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10 Signs Your Cat Has ADHD

10 Signs Your Cat Has ADHD
©Zoë Kessler

Does your cat have ADHD? While it’s not contagious, it is genetic. How much do you really know about where your kitten came from?

Here are the signs to look for if you think your cat has ADHD.

1) She’s old but runs around like a kitten

I often think of ADHD as the fountain of youth. Ever notice how many people with ADHD act, think, and often look younger than their years?

If your cat’s running around like a kitten even though she’s a senior citizen, she might have ADHD.

2) Cuddling has to be her choice, not yours

Every time I relax in a comfy chair or sprawl on my loveseat, inevitably my cat finds me and jumps on my lap. On the other hand, if I pick her up, she acts like I’m torturing her.

To get the most out of your ADHD cat or ADHD human, let us do something freely chosen that we’re passionate about. Like eat salmon.

3) She has rapid mood swings

Whom among us has not been lulled into a false sense of security by the motor-like idling of our cat’s purr as she lavishes in our heartfelt outpouring of affection – only to suddenly receive a swift, full-clawed swat, leaving us bloodied and betrayed?

The mood-swing Queen hath struck again.

Sound like any ADHDers you know? (mood swings and irritability are common in both men and women with ADHD).

4) She’s impulsive

Behaviors #2 and #3 could be due to impulsivity, common to cats and ADHD humans.

Have you suddenly walked away in the middle of a conversation? Has your ADHD spouse? And how many times have you been talking to your cat only to have her leap off the couch and go to another room? (or have I said too much with the “talking to your cat” bit?)

5) She’s an addict

People with ADHD are at higher risk for addictions. Ever notice how your cat craves the cheap junk cat food but turns her nose up at the all-natural, organic kibble that cost you an arm and a leg? While you think about your answer, pass the chips.

6) She sleeps all day

Many folks with ADHD have trouble sleeping at night and, if left to their own devices, would far rather sleep all day and prowl all night. ‘Nuff said.

7) She’s charming, endearing, funny (sometimes)

We ADHDers might have our less endearing traits, but often we’re noted for our wit, charm, and sense of humor. Note I said often, but not always. Now consider your cat.

8) She loves the outdoors

Not all cats love the outdoors. Not all people with ADHD love the outdoors. But many of us do. A word of warning: if you let us out, chances are good we’ll get lost or wander away. Best to tie a bell around our necks.

9) She hyperfocuses

Ever watch a cat watch a mouse? That’s hyperfocus elevated to an art form.

10) She lacks self-awareness

Your cat thinks she’s the queen of the household, perhaps of the known universe.

Your cat thinks staring at you unrelentingly will get you to feed her 20 times a day.

Your cat thinks it’s ok to lie on whatever you’re doing, interrupting you and disrupting your flow.

There may be zero chance your cat will understand that you and she interpret these behaviors differently; but if you have ADHD, you can learn that some of your behaviors are seen differently by others.

For example: that funny joke you busted into your co-worker’s office to share? She was on the phone.

Not so funny.

*  *  *  *  *

ADHD in your cat may not be treatable. In you, it’s highly treatable.

While you’ll want to make the most of the good traits (like your adorableness and keen ability to think outside the litter box), you’ll also want to curb your nighthawk, thrill-seeking, or risk-taking behavior.

We wouldn’t want you prowling around in the alleys, now would we?



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10 Signs Your Cat Has ADHD

Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed.

Zoë Kessler is an award-winning author, journalist, and speaker specializing in women and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD / ADD).

A frequent contributor to ADDitude Magazine, Kessler has also created video, standup comedy, and guest blogs on ADHD and Marriage covering ADHD-related topics.

Zoë, an internationally recognized ADHD expert, has been interviewed on radio and featured in magazine articles, documentaries, and books on the topic of women and ADHD across North America.

Her newly-released memoir ADHD According to Zoë - The Real Deal on relationships, Finding Your Focus & Finding Your Keys (New Harbinger Publications, 2013) about life with ADHD is now available.

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APA Reference
Kessler, Z. (2013). 10 Signs Your Cat Has ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 Feb 2013
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