appears in early childhood. This disorder mainly results in difficulties in bonding with others and communicating. But these are not the only symptoms to observe. People with autism are recognized by:

  • their preference to be left alone
  • their habit of never looking others in the eye
  • their total lack of creative or imaginative thinking (they cannot pretend to play dinette, for example)
  • their repetitive movements
  • their obsessive fixation on specific objects
  • their resistance to cuddles
  • their overreliance on routines or rituals
  • their temper tantrums

Some cats may well exhibit one or more of the symptoms outlined above. But are they autistic?

All Cats Have Asperger’s Autism

Asperger’s syndrome is the form of autism that is most often transferred to cats. Indeed, people with Asperger’s syndrome have all the characteristics listed above but without the intellectual disability that can sometimes be observed in typically autistic people. Moreover, it is interesting to note that, contrary to popular belief, people with Asperger’s syndrome are not necessarily smarter!

Thus, cats can be very demanding in terms of life routine, have an aversion to eye contact, become attached to unusual objects and be particularly independent. But, contrary to what one might think, all of these behaviors are normal for our feline friends. For example, if cats don’t like eye contact, it’s because looking someone in the eye is perceived as a threat in cat language. Also, disliking interactions is a matter of temperament.

As you will have understood, even if certain characteristics or bizarre reactions of your feline make you think of the symptoms of autism, it is not so. It is simply not possible for your cat to have autism. On the other hand, if you observe a sudden change in behavior in the latter (it now refuses hugs, meows constantly…), this may indicate that something is wrong. In this case, a visit to the vet is in order.

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