Can Cats Have ADHD? 13 Signs and Symptoms Explained

ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a mental disorder that affects about 3% of school-aged children in the United States. Believe it or not, this disorder can also be found in cats! In fact, up to 10% of domesticated cats may have the condition.

A cat can be diagnosed with ADHD if he/she can’t seem to calm down for longer than two hours at a time and can’t pay attention to what his owners are doing or saying to him. If you can catch these symptoms early, you can seek proper treatment for your cat so things will no longer get out of hand between the two of you!

If your feline friend can also show signs such as aggression, hyperactivity, excessive grooming, stealing, and purring (non-stop) then it’s safe to say there is some kind of problem going on in his head and will require some kind of treatment rather soon otherwise things may not just settle themselves.

Here are some signs and symptoms you should keep an eye out for as well as treatment options for your cat with ADHD.

13 Signs Your Cat has ADHD

1. Disorganization

When a cat with ADHD can’t really seem to settle down and get organized, she can become quite destructive and even harmful to herself.

Think about all of the sharp pointy things in your house like pencils, pens, wires etc. It can be very easy for a cat with ADHD to injure himself or herself, particularly if they can’t get their phlegmatic body to do what it needs to do.

2. Fidgety-ness

If your cat can spend over an hour in a box and not move, he/she can have ADHD! When you can’t find him or he can be sitting right next to you and still not even react that you are there, this is a big problem for cats with ADHD.

If your cat can’t seem to stay awake, can’t seem to sit still, and can’t behave himself without doing something destructive then chances are high that your cat has this disorder because all of these things can happen as well.

3. Disease Prone

Because cats with ADHD typically don’t listen when we try to train them so they can be healthier, they can get sick more often. It can be quite hard for a cat to pay attention to anything when it can’t even focus on the person talking.

In addition, if your cat can’t seem to eat well and can’t really settle down long enough to have a good meal then chances are she can potentially get some form of disease or illness because cats need food as fuel and nutrition for their bodies.

4. Aggression

Unfortunately, ADHD in cats can also make them very aggressive and uncooperative which can cause you physical danger! Make sure you manage your cat with these symptoms carefully so he doesn’t do something that will harm either him or anyone else in your house.

5. Mood Swings

You can make sure to watch for these mood swings when you can’t seem to predict how your cat will act or behave. Cats with ADHD can really be hard to get along with and can take a lot of extra work that can often not even be worth it because the end result can cause much fighting, arguing, and frustration between you and your feline friend.

6. No Focus

When a cat can’t seem to focus on anything in particular it can become quite destructive. You should pay close attention if your cat is doing things like this so nothing gets damaged too badly by his paws! If he can’t remain focused then chances are neither can you which means you may find yourself in big trouble as the owner of an ADHD kitty.

7. Non-stop Purring

When cats can’t seem to stop purring, it can usually be a sign that they are overstimulated and can’t focus on what they really need to do. It can also mean that your cat can’t seem to calm down which can cause him stress and anxiety. Take a look at the situation in your house and see how you can decrease any stimuli for your cat so he doesn’t feel stressed out anymore!

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8. Hard To Discipline

If you have tried disciplining your ADHD cat but she can still not get her act together then chances are she might have this disorder. Cats with Attention Deficit Disorder tend to put their bodies into “hyperactive mode” when there’s too much stimuli around them or if they can’t focus, which can be dangerous for both you and your cat in the long run.

9. Stealing

If you can’t seem to stop an ADHD cat from taking things that aren’t hers then chances are she can have this disorder. When a feline with ADHD can’t listen to what her owners are saying or can pay full attention to anything but herself, she will act up and do whatever it takes to get what she wants because of all the extra stimuli around her.

Just like human children with ADHD, cats can also become quite sneaky when they can barely even listen to instructions!

10. Trouble Getting Around

And last but not least, when your cat is having trouble getting from one place to another or can’t seem to do so on his own, it can be a sign that he can have ADHD. If you can’t even trust your cat can walk without bumping into things or falling down the stairs then chances are big that he can have this disorder as well.

11. Trouble Sleeping

When cats can’t sleep more than just a few hours at night and can barely sit still long enough during the day, it’s also a clear indicator there may be some trouble with their emotional state. If your cat can hardly stay awake for longer than two hours at a time and can seem rather jumpy all of the time then don’t worry because there are plenty of solutions out there for cats with these issues!

12. Over-Grooming

Over-grooming can also be a clear symptom of ADHD in cats. If your cat can’t seem to stop licking her fur and can’t sit still for longer than an hour then this can become quite damaging over time as well as getting rid of any hair you may have had left on him!

13. Coughing

This is yet another symptom that can indicate if your pet can have Attention Deficit Disorder or not. Cats with these issues tend to overstimulate themselves which can cause them to get pretty sick because their bodies won’t settle down! Make sure you relax your cat when he’s having a harder time settling himself down so he can feel more comfortable and calm.

What to do If your Cat has ADHD?

Treatment of ADHD in Cats can be complex and can require a multi-faceted approach. Your veterinarian can prescribe medications to help calm your cats, such as Clomipramine or Fluoxetine.

If your cat tends to get bored easily there are pet toys available that can help with this issue, such as the cat charmer. Many cats enjoy batting at a wand or string, giving them the stimulation they need while you relax.

Animal behaviorists suggest petting time should have a pattern of consistency & length since some cats can become dependent on petting for self-soothing which can lead to aggression if not given enough petting time every day. If you can’t provide enough attention for your cat for the time it needs throughout the day, this can be a good idea to deal with whatever underlying issues may be present.

Specific behavioural, management can work well in some cases. If you are able to know why your cat is acting out, you can then take steps to avoid these situations or prevent them from happening again. Often improving the quality of life for one’s owner can greatly improve the problem behaviors seen in their cats.

DIY solutions can make caring for your cat easier as well; such as making sure they always have fresh water available and giving them a place where they can relieve themselves when needed can help reduce stress on both sides. Some people simply cover their toilet seat with paper towels and place a litter box on top.

Your cat can also benefit from therapy, such as training or behavior modification. This can be done by your veterinarian or with the guidance of an animal behaviorist or trainer. A behavioral specialist can help identify triggers and can provide realistic solutions to problems you may not have considered.

And finally, humans can benefit from therapy too! Many times cats can find themselves in difficult situations because their owners are failing to meet their needs for attention & stimulation properly. It can be just as helpful for you to learn how to better interact with your pet, especially if you expect them to behave differently than they do naturally.

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At What Age do Cats Calm Down?

It can be very frustrating and confusing when your cat exhibits behavior that can only be described as irritating. A common complaint is a hyperactive kitten or cat who can’t seem to understand the difference between playing and not touching that keyboard!

Most kittens are not born with behavioral problems. In fact, they are usually calm, playful, and cute babies. But something seems to happen at around 3 to 6 months of age where most cats begin to exhibit signs of hyperactivity such as excessive energy, skittishness, acting out, or getting into things they shouldn’t (closets, drawers, etc.).

Humans have been able to pinpoint several reasons why some kittens become so active.

1) Genetics

If one or both parents were hyperactive or had other behavioral disorders, there can be a strong chance of their offspring having the same conditions. Injecting and breeding can also play a role in this process

2) Environment

If you get your cat from an environment that includes a lot of cats (a multi-cat household), they can be more hyper than if you had gotten them with just one or two others.

3) Age

Like human children, as your kitten grows up it can exhibit signs of maturity such as not wanting to play all the time. This can bring on some stress for both the parent(s) and child because they are not sure what is going on: why don’t we want to do what we used to? A change can help relieve some of the stress that can come with this change in routine.

4) Stress

Kids can be a handful for any parent, and when it comes to kids we can say the same thing about cats as well. Moving can be stressful on a cat’s body because they have to adjust to life in an unfamiliar home. Dogs can also trigger stress because they are often looked at as playmates since kittens may not know what other types of friends they can get themselves (crawling insects anyone?).

5) Addressing Hyperactivity: Finding out Why Your Kitten Is Acting This Way

If you try putting your kitten in confined spaces such as boxes, using pheromones or spraying white noise-like scents like lavender can help calm them down.

Adding more light can help encourage your kitten to play (easier for you to see as well), especially since it can be fun for them when they can catch and chase their own shadows.

Noise aversion can also work, so try getting a radio that you can leave on in the background while playing with your cat. This can help drown out any other sounds around your house or apartment that could trigger stress responses from your fur baby.

If everything else fails, consider seeking professional behavioral assistance if none of these tips seem to be working. It’s very possible that something is wrong with how you are treating or dealing with this animal.

Without proper attention, this can soon become an unhealthy habit that can spread further than just one cat!

5 Easy Steps to Calm Down a Hyper Cat

1) Don’t Punish Your Cat 

It can be very frustrating and upsetting when a loved pet has suddenly decided to become hyperactive. It can be especially distressing if you are unfamiliar with the signs of cat hyperactivity or how to calm a hyper cat. A person can be forgiven for lashing out and trying to punish their pet when they misbehave, but a better idea is to just remove the cat from the situation.

If your cat has jumped on a counter or scratched something other than his scratching pole, put him in another room for about half an hour. The goal here is not punishment, but isolation so he can’t do any more damage until he’s calmed down.

2) Know What Can Calm Your Cat Down

Cats can often help themselves calm down by simply being able to escape from stressors that agitate them. This can be achieved by giving them something that can safely contain them in a way that allows for some level of comfort. This can be done easily with a cat cave or sanctuary bed since they can pass through and under it, but are still confined to the area you have selected for them to stay in.

Buy flexible tubing at your local pet store (you can often get this free). Wrap it around your furniture as an alternative path so they can curl up beneath it if there is too much stress on the floor.

Cats can also make themselves feel more secure when they are stressed by hiding under things like furniture or cardboard boxes. Make sure these hiding places have little holes or openings through which they can stick their heads out and survey the area, and can’t crawl through completely to get trapped inside.

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3) Teach Your Cat To Feel Comfortable When He Can’t Escape From The Area You’ve Chosen For Him To Stay In

This can be done by trying to put your cat in a place that at first scares him, but which he then learns can actually provide security as long as you are nearby. If he’s afraid of the dark, experiment with turning out the lights for a few seconds each day; if he doesn’t like certain noises (such as those from vacuums or brooms) try listening to them while holding him.

Eventually, you can begin leaving him alone in this environment, giving praise when he remains calm until it stops being scary.

4) Separate Their Hyperactivity From Their Personality 

It can help to remember when dealing with a hyperactive cat that there is still a good deal of the real personality inside. When you can see them as both angels and devil at the same time in one package, it can be easier to remain compassionate instead of frustrated. It can also be helpful not to think about their behavior as something being done on purpose, but something they can’t control right now. 

Keep rewarding them for things like eating or using a litter box during this period (but avoid giving attention too soon after an inappropriate outburst). Ask your vet if the anti-anxiety medication can be used to treat this.

5) Think Of A Hyperactive Cat As Having ADHD But For Cats

Remember, there can be a separate, non-human form of mental disorders and/or cognitive disabilities that can affect cats as well.

Remember the signs of cat hyperactivity can also be the very same things that can cause serious damage in humans with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This can make it harder for you to deal with them at times when their behavior becomes extremely exaggerated because they are not coping with something without your help.

You must remember that even though they are different physically speaking, cats can still have disorders like ADHD which can cause them to act out just as obviously as humans.

If your cat has ADHD, you can still help him cope with it. You can try to find ways of putting them in an environment where they can feel more comfortable when they can’t escape from their problems and possibly can not control themselves.

Remember that this condition can be just as serious for the cat who has it as it can be for a human being, so do what you can to make sure that your feline friend is getting the help he needs!

6) Know That This Is Not A Life Sentence And There Are Treatments Available For Cat ADHD

If cats have ADHD, there are some supplements that they can take to treat this disease for their cats. You can consult your vet about such options if you feel like your cat may have ADHD.

If your cat is diagnosed with ADHD, then you can decide if you want to choose a treatment option based on diet or supplements. There are food options for these cats which can help their hyperactivity be lowered by making them feel more relaxed in certain situations.

You can also consider in what circumstances your cat appears to act out the most. Sometimes you can find ways of avoiding the situation altogether.


When you have a healthy, happy cat that is showing signs of high energy levels, it can be difficult to determine whether they are just being extra-enthusiastic or if there may be something else going on.

With this in mind, we want to remind you that your veterinarian should always be the first stop when investigating any issues with your pet’s health and behavior.

If all tests come back negative for disease or other underlying causes of their increased activity level then you won’t need to worry about anything too serious happening; however, if one of those things does turn out to be an issue then they will know how best to treat them based on what’s gone wrong.

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Immad Amir

Immad has a black Labrador who is his first child. With no prior experience of how to take care of his pooch, Immad started researching about what dogs love to eat. This blog is a journal of all the research Immad has done regarding a pet's diet.
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