Can Cats Have ADHD – Uncovering the Mystery!


A lot of cat owners have witnessed their cats going crazy and running around the house at high speeds, which is commonly known as the Zoomies. But if your cat has these episodes frequently, you might be concerned if it’s a sign of a bigger problem like ADHD. So, is it possible for cats to have ADHD?

Cats can experience ADHD. If your cat has a short attention span, rapid mood swings, impulsive behavior, or long periods of sleep, it could be a sign that they have ADHD.

Although cats have not been officially diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), they can exhibit traits that resemble ADHD symptoms. While there hasn’t been a specific study on cats to diagnose ADHD, we can still observe their behavior and compare it to the symptoms and traits of ADHD to determine if they are similar.

11 Signs Your Cat Has Adhd

If you know what to look for, it’s easy to spot ADHD in cats. Here are 11 signs that your cat might have ADHD.

1. Your Cat Is Older But Has The Energy Of A Kitten

When kittens grow and age, their high energy levels usually decrease. Senior cats, on the other hand, tend to become lazy and enjoy lounging in the sun rather than being active. However, if you have a senior cat that still exhibits kitten-like behavior, they could potentially have ADHD. Unlike energy levels, hyperactivity doesn’t diminish with age, so they may continue seeking stimulation.

2. Your Cat Chooses When To Snuggle

Typically, cats with ADHD are the ones who decide whether you’ll have a loving moment together.

Cats struggle with concentration and relaxation, so if you attempt to coerce them, they will probably resist and flee. However, if you are lounging on the sofa, they will likely approach and join you for some affectionate moments.

3. Rapid Mood Swings

Just like humans with ADHD, cats with ADHD also experience mood swings. These mood swings can occur suddenly and without any warning. For example, you may be peacefully petting your cat and enjoying their purring, but then they might suddenly attack your hand and growl at you. If you suspect that your cat has ADHD, be prepared to adjust to their changing emotions at any given moment.

4. Impulsivity 

Just like humans with ADHD, cats can also be impulsive. This explains why they may have sudden mood swings or be selective about when they want to snuggle.

If you see your cat easily switching between different activities, like playing with a feather toy and then suddenly going to their food bowl, it could be a sign that they have ADHD.

5. Addictive Personality

Cats with ADHD may also have a tendency to be more prone to addiction, just like humans with ADHD. It’s important to be mindful of the treats and food your cat consumes. If you try different flavors or brands, observe if they still eat it with the same enthusiasm.

Do cats ignore it? Do they appear more enthusiastic about eating specific flavors? They might be forming, or have already formed, a dependency on a particular flavor or brand.

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In general, this is not a problem as long as what they are addicted to is good for them. However, be careful not to overfeed them. Giving in to their addiction could cause them to gain more weight than you want.

6. Sleeping All Day

Identifying this trait can be quite challenging. Cats are generally known for being lazy and sleeping a lot. Pay attention to your cat’s sleeping patterns and routine to determine if it could be a symptom of ADHD.

If you notice that your cats are super active at night and it’s causing you sleepless nights, they might have ADHD. After being all over the place during the night, they need the day to catch up on sleep. It’s harder for them to relax and rest because they have to tire themselves out first.

7. Your Cat Loves The Outdoors

Cats with ADHD find the outdoors to be an exciting environment full of things to observe, such as bugs, small rodents, and birds, which triggers their natural instincts.

Allowing cats to spend time outdoors can be an effective method to help them expend energy, ensuring a restful night’s sleep for both of you. Engaging in a few hours of play and exploration in the yard satisfies their natural desire for stimulation.

Even if you’re not into taking your cat outdoors, providing them with a spot near a big window can still be a fun way for them to stay entertained. Some cats might even enjoy it more.

Even though my cat despises going outside and will rush back in if I simply open the door, she thoroughly enjoys lounging by my spacious windows and making chittering sounds at the birds she spots. Ensure that your living area is suitable for your cat by customizing it to their liking.

8. You See Your Cat Hyperfocusing

If your cat has ADHD, it requires additional effort for them to concentrate on something. You might observe this when you play with them and notice that they are putting in a lot of effort to focus on the toy you are playing with.

Or perhaps cats also exhibit this behavior when they eat. Since their brains require additional stimulation, attempting to concentrate on one thing entails disregarding all the usual things they are attentive to.

9. Lacks Self Awareness

Cats, in general, are very smart, which means they are quite self-aware. We all make fun of how cats behave like kings and queens in their homes, but most cats still understand when to step back.

Cats who have ADHD lack self-awareness in this way. You might notice your cat constantly asking you for food or treats. Even after you give them what they want, they may continue to beg for more, which shows their addictive tendencies.

10. Not Listening 

Is your cat behaving rebelliously? Does it seem like they never pay attention to you? Although cats don’t learn tricks like dogs do, they still have their own ways of responding to their owners.

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Even though my cat doesn’t play fetch with me, whenever I tap her bowl and let her know that dinner is served, she immediately jumps onto her table to start eating. If she doesn’t respond to the bowl tap, then I understand that she isn’t paying attention to me.

If your cat seems like it never pays attention to you, it could be a sign that it has ADHD. It might be too overwhelmed and trying to concentrate on multiple things at the same time, making it difficult for it to hear you clearly.

11. Curiosity

Identifying this characteristic can be a bit difficult compared to others since most cats are naturally curious. Cats are famous for their curiosity. If you notice your cat being excessively curious, it could be a sign of ADHD.

Many cats naturally become interested in things, and if those things cause them pain or have a bad smell, they usually learn to avoid them. However, if you notice that your cat keeps going back to investigate something despite negative experiences, it could be a sign of ADHD.

Can A Cat Be Special Needs

Cats can have unique needs, which can differ from one cat to another and encompass a range of aspects. As cats age, some may be considered special needs cats due to the extra attention and care they require.

Maybe they have a serious disease, so the attention they require is to ensure their comfort until their end.

Alternatively, they might have acquired a non-life-threatening condition that still needs ongoing care. For instance, cats with kidney disease often receive fluids through an IV to ensure they stay properly hydrated.

Cats can also be born with abnormalities that classify them as special needs. Some cats are born with only three legs or one eye, requiring specialized care to function. Deformities can also occur during their lifetime due to injury or illness.

ADHD can also be a factor that classifies a cat as having special needs, along with other mental disorders.

Cats can exhibit characteristics of autism that necessitate specialized attention, or they may experience a condition such as Cerebral Hypoplasia that affects their mobility and requires assistance. There are numerous syndromes that cats can be born with or develop, classifying them as having special needs.

At What Age Do Cats Calm Down

Every cat is unique! There isn’t a specific age when cats become more relaxed. Some cats continue to exhibit hyper behaviors from their youth into adulthood. This is especially true for cats with ADHD or other health issues that impact their energy levels, as they may never settle down.

Cats usually develop bonds with people, other pets, and objects, which can help them relax. If you take away their favorite blanket that they sleep on, you might notice that your cat becomes more energetic at night.

The reason why cats become hyperactive is usually because you took away something that made them feel safe and now they don’t know where to find comfort. Cats will become more calm when they feel comfortable with you and their surroundings, so it’s important to create a cozy environment for them to relax in.

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How To Help A Cat With Adhd

If your cat has ADHD, you can help them by making sure they get plenty of exercise. This is especially important if they are hyperactive at night and it’s affecting your sleep. Set aside some time before bed to play with them and make sure they’re really tired out.

Playing with mice and feather toys can assist with this, but you can also consider using battery-powered toys that can move at a similar speed. Additionally, there are even specialized hamster wheels designed for cats to help them release their energy through running.

If you have a cat that seems to be obsessed with their food or treats, you can make a game out of it by hiding the food and letting them find it. This will help reduce their addiction and prevent them from overeating in one go, while also giving them some exercise.

How Do You Calm Down A Hyper Cat

If you want to calm down a hyper cat, make sure to spend some time playing with them in a structured way. If playing with them before bed doesn’t tire them out, try scheduling more playtime throughout the day. Being consistent with this will help them understand your schedule better.

It’s important to make sure your cats have a peaceful home where they can feel at ease. After they finish playing, they should have a designated area where they can unwind.

Additionally, you can provide safe outdoor experiences for your cat. You can choose between using a playpen or a harness to give them the outdoor stimulation they require, while still ensuring they don’t roam freely.

The key thing is to let cats be hyper. It’s not their fault if they’re hyper, and if they have ADHD, there’s only so much you can do to control their hyperactivity. Let them have their hyper moments and do what you can to assist them.

Things To Consider

If you’re worried about your cat being super hyper, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet. Usually, cats are full of energy and might seem like they have ADHD, but there could be other health issues causing their behavior.

Some older cats may experience hyperthyroidism, which can lead to irregular energy levels. The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in regulating energy, so it’s important to have a vet examine them if their energy levels seem unusually high.

If your cat is healthy, make sure to feed them well, give them plenty of attention and exercise, and give them the freedom to be comfortable with who they are.

You can also check this YouTube video about this topic:

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