Cats are playful animals that sometimes tend to experience hyperactive emotions and consequently display behaviors to express these emotions such as high speed running and jumping or play-fighting.
This is a natural behavior in some species of cats, while other species are known to remain unsocial and calm, preferring. These energetic spurs are innate in them because they are animals, and if placed in their natural habitats, these spurs help in seeking and catching prey.
It is possible for a cat to have ADHD, but it is almost impossible to have it diagnosed for it. Animals are innately hyper, especially in childhood, like human children. Therefore it is difficult to pin down whether a cat is hyperactive due to ADHD or because of normal routine young cat behavior. ADHD, therefore may be easier to observe in mature cats.
There is no black and white definition to explain clearly if cats can have ADHD because hyperactivity levels vary from cat to cat, and defining a certain limit of hyperactivity as a boundary towards ADHD for cats can get scientifically risky. Another theory says that cats cannot be experimented for attention-deficit because:
- They are animals, and animal minds shift between food, play, and sleep in short spans of time.
- Their attention spans are generally short.
- It is hard to differentiate whether a cat is not paying attention or is simply uninterested.
What Signs Depict ADHD in Cats?
Some signs are normal in cats when they are playing or preying. The best way to know whether these are ADHD symptoms is to seek an abnormal pattern in the routine behavior of your cat. For example, if a cat is sleeping and wakes up to jump off and suddenly attack, or if the owner is enjoying belly time with the cat and instead it hisses or scratches the owner (petting aggression); these can depict possibilities that the cat is experiencing ADHD. Other signs may include:
- Excessive running around the house
- Staring at something for long periods of time. This is also known as hyperfocus.
- Attacking stance with tail and hair standing up
- Chewing and jumping on things they wouldn’t normally chew or jump on, for example, furniture.
- Chasing or hitting fellow pets and humans
- Obsessive licking and constant meowing
- Sleeping through the day and overactivity at night
- Doing things, they can’t focus on one at a time
- Non-routine irritability and mood swings expressed through hissing or clawing
- Inappropriate urination and littering in places other than the litter box because of stress
It is important to note that kittens and cats differ in activity levels. Kittens, like young kids, are more energetic and playful than full-grown cats. Therefore, if a mature cat depicts abnormal behavior from a certain routine of activity, it can be a sign of a hyperactivity disorder. For kittens, it can be more difficult to decipher because, at a young age, it is more likely to consider these spurs of energy as normal behaviors.
Causes of ADHD in Cats
ADHD in cats can develop due to reasons much similar to that for humans. It can be inherited through genetics, but that can be hard to decipher for your cat if you adopted it or got a stray one off the road. Just like human beings, cats are affected by environmental issues, which can lead to problems in mental development like ADHD.
Cats may also get stressed out being confined in small spaces and not being able to meet their animal, predatory and exploratory instincts. They may get hyper if they don’t spend regular time chasing and capturing things during playtime.
Some cat owners who work during the day and come back in the evenings are unable to give enough time to their cats. Staying lonely throughout the day makes the cats hyperactive at night when they see company around. They might also seek attention and therefore act abnormally actively to get it.
Is ADHD in Cats Treatable?
ADHD itself is not curable, even in human beings; however, some steps can be taken to reduce symptoms that make the cat feel uncomfortable.
How to Treat Cats That Have ADHD
- Bring back playtime in the routine. Your cat needs to release energy build-up, and the best and most natural way would be to have it play during dome hours of the day. Chasing and catching a ball can be a good start.
- Even though cats normally aren’t problematic staying indoors, it is good to go out with your cat to give it an environment other than home. This change in space may help the cat release stress.
- Keeping pets is a job of its own, and these animals require their due time. If you are busy with work and are unable to spend time with your cat after coming home as well, it is advisable to give the cat away because lack of attention can disturb it mentally.
What Not To Do If Your Cat Has ADHD
In some situations, your cat might get out of hand with the signs it exhibits. The growling, hissing, scratching, and nocturnal behaviors may also make you start to dislike your cat. However, patience is key, and you should never indulge in the following because they would only make matters worse for you.
- No medicines should be given to cats to treat ADHD. It can be injurious and fatal for a cat. The nervous system of cats can be greatly meddled with if given psychological medication.
- Do not punish your cat for the abnormal behaviors it depicts. This would likely increase aggression in your cat and damage your bond with it as well.
- Do not limit the cat`s energy spurs. If you see your cat running and jumping for a while, let it. It will be better if it releases its energy rather than keeping it in.
If your cat`s condition gets out of hand and makes your miserable, the best way out is to get it to a vet immediately to save both of you from the pressure of the situation.
Double Check If Your Cat Actually Has ADHD
Sometimes a cat can get hyper, anxious, and stressed because of physical problems as well. It is not necessary that a cat always has ADHD to exhibit these emotions.
Hence it is good to take the cat to a vet to examine for diseases or injuries unknown. Some cats may also exhibit abnormal energy levels due to hyperthyroidism. Thyroid glands control energy in cats, and overactive glands can consequently mean overactive cats. Therefore, checking up with a veterinarian is a good option.
Fleas are another factor that might be making your cat hyperactive. Confusing ADHD with fleas can be troublesome. When cats experience flea bites and itching, they may constantly meow and become irritable.
That may also be a reason why they exhibit petting aggression, i.e., when you pat your cat, it may scratch or hiss at you in return. With flea bites and itching, cats may become hypersensitive to touch. Therefore, it is important to check whether your cat actually has ADHD or is just experiencing other difficulties.
Housing pets is no less than having an extra family member, and these members need to be taken care of like every other residing individual at home.
Cats require some amount of attention, and one should make a calculated decision of adopting one before making it. They need time, affection, and care, and might experience compulsive disorders and ADHD if neglected.