When you look up the definition of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,) some of the signs of the condition bear a remarkable resemblance to some of the words we use to describe our cats. While there is no such thing as an official diagnosis for cats, if your cat shows any of the symptoms described below, she may just have a touch of ADHD.

1. Short attention span

Does your cat get easily bored or distracted when you play with her? Ruby was the original ADHD kitten: she would play with one toy, then something else caught her attention, and she’d move on to batting that toy around. Humans with ADHD tend to be easily distracted by the “next shiny thing.”

2. Ability to hyperfocus

Have you ever watched a cat watch a mouse? That is practically the definition of hyperfocus, a common trait of people with ADHD.

3. Lack of self-awareness

Cats think the world revolves around them. They think it’s okay to interrupt whatever you’re doing by lying on top of your keyboard or your papers. They see no reason not to wake you at 5am so you can feed them breakfast right NOW! People with ADHD can get carried away with excitement over something they feel needs to be done right here, right now, and they can’t filter out that now may not be the optimal time for others.

4. Not listening

When was the last time your cat actually listened to something you wanted her to do? People with ADHD are often accused of not listening, although sometimes, that may just be because they’re busy with something else, and they know that if they’re interrupted, they’ll never come back to what they were originally doing.

5. Mood swings

If you’ve ever had a cat with petting aggression, who goes from seemingly enjoying being petted to lashing out at you, you know how quickly a cat’s mood can change. Mood swings are common for people with ADHD.

6. Curiosity

Cats are curious by nature. So are people with ADHD. They are often charming, gregarious and interested in what is going on around them. Highly social cats exhibit the same traits.

7. Hyperactivity

Is your cat a senior, but still races around the house like a kitten? If you pay attention to people with ADHD, you’ll often notice that they seem to have more energy than the average person. Peter Shankman, who has spent the past twenty years starting, building, and selling companies, as well as writing best-selling books, and teaching hundreds of thousands of people how to improve their personal and professional lives, created a website titled Faster Than Normal, which focuses on unlocking the gifts of the ADHD brain.

While ADHD in cats may not be treatable, and may, in fact, be an integral part of the feline personality, it is highly manageable in humans, especially when viewed as a gift rather than an affliction.

Do you think your cat has ADHD?

21 Comments on 7 Signs Your Cat May Have ADHD

  1. What do you recommend? My rescue cat dominates all play sessions with his siblings, he walks around the house at midnight crying, and had a bad reaction to anesthia when he was neutered.

  2. I’m worried for my cat he is 6 years old and I have recently started to see a change in behaviour he has started to be very energetic and more vocal I have done some research and I don’t know if it could be an underlying health condition could I have some advice please

    • Please contact your vet. What you’re describing could be hyperthyroidism, especially if you’re also seeing increased appetite and/or weight loss.

  3. My kitten, Merlin, is 6 months old, and he plays with everything till midnight. I also have another cat, Megan, who is 7 years old. Merlin is an “only kitten” and plays with Megan, but she hisses and fights him. We can’t get another cat. So, what should we do? Thanks! <3

  4. Hi My kitten Meeka, is 7 months old and I’ve had her since she was 4 months old. She is a rescue from the Humane Society. She is buff and white with extremely soft fur and a long bushy tail. Some people think she has Persian in her. Meeka runs around at 90 miles an hour knocking stuff over repeatedly as she leaps from place to place or leaps up on an end table for instance. She purposely bats stuff off of tables or the arm of the couch, or knocks over a pile, even though I put her down, give her one or many toys, etc. I cannot kitten proof my whole house! And if I run water in the bathroom sink, that cues her to drop everything, come out of nowhere, and pull down the hand towel before climbing up on the toilet to get to the sink. She also attacks my arms, hands feet, and other body parts even though she will lay in my arms purring for a long time. She also sometimes runs from behind and leaps on my back with her sharp claws and attempts to claw her way up. I am Diabetic and the scratch and bite marks are a concern to me. Plus, sometimes the attacks hurt enough to make me cry. She loves water and bats at running water from the faucet or jumps in to the bathtub when I am sitting on my shower chair using my hand held shower. She knocks over the cat box sometimes, and when I sweep, esp. when I am cleaning up the dumped over cat box, she attacks the broom like it is a toy. Although she sleeps with me, she sometimes will attack me in bed. She has plenty of toys which she plays with but will ignore them if she has her mind made up that she is going to cause chaos. She ignores “no” unless I yell real loud and startle her or I blow on her. I have had to put her in timeout twice just for my sanity and to get anything done. She sounds even worse than the cat mentioned in the article. I love her and I do not think she hates me but I am not sure I can last out her kitten hood. She is at her worst when I am in the room sitting in my chair for instance. Can you help me with any suggestions or resources? Does it sound like she has ADHD? Thank you from Meeka’s Mom

  5. I’m pretty sure my cat has ADHD. She loves to play fight humans and other cats and doesn’t take no for an answer from humans, she’s learned to back off the strays. She loves has extreme mood swings. Loves to break things. Demands attention. Never gets tired. We’ll play chase with her favorite toy jumping and running for hours til I can’t take anymore. But she will play with her other toys about 30 seconds. Like most cats she likes to zoom around the room but she does it at least 3 times a day every day.
    She grazes so I always keep her food bowl filled but she will trash the kitchen if she wants wet food.
    She’s been with be since about 3 weeks old. I was cats sitting another cat at the time, he was 2, she, a baby, would bully him. And Charlie was social too but he didn’t want to play fight every hour she was awake.
    I don’t know how to help my out of control cat be less wild.
    I love her, I’m just use to chill cats.

  6. my cat is just over a year old. He is crazy . Doesn’t like closed doors and hardly sleeps. Wants me up early to play with him. Crazy cat Is this normal for a one year old

    • It sounds like he’s got a lot of excess energy, Marlene, and that’s perfectly normal for a one-year-old cat. Make sure he has plenty of healthy outlets for that energy. Try structured “play therapy” with him: play with him for 10-15 minutes, two to three times a day. Really get him tired out. Make sure he has plenty of stimulation (window perches or cat trees near windows, etc.).

  7. I think the Asperger Syndrome describes most cats’ personalities better. There is even a book about it:
    There is a companion book: All Dogs have ADHD. Both of these books are great.
    As a mother of two boys with Aspergers (officially this is no longer a diagnosis and Asperger Syndrome now falls under the Autism umbrella) and a 3-month old kitten I find this book to be very accurate. I first saw both books about cats and dogs at my sons’ therapist office.

  8. I think my cat suffers from this, she demands breakfast at 5 am in the morning, if I don;t respond she jumps on my head, washes me until I get up, then is very hyper until I put the food down. During all this she overgrooms and rubs her eyes until they are quite red. Been to vets numerous times, nothing wrong with the eyes, but I see a mood swing with this overgrooming and have put it down to ocd for a long time but it could well be adhd. I manage it with Dr Vogel Rescue Remedy drops to the top of the head and camomile tea for bathing the eyes after rubbing. Other times she is quite chilled and relaxed!

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