Can Cats Have ADHD – 12 Symptoms & What You Should Know!

Many cat owners have witnessed their cats acquire the Zoomies, which are characterized as moments when your cat “zooms” about your house as quickly as possible. However, if your cat is having regular Zoomies, you might be wondering if it’s a sign of a more serious problem, such as ADHD. Can cats, on the other hand, suffer from ADHD?

Cats can suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Short attention spans, quick mood swings, impulsive behavior, and long periods of sleep are all signs that your cat may be suffering from ADHD.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has not been specifically recognized in cats. Even so, the symptoms of ADHD can be seen, leading us to conclude that cats can have the disorder. To be diagnosed with ADHD, a patient must display signs of the disorder over a period of months, and no such study has been conducted on cats. However, we may still examine the signs and characteristics of ADHD to see if they match those displayed by your cat.

12 Signs Your Cat May Have ADHD

can cats have adhd

If you know what to look for, ADHD is easy to detect. There are 11 indicators that your cat has ADHD listed below.

Short attention span

When you play with your cat, does she grow bored or distracted easily? Ruby was the ultimate ADHD kitten: she’d play with one toy for a while, then move on to batting that toy around when something else attracted her attention. The “next shiny thing” tends to readily distract those with ADHD.

Your Cat Is Older But Has The Energy Of A Kitten

All kittens are small balls of intense energy, but as they grow and age, their vitality becomes diluted. Most older cats become sedentary and prefer to lie in the sun rather than run around the house. If your senior cat still acts like a kitten, they may be suffering from ADHD. Because hyperactivity does not fade with age, they may still be looking for methods to stay stimulated.

Your Cat Chooses When To Snuggle

If you want to have an affectionate moment together, cats with ADHD usually have to make the decision.

They have a hard time concentrating and relaxing, so if you try to compel them, they will resist you and flee. If you’re relaxed on the couch, they’ll most likely come over and join you for some cuddles.

Rapid Mood Swings

Mood swings are a typical symptom of ADHD in people, which is why we can recognize it as a trait in cats with the disorder. Mood swings strike suddenly and without notice. You’ll be calmly petting your cat and listening to them purr one second, and then they’ll be attacking your hand and growling at you the next. If you suspect your cat has ADHD, be prepared to change your behavior at any time.


The inclination to be impulsive is another trait noticed in people with ADHD. This also explains why your cat is selective about when to snuggle and why mood swings can happen swiftly.

You may notice that your cat jumps from one pastime to the next. Maybe you’re playing with a feather toy with your cat, and they’re completely focused on you, but then they’re abruptly moving toward their food bowl for a snack. If this happens to your cat on a regular basis, they may have ADHD.

Addictive Personality

Addictive personalities are common in people with ADHD, and cats are no exception. Please pay attention to the treats or food that your cat consumes. Do they consume it the same if the flavors or brands are changed?

Is it something people walk away from? Do they seem more enthusiastic about particular flavors than others? They might be developing, or have already established, a taste or brand addiction.

Most of the time, this isn’t a problem as long as the substance they’re hooked to is good for them. Of course, you should still feed them in moderation. If you give in to their obsession, you may end up bulking them up more than you intended.

Sleeping All Day

can cats have adhd

This is one of the more difficult characteristics to spot. Cats are well-known for being lethargic and sleeping a lot as a species. Keep track of your cat’s sleeping habits and routine to see if it’s an indication of ADHD.

If you notice that they are energetic at night and may be keeping you awake due to their activities, they may have ADHD. They need the daytime to catch up on sleep after rushing around all night. They have a harder time sleeping because they have to work themselves to exhaustion before they can relax enough to sleep.

Your Cat Loves The Outdoors

For a cat with ADHD, the outdoors is a terrific place to be because it provides a lot of stimuli. As they witness numerous bugs, small rodents, and birds run around, their primordial instincts are triggered.

Allowing children to spend time outside may be a good method to tire them out so that you and your partner can both sleep well through the night. They are continuously looking for stimuli, and a couple of hours of rushing around the yard chasing stuff is exactly what they are looking for.

Even if you don’t like taking your cat outside, providing them with space near a wide window can provide them with plenty of fun. It’s possible that some cats would enjoy it.

My cat despises being outside and will flee if I even open the door, yet she enjoys lying by my wide windows and chirping at all the birds she sees. Experiment with your space to see if it’s right for your cat.

You See Your Cat Hyperfocusing

It takes a lot of extra work for your cat with ADHD to focus on something. If they appear to be trying hard to focus on the object you are playing with, you may notice this when you play with them.

Maybe they do the same thing with their food when they eat. Because their brains require a lot of extra stimulation, focusing on one thing requires blocking out everything else they are usually paying attention to.

Lacks Self Awareness

Cats are cognitive animals in general, which means they are self-aware. We often make jokes about how cats treat their owners like royalty, yet most cats still know when to back down.

This form of self-awareness is absent in cats with ADHD. Your cat may solicit you for food or a reward on a regular basis. Even after you provide it to them, they may beg for it again, which reflects their addictive personality.

Not Listening

Is your cat behaving in a particularly disobedient manner? Perhaps you feel as though they never listen to you? Although most cats do not learn tricks that demand replies in the same manner that dogs do, they nonetheless respond to their humans in their own unique ways.

My cat doesn’t play catch with me, but she climbs up onto her table to eat when I tell her dinner is ready and tap her bowl. I know she’s not paying attention if she doesn’t jump up when I tap the bowl.

If it seems like your cat is never listening to you, they may have ADHD. They may be too overstimulated to hear you clearly because they are attempting to focus on too many things at once.


Because most cats exhibit curiosity, this quality can be a little more difficult to spot than others. Cats are known for their inquisitive nature. If your cat is constantly interested, it could be an indication that he or she has ADHD.

Most cats will become interested in something, and if it hurts them or smells terrible, they will learn their lesson and cease paying attention to it. However, if your cat isn’t learning their lesson and continues to be intrigued about something, it’s possible that their ADHD is taking over.

Causes of ADHD in Cats

can cats have adhd

ADHD in cats can develop for the same reasons that it does in humans. It can be passed down down the generations, but if you adopted your cat or found one on the side of the road, this can be difficult to determine. Cats, like humans, are affected by environmental factors, which can contribute to mental development difficulties such as ADHD.

Being confined in small places and unable to satisfy their animal, predatory, and adventurous tendencies may cause cats to become anxious. If they don’t spend enough time pursuing and capturing things during playtime, they may become hyper.

Some cat owners are unable to devote enough time to their cats because they work during the day and return home in the evenings. The cats become hyperactive at night when they see company after being alone all day. They may also be looking for attention and will engage in unusually energetic behavior to get it.

Is ADHD in Cats Treatable?

Even in humans, ADHD is not curable; nevertheless, some efforts can be made to decrease symptoms that make the cat feel uneasy.

How to Treat Cats That Have ADHD

Reintroduce fun into your daily routine. Your cat needs to let off steam, and the easiest and most natural way to do so is to let it play during daylight hours. Chasing and catching a ball is a wonderful place to begin.

Even while cats are usually content to stay indoors, it is beneficial to take your cat out to expose it to a different environment. This change in environment may assist the cat in releasing tension.

Having pets is a full-time job in and of itself, and these animals demand special attention. If you are too preoccupied with work to spend time with your cat when you get home, it is best to put the cat away because lack of attention might cause mental distress.

What Not To Do If Your Cat Has ADHD

In rare cases, your cat’s symptoms may become out of hand. You may loathe your cat as a result of its growling, hissing, scratching, and nocturnal activities. However, patience is essential, and you should never engage in the following activities because they will only make things worse.

ADHD medications should not be administered to cats. For a cat, it can be dangerous and even lethal. If cats are given psychological medication, their nerve systems can be substantially tampered with.

Do not chastise your cat for the strange actions it exhibits. This will most likely enhance your cat’s hostility and sever your bond with it.

Don’t put a limit on the cat’s energy bursts. Allow your cat to run and jump for a bit if you notice it doing so. It is preferable if it lets go of its energy rather than storing it.

If your cat’s condition worsens to the point where it’s making you miserable, the best thing you can do is take it to the vet right once to relieve both of you of the stress.

Double Check If Your Cat Actually Has ADHD

Physical difficulties can also lead a cat to become energetic, worried, and stressed. It is not always required for a cat to display these feelings if it has ADHD.

As a result, it’s a good idea to take the cat to the vet to have him checked for any undisclosed diseases or injuries. Hyperthyroidism can cause some cats to have abnormally low energy levels. Thyroid glands regulate cat energy, therefore overactive glands can lead to hyperactive cats. As a result, consulting a veterinarian is a wise idea.

Another cause that could be making your cat hyperactive is fleas. It can be difficult to distinguish between ADHD and fleas. Flea bites and irritation can cause cats to meow excessively and become agitated.

That could also explain why they have petting aggressiveness, which means that if you pat your cat, it may scratch or hiss back. Cats may develop hypersensitive to touch as a result of flea bites and itchiness. As a result, it’s critical to determine whether your cat has ADHD or is simply having difficulties.

Pet ownership is no different than having an extra family member, and these individuals require the same level of care as any other resident.

Cats require a certain level of attention, thus adopting one should be done with caution. They require attention, affection, and care, and if they are not given these things, they may develop obsessive problems or ADHD.

How To Help A Cat With Adhd

Increase your cat’s activities to help them tire out if they have ADHD. Especially if they are hyperactive at night and you are having difficulty sleeping. Schedule some time to play with them before sleep to ensure they are tired.

Mice and feather toys can aid, but battery-operated toys that can move as rapidly as they can can also help. There are even hamster wheels designed specifically for cats to help them burn off some energy.

Also, if you have a cat who may be addicted to their food or treats, make finding the food a game for them. This will help to control the addiction by preventing them from consuming too much at once while also exhausting them.


If you’re concerned about your cat’s excessive energy levels, consult your veterinarian. In most situations, kids will be hyperactive, and they may be diagnosed with ADHD, but they may have underlying health issues that are contributing to their behavior.

Hyperthyroidism can occur in some geriatric cats, resulting in unpredictable energy patterns. Their thyroid is in charge of their energy levels, so if they seem to be more active than usual, it’s important to have this checked out by a specialist.

If your cat is in good health, be sure to keep them well-fed, give them plenty of attention and exercise, and give them the space they need to be themselves.

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