Can Cats Have ADHD?

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and it is a condition that causes problems with attention and hyperactivity in children. It can also cause similar symptoms in adults.

Some people may wonder whether their pet cat can have ADHD. Unfortunately, no one really knows the answer to this as there is a lack of research in this field. 

For a person to be diagnosed with ADHD, their behavior has to be monitored over several months, and the symptoms of ADHD must be present consistently during this period. 

No such study has been done on cats before, so whether ADHD can be present in cats is unknown. 

However, the symptoms of a person with ADHD can be similar to some behaviors displayed by some cats. 

This article will be outlining some behaviors that your cat is exhibiting that are in line with the symptoms of ADHD. 

Short Attention Span

Cats tend to get bored easily, and they often lose interest quickly if something does not grab their attention. You may notice that your cat may be playing with you happily one minute, but then move on the minute something else grabs their attention. 

Humans who have ADHD also have this problem, they struggle to focus on one thing at a time. 

Lack Of Self-Awareness

People with ADHD are more likely to act without thinking about what they are doing. They may do things impulsively or without considering the consequences. Cats can sometimes behave like this too. 

They may jump up on people unexpectedly, or run into doors when they should not. They may also sprawl over your computer keys, and have no issue waking you up at 5 am, so they can be fed! 


Your cat may be constantly running around the house, jumping from room to room, or just being generally restless. This could be due to boredom, excitement, or stress. 

This is very common behavior in kittens, but if your cat is a senior (over 9 or 10 years old), then it could be displaying some ADHD symptoms. 

Mood Swings 

Mood swings are another common symptom of ADHD. You may find that your cat can go from being perfectly calm and content on your lap, to randomly biting you and running around the house. 

Addictive Personality 

Individuals with ADHD can have more of an addictive personality than those who don’t. 

Think about how your cat behaves with its treats and food. If you change the flavor or brand, do they take a while to get used to it? Do they walk away from it at first? 

Your cat could have developed an addiction to a certain kind of food you have been feeding it. 

As long as the food you are giving them is healthy, this is not a harmful thing. Just be wary you are not letting them overindulge, as this could lead to unwanted weight gain. 

They Find It Hard To Listen 

While cats do not respond to their owners as dogs do, they do still respond to their owners in their own way. However, some cats may seem especially defiant, and it seems as though they are never listening to you. 

This could be because they are overstimulated, focusing on too many things at once. 

This is something that individuals with ADHD may struggle with, depending on the severity. 


Cats are curious by nature, and so are people with ADHD. However, a cat may be curious about something, but if it doesn’t smell good, or it hurts them, they will back off. 

If you find that your cat does not understand that signal and keeps going back to that same thing, then it could be displaying signs of ADHD. 

Sleeping All Day

This is a hard trait to identify, as cats can be lazy creatures who sleep a lot. However, if they are very active at night to the point that they are keeping you awake, then this could be a symptom of ADHD. 

If they have been running around excessively throughout the night, it may be that they have exhausted themselves to the point where they need the entire day to sleep it off. 

They may find it hard to relax and rest, and this is why they need to tire themselves out in order for them to sleep.

Treating ADHD In Cats

While there is no official treatment you can give your cat since this is not something that can be diagnosed in them, there are ways you can help them out. 

Engaging in fun playtime with your cat will help tire them out and use up their energy, so they are less hyperactive, especially at night. 

If they tend to keep you up at night, try scheduling playtime before bed, so they use up their energy just before you need to go to sleep. 

Making playtime as engaging for them as possible is the key to this. You can purchase a variety of toys that they can engage with, such as soft toys, feather sticks, etc. 

If your cat has become addicted to food or treats, try making a game out of this and hide these items around your home. This will tire them out and can also help to weave them off their addiction. 

If playing with them at night still doesn’t tone down their hyperactivity, then you should ensure you are playing with them throughout the day also. Be sure to use positive reinforcement with treats, so they know they are behaving accordingly. 

Allowing them to play outside is also a great way for them to use their energy. If you don’t like the idea of them wandering around on their own, you can use a harness on them, so you can take them for walks. 

If you are concerned about your cat’s hyperactivity, then you should make a trip to the vet, as this behavior may be due to an underlying medical condition. 

Final Thoughts 

While more research needs to be done as to whether cats can be diagnosed with ADHD, some felines may display certain behaviors similar to humans who have ADHD. 

If you feel your cat may have ADHD, then be sure to keep it entertained as much as you can. This will not only use up your cat’s energy, but it will also be a bonding activity. Who doesn’t love playing with a cute cat? 

Courtney Trent
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