Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why my cat has autism

I had to get up at the crack of dawn this morning (7am) to take Elsie to the vet with my mom. She has to get steroid shots every few weeks to keep her muscle-wasting, which causes her throwing up, under control. So off to the vet we went. On this brief trip to the vet, I discovered something huge. My cat is autistic. It's no wonder we get along so well.

It came to me when we were in the car. Elsie is afraid of the cat carrier (it took her to the vet once, after all), so we take her in her harness and pretty pink leash. She didn't want to be held to get the harness on, so I gave her a treat right after she got it on and that made her feel better. I planned to give her another treat in the car, to let her know what a good girl she was being, but... I couldn't engage her. She was so involved in looking out the windows that I couldn't engage her, couldn't get her eye contact, even to give her a treat. This has happened when I took her outside on her harness and leash, too. You can't get her eyes to look at your eyes. She's in her own kitty world. The lack of engagement and lack of eye contact is what made me realize wow, Elsie is acting like she has autism.

We got to the vet and she absolutely hated the noise of the cars outside. Kitties have super-sensitive hearing, of course, and our vet is on a busy street. The cars passing outside were so distracting to her that she didn't even feel it when she got the shot. Hmm, sensory integration issues?

Then there's the issue of her food. Elsie is o.b.s.e.s.s.e.d. with eating. Obsessed. It's all she thinks about, I swear. She starts meowing for dinner around 2:30 in the afternoon, and she doesn't eat until 5! She'll do anything to get you to feed her. That's her number one goal. Elsie loves food more than I love cats, I think!

Did you ever think a cat could have echolalia? Mine does! Sometimes she has conversations with you, but other times, she just repeats what you say (by meowing in the same tone that you speak to her in). "Elsie?" "Me-ow?" "What's up kitty?" "Me-ow meow." You get the idea. She's got it down pat. Kitty echolalia.

There's a book out there called All Cats Have Asperger's Syndrome. My first diagnosis was Asperger's, and when I got my diagnosis, I got this book. My mom said that the author must have known that I was out there somewhere. If you know someone with Asperger's who loves cats, this book is adorable. And so true!

Elsie recovered just fine from the shot she never felt :)


  1. This amuses me. I don't think Joe is autistic... I think he's just high all the time or something. Probably from the catnip plant on our porch. I feel like his attitude is always, "dude... just relax."

    Question: do you think autistic people get along better with other autistic people? And if so, why? Maybe because they can understand each other better? Or do you think it's just doubly awkward but nobody cares? Or some combination? Or something I'm not thinking of?

  2. We understand each other better so we're more tolerate of things like difficulty with talking and needing to wear headphones at fireworks, things "normal" people would think to have issues with. Other autistic people are good people to practice new skills on. Like if you have trouble asking questions, try it out with another autistic person first, cause they don't care if you're awkward. I work on talking to different people, or at least I try to. I'm more open to talking to different people when they're autistic. But all this stuff holds true for people who just understand autism, too... parents, brothers, sisters, friends. It's also doubly awkward, and nobody cares. People with autism generally aren't very judgmental of social things like that, so awkward isn't on our radar.

  3. Thanks for the very educational and helpful information. I loved your post. I have 2 cats and I am always looking for tips to make my little cat happy. please help me