Instigator / Pro
7
1780
rating
405
debates
67.53%
won
Topic

Cats have/portray/display/pertain the majority of symptoms of autism. Autism, in human diagnosis terms, is in fact the 'neurotypical' state of a cat's mind.

Status
Finished

All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

Arguments points
3
0
Sources points
2
2
Spelling and grammar points
1
1
Conduct points
1
0

With 1 vote and 4 points ahead, the winner is ...

RationalMadman
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30,000
Contender / Con
3
1506
rating
4
debates
50.0%
won
Description
~ 2,180 / 5,000

Cats are not 'all types of cat' if we go into wild forms. I am referring to the creature that is smaller than a big dog and is generally domesticated or feral but lives in bushes. Lions and all such 'wild' variations of cat are not relevant to the debate. Any cat brought up by Pro or Con has to be the size and shape that is what people mean when they describe a 'pet cat', even if some of that physical type are feral.

examples of cat:

https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/VSy6kJDNq2pSXsCzb6cvYF-1200-80.jpg
https://cdn.britannica.com/47/168047-131-123149D2/cat-hair-growl-teeth-snarl.jpg
https://vetstreet-brightspot.s3.amazonaws.com/9d/6d/844f96204112adb76d7dff7f300e/man-loves-cats-iStock_000017127254-335sm6914.jpg
https://www.peta.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/IMG_9786-1.jpg
https://www.litter-robot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Cat-sniffing-kitten-760x335.jpg

When I say symptoms of autism, this includes:
https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-are-symptoms-autism

they may not understand or appropriately use:
Spoken language (around a third of people with autism are nonverbal)
Gestures
Eye contact
Facial expressions
Tone of voice
Expressions not meant to be taken literally

Additional social challenges can include difficulty with:
Recognizing emotions and intentions in others
Recognizing one’s own emotions
Expressing emotions
Seeking emotional comfort from others
Feeling overwhelmed in social situations
Taking turns in conversation
Gauging personal space (appropriate distance between people)

Restricted and repetitive behaviors vary greatly across the autism spectrum. They can include:

Repetitive body movements (e.g. rocking, flapping, spinning, running back and forth)
Repetitive motions with objects (e.g. spinning wheels, shaking sticks, flipping levers)
Staring at lights or spinning objects
Ritualistic behaviors (e.g. lining up objects, repeatedly touching objects in a set order)
Narrow or extreme interests in specific topics
Need for unvarying routine/resistance to change (e.g. same daily schedule, meal menu, clothes, route to school)

There are a couple more potentially but that covers what I will argue that cats have the majority of.

Round 1
Pro
In order to present you a case here, I need to predict specifically where my opponent will point out how cats don't meet the criteria of 'autistic'. One way I predict he will do this is to point out that they do socialise but... Autism isn't 'antisocial' it is 'I want to somewhat socialise, really I do, I just got no clue how so I'll learn by mimicking others and observing'.

The fundamental difference between a person with Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) (sociopaths and psychopaths) and a person with autism spectrum disorder/s (ASD) (unless they have both) is that ASD revolves around wanting to get along with others but being unable to whereas ASPD revolves around having zero intention of genuinely getting along with others but in fact being very capable of doing so if the ASPD person is high-functioning (with ease, too).

The antisocial type genuinely resents people and other beings, it wants them to feel agony; the autistic type doesn't mean any harm yet by nature would call a fat person 'fat' until they realise the pain it causes them and how to estimate that.

Cats, with how autistic they are, can be contrasted to just about any domesticated mammalian pet and be seen to blatantly be the most socially awkward and clueless ones with how to empathise with human beings. Unlike dogs, who can literally bite on a toddler safely, knowing exactly what harm it can do and being sure to barely harm it (unless the dog is very severely mentally disordered), a cat will very likely lash out at toddlers because also the way they react to toddlers annoying them actually entices the toddler to keep doing so.

The reason for this is similar to how autistic people extremely unintentionally both attract bullies and react strong to bullies making them unfortunately ideal victims for the type of bullies who enjoy appearing to not really be initating the conflict. Let's say a young child pokes a cat, the cat has next to 0 iq by nature, it only learns this manually through experience. It believes in a very simple idea; it will tap the hand back with its paw and hope the child understands the warning. This tends to work perfectly vs other cats and the only cats it wont work against are intentionally attacking and provoking the cat with full understanding of the scratching and biting that can and will ensue if it keeps going. This is extremely akin to how autistic people, despite how extremely unique and different they can be to each other, tend to appreciate each other's blunt and blatant ways of making clear when they're upset and specifically what is upsetting them.

The problem is that humans don't. A young human child is not only quite sadistic and selfish (despite this 'we are all born innocent' mantra, we are in fact much more selfish when young, those who are antisocial don't outgrow that. It sees that it's annoying the cat and that the cat really predictably reacts with pushes, meows and eventually hisses. It's like a fun stuffed animal that actually reacts. This scenario is not just an example of cats having no clue how to handle someone who enjoys annoying them but also is an example of sensory overstimulation resulting in rather severe reactions from cats.

In contrast to this, dogs (which are potentially the single least autistic pet animal there is) will rapidly catch onto the notion that this young human either wants to play or is being mean for a reaction on purpose (they'll assume the former, once the latter is clearer if that's the case, they'll adopt a very unreactive state and if the child still continues they will slowly move to the parents hoping they stop the annoyance). Also in contrast to this, when other beings like dogs get overstimulated, while they can react hostile, they tend to simply try and somehow lessen their suffering or 'get used to it', cats actually are smarter in a way because they will directly either try and work out how to stop the overstimulating thing but as soon as it seems too confusing they will then try and just escape the situation. 

Cats have routine and are one of the single most curious pets out there. On their own, neither of these are autistic per se but let's just see how unusual this is for other animals.

I challenge Con to find me another animal that on its own (it can literally be out in the garden) develops the ability to know based on sun rising vs setting, approximately when the owner will not only return from work but feed them and pet them. It also knows just around when the owners will wake up, when they will leave (and unlike a dog the cat won't get too sad about this, they'll instantly know its time to be independent and get ready to be on their own), they even can learn phrases. Unlike dogs and many other mammalian creatures, cats don't respond to tone of voice appropriately at all, they just manually learn to associate phrases and ways of saying things based with the direct outcomes. Cats hate very loud noises so yelling does scare them but doesn't make them realise they did anything 'wrong', just that the yelling isn't pleasant.

If you get angry with most mammalian pets when they do a certain thing, they learn to not do it literally because it angers you. Cats do not work this way at all, they work by associating the outcome of you either yelling or overstimulating them by getting too close with them doing what they did. The moment you are out of the house they may literally disrespect every single 'rule' you set, yes that includes climbing on the kitchen table. In contrast, pets such as rats which are somewhat on the autistic spectrum I'd say (milder than cats) would obey a rule like not going on a surface even when the owner is away (confirmed with footage).

Cats are one of the only pets deemed truly domesticated that is absolutely only ever trainable if it feels like being it. All other pets are able to be trained against their direct will based on food, tone of voice, petting etc. Cats are indeed treat-oriented of course but are also likely to misinterpret treats as an entitled food item.

It is dangerous to overuse food as the motive when training cats (which can't be done if the cats doesn't want to be trained) because they rarely ever assume what they did in action caused you to give them the treat. In fact they just assume you're curious if they like the treat or not (totally unrelated to the context of what they just did) and it takes around 20 tries at something before they really get a clue that you are giving the treat for the action. This is a very autistic way to interpret the scenario. Other untrainable animals just tend to totally lack the mental capacity to link what they did with the reward vs punishment, cats can do that but go 'na, no way I just sat on the ground and they gave me a treat it has nothing to do with me sitting that's a ridiculous assumption.'

If you think I am exaggerating here or misportraying either autism or cats, then I recommend to find a source to prove me wrong.

I have many sources and many more points, I just don't want all rounds filled with many chars, 30k max lets us be flexible for longer warfare later on in the debate, we needn't do it so much earlier (or at least I won't this Round).

A couple of things to also consider, cats not only pick up on the routine of their owners better than any other animal (dogs do it by linking owners moving or acting a certain way with the outcome, cats categorically memorise daily routine and even weekly alterations in routine and time their entry through the cat flap into the house precisely for when they predict their human companion will arrive home and be ready for interaction each day. Unlike other creatures that like to be stroked or don't, cats have huge variation depending on their mood. Almost all dogs love to be stroked and almost no reptiles enjoy prolonged stroking. Rats and hamsters etc either like it or dislike it and tend to have rigid preferences in that department. In contrast, cats can go from very purry and stroke-hungry to suddenly biting (yes, brutally biting) their owner depending specifically on if the owner happened to randomly touch a place the cat dislikes. Sure, this is very rare, they'd usually push the hand away with their paw as a warning but what I want to point out is that this is very akin to how autistic humans have specific moods and times they want to be hugged and touched and times where they want your body several feet away or they feel their personal space is invaded (especially when they're angry or scared).
Con
Thank you RationalMadman.

It is my hope to discredit my opponents claim by using the wording of their own proposal to demonstrate their claim is nothing more than anthropomorphism, which means attributing human qualities to God's, animals, and objects, whether they are accurate attributes or not. It is my belief that my opponents proposal relies on generalizations regarding feline behavior, and not objective proof. 

Because of the wording of my opponents proposal, Pro must be able to clear a hurdle of proving that cats neurotypical state is a diagnosable mental disorder that we know as autism. Just using general observations of feline behavior cannot by itself suffice as diagnosable proof of cats neurotypical state being an autistic state. 

I hope to demonstrate that my opponent will only be able to rely on generalized observations of cat behavior, and cannot clear the hurdle of being able to prove that a cats neurotypical state is indeed a diagnosable state of autism. Being that the proposal claims that a cats mental state is "in human diagnosis terms, is in fact the 'neurotypical' state of a cat's mind", Pro must be able to prove that when a cat does portray/display behaviors commonly associated with autism, those behaviors are objectively as a result of autism, and not coincidental behaviors that results from a misunderstanding of a cats personality due to a simple lack of cat quale. Therefore, if my opponent cannot prove that cats have or pertain a diagnosable neurotypical state we as humans know as autism, then any behaviors that cats "portray/display" cannot be considered anything more than coincidental behaviors that seem to be like autism.        

Because of the wording of the proposal, I do not need to prove that when cats do portray, or display behaviors associated with autism that the reasons for those behaviors are not a result of autism, rather, my opponent must prove that those behaviors are indeed an objective result of a diagnosable state of autism. I, as Con, also do not need to prove that some cats cannot be afflicted by autism, or a similar feline version of autism (kitty autism, or pawtism). It is instead the duty of Pro to prove that the vast majority of cats have a neurotypical state of mind that is a diagnosable state of autism.         
 
My opponent will rely heavily on observations of feline behavior, like for instance, the claim that cats have difficulty understanding or appropriating spoken language. But a quick Google search will show us that cats do indeed use verbal (spoken) language, physical contact, as well as visual and chemical cues to communicate with other cats, and humans. It can just as easily be argued that it is in fact humans who do not understand cat language. Pro's argument that a cats difficulty in understanding spoken language is akin to claiming that anybody who doesn't speak the language we speak must be autistic, even if they speak fluent Russian. Cats speak cat language quite well, and humans are not automatically autistic for not understanding their language. Just the same as cats are not autistic because of our observation (note, it's only a visual observation) of them not being able to understand our spoken language. My opponents claim that cats cannot understand spoken language is anthropomorphism, and not a case of a cats behavior caused by a diagnosable state of autism. 


Another problem my opponent will face will be their reliance on typical cat behavior even though we all know that not every cat is the same just as humans are not. So because my opponent is working with so many variables, they will need to rely on generalizations and vague wording to try and convince you that the behaviors cats are displaying derive from autism, and this behavior is typical for all cats. Notice my opponents claim that autistic people have "narrow or extreme interests in specific topics". That claim pretty much covers all conditions of interest, so it would be seemingly impossible for a cat to not portray any kind of interest that falls outside the condition of interest my opponent has set, no matter what level of interest a cat has for anything. So long as a person, or cat has a specific interest in anything at a specific moment in time, it can be considered extreme if they become annoyed by distractions. When a person has a specific interest in a show, and they fly off the handle if they come into contact with a spoiler, this can be considered an extreme interest (especially for someone like me who has zero interest in tv shows), but is this kind of interest really autistic behavior? And if we walk past a piece of trash on a street corner and do not pick it up and examine it, it can be considered a narrow, or even non-existent interest, but those conditions of interest are not automatically autistic states. My opponent is relying on the fact that the concept of a moderate interest is too vague an idea for me to adequately describe to you, so therefore, cats must not be able to have that level of interest, so that level of interest is derived from autism. But again, can anybody really describe what a moderate level of interest is, and can they prove that cats cannot have that level of interest in things themselves?

My opponent will also need to bend the descriptions of autism, and even neurotypical (without mental disorders) human behavior to try and convince you of their claim. What my opponent will need to paint our mental state as a black and white photo that consists of typical (not with disorders), and atypical (with disorders). They will brand any antisocial behavior as atypical and will not allow room for anybody who may have no general interest in human contact. People who are antisocial will invariably be considered someone with a mental disorder in some manner, even though simply being disinterested in human contact is not in and of itself a mental disorder. People with crohns disease or chronic flatulence are often antisocial, but not because of any kind of mental disorder, or lack of savior faire, but because of their medical condition. There are countless stories of hermits and monks who are reclusive by choice, and yet they have no lack of understanding when it comes to social behaviors, and they also have no desire to harm other people, or are misanthropic an any sense. They just want to be alone. My opponents argument will not have much room for such types, and Pro will either need to somehow label them as someone with a mental disorder of some sort, or some type of person so rare, they are insignificant when it comes to typical human behavioral data. Basically, my opponent needs to blur the lines of human behavior and try to objectively categorize them even if a certain antisocial behavior falls outside the spectrum, or any sort of mental disorder.                  

My opponent will also need to rely on the popularity of the topic of autism in the media. Pro's argument will be nothing less than being the hammer who sees all their problems as nails. Autism was, and still is sometimes misconstrued as idiot savant, or savant syndrome. Aspergers wasn't an official diagnosis until 1981. Autism is not a disorder that's been thoroughly known about for centuries, it's fairly new to psychologists. Because of new understandings of autism among psychologists, it is increasingly becoming a very popular topic among the scientific community, the media, and society at large. Because of the popularity of the topic, it seems quite easy for all of us to be able to spot autistic behavior in people we don't know and have no idea of whether or not they are on the spectrum. But the truth is, if we don't know them, we actually do not have any idea whether they're on the spectrum. My opponents argument is taking this new social fad and pushing it one step further by claiming to be able to see autistic tendencies in cats (which is not an uncommon claim). But just like the hammer that only sees nails, my opponents argument is derived from a new social obsession with autism. Not to say this obsession is bad. At least we are becoming socially aware of the struggles and strengths of people who are on the spectrum, but we tend to attribute it in places where it isn't really at. Otherwise known as anthropomorphism.        

Something you may notice that seems to be lacking in my opponents proposal is an accurate physiological description of autism. For instance, what genetic mutations are linked to autism, or what neurological processes are not functioning in a typical fashion which causes autistic behavior.   But because of the nature of my opponents argument, that lack of that information is by design. My opponent will only be using general observations of behaviors commonly associated with autism and cats. But since my opponents claim is that a cats neurotypical state is a diagnosable state of autism, I will leave it up to you to decide if rudimentary observations alone are enough to clear the hurdle of a diagnosis of autism in all cats. Much research has been done to compare neurotypical brain functionality with that of the autistic functionality, and they do have objective differences. It is also known that a person's genetic makeup also plays a role in autistic behaviors. The burden of proof is squarely on Pro to prove that cats possess the same neurological processes and genetic mutations that cause autism. I wonder how this will be done without relying on the physiological evidence needed to prove all cats can be diagnosed with autism.    



  


         
 
  
Round 2
Pro
Correction to a statement of mine in Round 1:
 the cat has next to 0 iq by nature
I meant EQ. Cats have extremely low EQ, one of the lowest of any mammalian pet one could own. I'd even argue an undomesticated wild bear has more EQ than a domesticated cat, by nature. However, since cats are (as I say) autistic generally, as opposed to sociopathic (though some may be sociopathic), once they learn and observe that certain things in humans link to certain outcomes, they can even understand that us crying means we aren't happy but this takes far longer and more time than for most pets. Most pets instinctively realise that a loud voice means agitation or excitement, that when a human waves their hand and makes a noise they want the pet to approach and notice them etc, cats don't tend to realise this at first, they learn it because when they finally approach the person waving at them and the person stops and strokes them, they then and only then start to get a clue.

=====

Rebuking Con's Round 1

This is very weirdly defensive and absent of literally any strong points from my opponent. The case from my opponent is that I don't have one so let me reiterate my case stronger with proof. I have no idea what 'appeal to popularity' has to do with this debate but I really don't care. If my opponent wants to play dirty, I can play clean, it's just a case of setting out a strong case. 

I am going to actually start with something I didn't mention in Round 1; eye contact and combining this with the 'selectiveness to enjoy or hate touch'.

Cats immensely love long blinking and eye contact if they 100% trust their human/cat companion but they also have extreme aversion to prolonged eye contact otherwise, finding it a threat. Very aggressive cats will do a 'stare down' with other cats but they're a significant minority and even that is autistic in its own way but let's get to the point: autistic people are very averse to direct eye contact except with those they trust and enjoy, cats are identical and very few animals have both of these habits.

Similar to how cats are able to love and yet then hate the touch of someone, depending on their mood and liking of that person, they are the same with eye contact. A lot of people don't know this but one of the reasons cats tend to resent the type of people who stare at them in a friendly way and then reach out to stroke them is that they take eye contact as a threatening experience. Autistic people are similar, they feel 'watched' in a bad way if they don't trust or haven't really bonded with the person, a very common coping mechanism for autistic people is to learn to stare at the upper-nose of people or their forehead etc. Some learn to look back and forth (which is normal but not at the pace they're doing it) so that they do maintain some eye contact but not consistently throughout the conversation. What is unique about cats and why the behaviour is very similar to autism, is that while they're averse to it in general, with their particular bonded owner(s) and cats they trust, they can maintain prolonged eye contact and a very loving sign from a cat is long blinking between the eye contact without ever breaking the direction of where each is looking. If you look deep into a dog's eyes, they take it either as a sign you want them to move away or as a sign you want them to come towards you, this is much more normal for most animals actually and dogs understand humans the best pretty much. What cats do is often sit in the same spot if they are comfortable, not realising you want them to come towards you unless you give a signal, alternatively they will dislike it and if turning their head doesn't get you to stop looking at they they'll run away as they find it overstimulating (a theme throughout this debate will be overstimulation and how easily cats and autistic humans can find extreme parallels both in what triggers it and how they respond to it).

Violation. Many people (54 meaning units) described feelings of being violated when being looked at in the eyes, making them feel “overexposed,” fearing that others could “peer into their souls.”
It makes me feel naked, exposed. Weak if you will. It’s very uncomfortable.
One person likened being looked at in the eyes to that of being,
…raped on a spiritual level.
Someone else said,
If I find it too hard to give eye contact, it sometimes relates to not being comfortable making that connection with people. Forcing me to look at someone is forcing an intimacy that does, indeed, have a tone of violation.
Fear of conveying private information. Perhaps one reason eye contact was perceived as invasive to some is because it felt like an intrusion of privacy, or even unwanted solicitation of private information.
I talk so much with my eyes–people can read what I’m thinking and feeling, regardless of my body language and voice, just by looking in my eyes…I don’t like people knowing more about me than what I’m saying.
Relatedly, these feelings of conveying private information may come from a sense of shame, or fear of judgment.
I’m bad at ‘bluffing’: When I’m tired [or depressed]. I think that shows up in my eyes and is hard to hide…For as pleasant as I try to be, I know that to some extent, people can see through that and understand that I do have issues, whether it’s my social awkwardness, depression, etc., and my eyes are the express route to that understanding, which I do find intimidating, being a person who is private with his feelings in the first place and who does fear some degree of judgment.
Intimacy. Many people (56 meaning units) alluded to a belief that eye contact was considered a very intimate experience that is only appropriate with loved ones.
Maintaining eye contact feels waaaayyy [too] personal and intimate, and with someone I don’t know very well that can feel downright creepy.
Similarly, someone stated,
Eye contact is in inherently uncomfortable thing for me, that I can only achieve with those whom I have a degree of intimacy or trust with.


Energy Exertion
. Some people (13 meaning units) described eye contact as being exhausting, requiring an enormous exertion of energy.
For me [eye contact] feels like I’m using up a lot of energy. The longest I can stare at someone in the eye is from less than 2 to 6 seconds at the most. Then it gets tiring.
Another said that eye contact,
…saps my energy [from] my core like being hypnotized by a cold-blooded energy sucking vampire.
Audiovisual Integration. Many (81 meaning units) described difficulties processing audio and visual input simultaneously.
I can’t concentrate while making eye contact, particularly if I need to listen to what the other person is saying to me. It’s like I need to shut off the visual input in order to completely process the aural input.
Several people suggested that there are too many distracting features in the face to focus on anything else. Others said their mind just “shuts down” while making eye contact. One person noted a frustrating irony:
[If I] …don’t make eye contact…I’m able to concentrate on the conversation but people think I’m not [paying attention. If I do] make eye contact, I’m unable to concentrate on the conversation but people think I’m more attentive.
Besides concentrating on their conversational partner’s verbal messages, several meaning units indicated that eye contact interfered with their ability to generate thoughts and responses.
Eye contact interrupts the flow of my thoughts. It is as if the eye contact itself becomes the primary thing of which I am cognizant and thinking takes a back seat. Depending on the amount of mental effort required to maintain the conversation, eye contact can be very disruptive.

This is what humans who are on the autistic spectrum describe eye contact as.

"The findings demonstrate that, contrary to what has been thought, the apparent lack of interpersonal interest among people with autism is not due to a lack of concern," says Nouchine Hadjikhani, MD, PhD, director of neurolimbic research in the Martinos Center and corresponding author of the new study. "Rather, our results show that this behavior is a way to decrease an unpleasant excessive arousal stemming from overactivation in a particular part of the brain."

The key to this research lies in the brain's subcortical system, which is responsible for the natural orientation toward faces seen in newborns and is important later for emotion perception. The subcortical system can be specifically activated by eye contact, and previous work by Hadjikhani and colleagues revealed that, among those with autism, it was oversensitive to effects elicited by direct gaze and emotional expression. In the present study, she took that observation further, asking what happens when those with autism are compelled to look in the eyes of faces conveying different emotions.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Hadjikhani and colleagues measured differences in activation within the face-processing components of the subcortical system in people with autism and in control participants as they viewed faces either freely or when constrained to viewing the eye-region. While activation of these structures was similar for both groups exhibited during free viewing, overactivation was observed in participants with autism when concentrating on the eye-region. This was especially true with fearful faces, though similar effects were observed when viewing happy, angry and neutral faces.

The findings of the study support the hypothesis of an imbalance between the brain's excitatory and inhibitory signaling networks in autism -- excitatory refers to neurotransmitters that stimulate the brain, while inhibitory refers to those that calm it and provide equilibrium. Such an imbalance, likely the result of diverse genetic and environmental causes, can strengthen excitatory signaling in the subcortical circuitry involved in face perception. This in turn can result in an abnormal reaction to eye contact, an aversion to direct gaze and consequently abnormal development of the social brain.

In revealing the underlying reasons for eye-avoidance, the study also suggests more effective ways of engaging individuals with autism. "The findings indicate that forcing children with autism to look into someone's eyes in behavioral therapy may create a lot of anxiety for them," says Hadjikhani, an associate professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School. "An approach involving slow habituation to eye contact may help them overcome this overreaction and be able to handle eye contact in the long run, thereby avoiding the cascading effects that this eye-avoidance has on the development of the social brain."

Now, as for cats...

Humans love eye contact. It can make us feel appreciated, special, loved.

However, as it usually is with our cats, things aren’t that simple. Eye contact, which we view as friendly, our furry companions view as assertive or threatening.

But it makes sense if you think about a cat’s natural instinct.

Cats can be very self-conscious. When it realizes it’s being watched, the cat may assess the threat, and then return to whatever he was doing, but in a more self-conscious way. The direct eye contact intimidates your cat, which can make him uncomfortable.

Similarly, this is why cats try to out-stare each other to resolve conflicts. It’s a battle of the wills. That’s also why if two cats are fighting, it can help if you break their line of eye sight with a blanket or tray (never your body!). By cutting off their line of sight, they may become distracted and go on their way.

This may provide a glimmer of insight to why your cat may tend to approach non-cat people in a room. Just imagine it – you have a number of friends over, and your cat walks into the room.

Naturally, your friends who love your cat will likely look his way and call his name, an attempt to draw him close. However, that behavior, specifically the direct eye contact, may have the opposite effect. Your cat may view those actions as threatening, and instead approach someone who’s trying to ignore your cat. Since they’re not looking at your cat, it poses less of a threat. (Now you can explain it to your friends!)

That said, not all eye contact is bad. Some folks try “blink kissing” with their cats – blinking slowly and deliberately while staring directly at the cat. This break in eye contact is supposed to convey “I’m not threatening; you can trust me.” Some cats may even blink kiss back, others may become more self-aware by fluffing up or grooming.
Some claim that blink kissing can build a stronger bond between you and your cat, but I say you may want to take this with a grain of salt. One concern I hear now and again is that an owner’s cat doesn’t blink kiss back. I guarantee it’s not because your cat doesn’t love you, it’s most likely because he’d wish you’d cut back on the intimidating direct eye contact.
In fact, cats usually reserve their direct eye contact to things that they’re focusing on, such as a toy or dinner. Most of the time, a cat is paying attention to his surroundings via his incredible peripheral vision.

Eye Contact Between Cats
While humans make eye contact to show they’re interested and engaged in an interaction, cats consider a pair of locked eyes to mean something completely different. In cat language, prolonged eye contact is anything from a stern warning to a serious threat. It implies intimidation, and it’s almost never shared between friends. 
Cats are territorial and predatory. When your cat is approached by another cat they’re not completely comfortable with, the interaction could go one of two ways. If your kitty is the friendly, submissive type, she might try her best to avoid looking the newcomer in the eyes. This is her way of saying she comes in peace and doesn’t want any trouble. She hopes her new acquaintance will get the message and return the favor.
But if two cats are feeling feisty, territorial, or uncomfortable, they might not do each other the courtesy of averting their gazes. They won’t start an outright fight, but a staring contest will get their point across. Cats make eye contact when they want to send an assertive message. They’ll try and out stare each other as a way of establishing who’s in charge. The first cat to look away surrenders. And if the staring goes on for too long, it will eventually escalate to a physical altercation.



If you ever catch your cat making eye contact with another feline, it’s a good idea to try and distract them and redirect the situation. Pay attention to the body language coming from both competitors. If their bodies are tense and their hackles are raised, bad things are coming. Cat fights can cause serious injuries, so it’s best to avoid a confrontation if you can.
 
Special Exceptions for Special Humans
While cats do their best to not make eye contact with each other, you’ve probably noticed that eye contact can mean something completely different with humans. Cats have been by our sides for so long, they’ve learned to adopt some of our human behaviors. They’ve figured out that with humans, a staring contest doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. 
Some friendly kitties will make eye contact with their favorite humans as a way to show affection. If that ever happens to you, it’s good etiquette to offer your kitty a slow blink. A sleepy blink or wink is cat language for “I love you.”



Don’t assume, however, that this rule applies to all humans. A lot of cats are only comfortable making eye contact with their closest family members. If a guest comes over and tries to stare at them, there’s a good chance your cat will turn tail and flee. They prefer unfamiliar guests greet them with a peripheral glance rather than a direct stare. It’s more respectful and doesn’t suggest a rivalry. 
In most situations, cats don’t want to make eye contact with other cats. Two cats that live together but never make eye contact are probably the best of friends. They respect each other and never feel the need to threaten or dominate. But just because you catch two cats staring each other down, that doesn’t mean they’re bound to be enemies forever. Making eye contact can be a non-violent way to settle disputes. It helps cats determine status and set boundaries.

As I said in Round 1, stroking the cat and the cat letting you in proximity of itself is akin to eye contact; it dislikes it and finds it overwhelming unless it's decided it likes you enough to let you try.

The biggest similarity to all autistic people is probably that, it's to a T directly similar to how autistic people perceive and experience eye contact. The only thing cats have with it that isn't really there with autistic humans is that it's a territorial dominance thing who can stare-down the other without blinking for longer.

In the fight of cats vs dogs, the most common argument against cats is that they aren’t as affectionate as dogs. They are more aloof, indifferent and far less cuddle-loving than their canine counterparts. However, this may make the ideal pets for those who fall on the autism spectrum.

According to DailyMail, a recent study showed strong evidence of cats making better companions for kids with autism. “The “less intrusive glance” of cats, compared to the “long gazes” that dogs make, might align better with autistic children’s “social needs,” says Marine Grandgeorge at the University of Rennes in France.

They surveyed 42 children between the ages of 6 and 12, 19 of whom were neurotypical and 23 of whom were diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorders. Autism is a broad spectrum of developmental disorder with stunted social growth. Children with autism have trouble interacting with humans, or even socially friendly animals like dogs sometimes.

However, since cats avoid eye-contact and don’t hold long gazes (unlike dogs) they make be preferred by someone who has autism. This characteristic is non-threatening in nature, as something even as harmless as eye-contact can be overwhelming for those with Autism.

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Routine and keeping track of owner's habits

Other pets are known to at times put together the visual, auditory and/or smell-based stimuli that lead to events like their owner putting on a coat and soon leaving the house, to their owner rustling with a bag and it being the bag that has their pet food. Cats do this as well, however they're less adept at directly doing it that way because both they aren't very socially intuitive and secondly because they have a far better way of tracking things; time.

When I say time, I really genuinely mean time. Cats have an incredible capacity despite not perceiving clocks/watches, to compare the sunlight's pacing during a day and estimating when it is in the day vs their feeding times, the owner returning or leaving for work etc. This is so significant that sometimes if a cat is very emotional it will memorise when an owner leaves for school and walk with them to the bus to say goodbye:


^ This is recent, the cat didn't even have a school bus as part of its routine at first (it was young) but had grown so attached to the girl (it must see her as its 'primary human' or at least secondary, cats tend to pick 1 or 2 in a household they hold as their true human companion) and despite her learning from home during covid lockdown, it began to miss her so bad that it learned to memorise when she went to her bus and what the video doesn't show but I have no doubt at all is that it will memorise approximately when she returns each day.

There is a machine available to release pet food at set intervals throughout the day, it is ideal for people who aren't home and have pets that tend to not pace themselves when they eat and want to release portions enough for a meal at a time. 

Something like this:

And yes, it's available for dogs too and other creatures I'm sure. However, the other pets do not have the habit to totally be away from the device not looking at it much at all but running towards it within minutes of it being about to release food. 

I don't know a way to prove this except for silly tiktoks and instagram memes of it so I will stick to that. They aren't faked, what's said is real but yes it's made for views and lols.


To be clear, the feeder does make a beep when it releases food (or a sound specifically designed to remind the cats if they forgot that it's there) but these memes and tiktoks etc show the cat  in that clip turning up at 11:12 (they aren't perfect at telling time) for an 11:30 automatic release and getting agitated with the owner (or perhaps catsitter) that the food isn't being released on time. This level of anticipation and sure 18 minutes inaccuracy but only 18, is so unique to cats that to even fathom it happening for another pet animal is near-inconceivable. Other animals simply just get a gist of the daylight vs night time and go by general stimuli (like the beeping) cats can even be running around way outside the house and have memorised the routine. 

Let's give some more clips of it to show it's not a one-off event:


This is without it being automated, some seemingly feral cats have memorised a person who regularly gives them a morning meal (bad habit, be careful to start doing this to cats that are wild):


More important than their capacity to memorise is is their obsession with it. They love routine, they love repetition. Obviously they're intelligent vs most non-cat pets and needs a lot of mental stimulation but when I say they like routine and repetition it doesn't imply simplicity, just comfort. They can handle chaos, they just don't enjoy too much (overstimulation, a common theme). 

Cats are creatures of habits who thrive on routine. Most cats will have a set pattern they follow every day. Cats are territorial animals, so their routines will develop around your schedule and your household routines. While such a routine driven life may seem boring to humans, it helps cats feel safe and confident. In fact, routines are so important to cats that having them disrupted can even impact their physical health.

Changes in routine can make cats sick
study conducted at the Ohio State University, funded by the National Institutes of Health, looked at how stress affects cats. Of the 32 cats in the study, twelve of the cats were healthy, and twenty had FIC (feline interstitial cystitis), an often painful, inflammatory condition of the bladder and urinary tract. Researchers  found that when they changed the cats’ environment or their daily routines, even the healthy cats got sick 1.9 times a week and the others twice a week. Levels returned to normal when the stress had passed.

Keep your routine consistent
The best way to keep your cats happy and healthy is to keep their routine, and yours, as consistent as possible. If you have to make changes, try to introduce them gradually. Something that may not seem like a big change to you, such as a vacation or a house guest, may be a very big deal to your cat.

A 2011 study conducted by Ohio State University and published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association showed how easily even healthy cats can get sick when they experience minor shifts in their daily routines.
 
The conclusion of the study about cats’ intolerance of change wasn’t something the researchers started out looking for. They were actually studying a particular chronic disease called interstitial cystitis (IC). IC causes bladder pain in cats, and cats suffering from IC pee more frequently than normal.
 
Owners of cats with this persistent problem were struggling to deal with the illness: their cats were vomiting, not eating, and peeing and pooping outside of their litter boxes. Many of the owners were considering euthanasia because there are no good treatments for the disease.
 
Ohio State took in 20 of these IC cats, plus 12 other healthy cats. Responsibility for caring for the cats fell to one particular researcher, a doctoral candidate named Judi Stella. She wanted to make sure the cats were happy and getting their needs met, so she set up an enriched indoor environment for them and established a strict feeding/cleaning/play schedule.
 
And after a while she noticed that all the sick cats started to look well. Their coats were shiny and their eyes were clear. They stopped vomiting and missing the litter box.
 
Stella continued to care for the cats for almost a year and a half. During that time, some things changed due to circumstance: for example, if Stella went on vacation the cats got fed by another caretaker. Sometimes the researchers changed something on purpose, like feeding the cats at a later time.
 
What they noticed was that when the cats’ routine changed, sick and healthy cats had an almost equal number of incidents of vomiting, refusing to eat, or litter-box problems. In other words, no cats – not sick cats, not healthy cats – do well when things in their environment change.
 
Tony Buffington, professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Ohio State, and author of the study said that what we tend to think of as “normal” for cats is not normal, like frequently vomiting hairballs. “There is not another mammal on the planet that wouldn’t be hospitalized for throwing up once a week,” he said. He was effectively saying that behaviors we’ve come to expect from our cats are a result of stress.

Cats love, need and adore routine. Do autistic people do that? Yes and like cats, it goes beyond just routine.

“Reality to an autistic person is a confusing, interacting mass of events, people, places, sounds and sights... Set routines, times, particular routes and rituals all help to get order into an unbearably chaotic life. Trying to keep everything the same reduces some of the terrible fear.” 
Jolliffe (1992) in Howlin (2004), p.137. 
The world can seem a very unpredictable and confusing place to autistic people, who often prefer to have a daily routine so that they know what is going to happen every day. They may want to always travel the same way to and from school or work, or eat exactly the same food for breakfast. 
Rules can be very important for some autistic people.  It may be difficult for an autistic person to take a different approach to something once they have been taught the 'right' way to do it. 
Sometimes minor changes such as moving between two activities, can be distressing; for others big events like holidays, starting or changing school, moving house or Christmas, which create change and upheaval, can cause anxiety. 
Some autistic people have daily timetables so that they know what is going to happen, when. However, the need for routine and sameness can extend beyond this. You might see: 
  • changes to the physical environment (such as the layout of furniture in a room), or the presence of new people or absence of familiar ones, being difficult to manage 
  • rigid preferences about things like food (only eating food of a certain colour), clothing (only wearing clothes made from specific fabrics), or everyday objects (only using particular types of soap or brands of toilet paper) 
  • a need for routine around daily activities such as meals or bedtime. Routines can become almost ritualistic in nature, followed precisely and with attention paid to the tiniest details 
  • verbal rituals, with a person repeatedly asking the same questions and needing a specific answer 
  • compulsive behaviour, for example a person might be constantly washing their hands or checking locks. This does not necessarily mean they have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)  but if you are concerned about this, speak to your GP in the first instance. 
People's dependence on routines can increase during times of change, stress or illness and may even become more dominant or elaborate at these times. 
Unexpected changes are often most difficult to deal with. Autistic people may not be comfortable with the idea of change, but may be able to manage it better if they can prepare for changes in advance.

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Cats and their 'trainability'

You can train cats to a degree but unlike other trainable pets, there's a huge obstacle with cats; they don't grasp context.

To train cats requires a lot of repeated rewarding vs ignoring for behaviours you desire vs don't desire. Cats are very capable of understanding reactions vs stimuli but they don't always know what is linking to what. If you are clearly agitated, they don't know or care unless they realise explicitly that it's them causing it.

A cat doesn't realise it's annoying even another cat until the cat makes it obvious. Similarly, cats can instinctively know that since humans stroke out of affection, the cat learns to use its tongue and body to not just 'mark territory' (glands behind the ears actually mark you with its scent) but also show love. The thing is, they may realise that but not realise we want it. Unless you are lying on the floor unhappy, the cat isn't going to realise you want assistance. If you don't act super excited, they don't realise you approve.
Con
Kittens whose parents are more social towards humans will themselves be more social towards humans than kittens who do not have social parents. This is most certainly not true with humans with autism. Autistic children with social parents are not generally more social towards other humans than other autistic children because autism is heavily influenced by our genetic makeup. https://www.autismspeaks.org/science-news/autism-genetic-study-finds-80-risk-inherited-genes One would expect that if all cats can be diagnosed with autism disorder, then their social skill level (towards humans) would not be based on their parents skill level, but they are. 

The development of autistic behaviors in humans is not typical at all. Some children show signs of autism as soon as they begin developing their social behaviors, while other children begin to display signs of autism only after they appeared to be developing completely normal for several years. But the development of the social skills of kittens is absolutely typical for all normally developing kittens. Kittens do not develop normal social skills towards humans at a very early age, and then suddenly become anti-social cats, unless they have been subjected to a traumatizing event. Autism in humans does not stem from traumatizing events. 



The reasons for these disparities in the development of kittens and autistic children is simple and obvious. Autism is a disorder that affects humans, while the behaviors of cats are evolutionary behaviors that do not derive from autism.    

Dogs are generally considered to have more personality than cats, and although I find that to be untrue, the truth is, dogs have been developing human social skills for possibly as much as 30,000 years longer than cats. My opponents argument is indicative of the fact that cats simply have not had nearly as long as dogs to develop human social skills to be able to interact with humans as easily as dogs can.  



My opponent will simply only be able to continue to demonstrate how cats behavior, and the behaviors of autistic people seem to be similar, but my opponent will at no point be able to bridge the gap between the diagnosable disorder known as autism to the observable behaviors of cats. My opponents proposal is nothing more than anthropomorphic observations of an animal humans do not have the qualia to understand enough to access whether they actually do have the diagnosable disorder known as autism.

Now that I've brought in the objective evidence which demonstrably shows us that the developmental social skills of kittens differ greatly from the development of autism in humans, my argument has cleared the hurdle of demonstrating that cat behavior is not derived from the human disorder known as autism. So my argument is no longer based on the simple reasoning that since we don't have the qualia to understand cats, then we cannot know whether they do not have autism, but now my argument has been elevated to a truth based argument which demonstrates that the behaviors of cats CANNOT be derived from the human disorder known as autism.        
Round 3
Pro
This is the strangest Kritik my opponent could have taken and is an entirely new angle from the earlier Round, he has basically ignored all my points so I won't bother proving the rest and instead directly tackle the issue.

What my opponent is saying is that the difference between feral cats vs domesticated cats is to do with how early the young cats were exposed to humans. It is also true that it can help (but is 0% necessary) for the mother cat to be present and accepting of what occurs. You could literally take the young away from their mother (or away from a deceased mother) that had barely raised them and condition them to be non-feral.

What my topic was about was not that cats cannot get along with humans. Autistic people can get along with humans if they aren't super intense in the spectrum (regardless of how high-functioning).

Cats that are friendly with humans are called 'domesticated' and cats that are completely averse to humans due to having been raised away from them (regardless of cat-parenting-style/quality) are referred to as 'feral'.

Is this literally my opponent's case?

Does my opponent, just to be clear, not realise that you can much better raise an autistic child vs much worse raise one to integrate with others depending on how well you undertand the condition and the individual and that can have a very positive vs negative effect on their developed social tendencies respectively?


Those that had parents who understood how to integrate them without overdoing and overforcing the 'normality' and frequency of extroversion onto the autistic children grow to have a much easier time handling the split between their autistic (or to make the metaphor work 'catlike') nature, those that were either left to totally isolate or had nothing but negative overstimulating experiences with socialising end up much more innately preferring to keep to themselves and be weary/hostile to people.

That's actually just plainly obvious, you don't even need to be a psychiatrist to realise that, I would presume. That's got nothing to do with the peculiarities of cats and how they have so many tendencies and flaws vs strengths when compared with other pet animals as people/humans with autism do when compared with other humans.
Con
My critique of my opponents argument does take into consideration that people who have a better understanding of autism can integrate their autistic children better than those who do not have a better understanding. But that's not the central point of my critique. The point that is being made is that cats who are social toward humans because they've been domesticated for their entire life will have kittens who are more social towards humans. This is indicative of conditioning rather than a disorder. To highlight that point, I've pointed to how human parents who are more social do not have any less of an occurrence of having autistic children than non-social parents. If cats behavior and autism were the same condition, then we would see less prevalence of autistic children among social parents just like in cats, but we don't. The prevalence of autism among social parents is not any lower.   

My opponent tried to dismantle my critique by pointing out that someone who has a better understanding of autism can integrate their children better than someone who does not, but having a better understanding of autism is not based on how social of a person you are. A more social parent who has little knowledge of autism will not be able to integrate their children better than a non-social person with a high understanding of autism. This is indicative of a disorder in humans rather than conditioning. This should be universal with cats and humans if what cats have is the disorder known as autism, but it is not. Cats most certainly do have better social skills towards humans based on their parents social skill level towards humans. This is a gaping hole in my opponents argument.    


The other aspect of my critique was that kittens social skill levels develop normally and universally. But when it comes to humans with autism, the development of their social skill level is not at all universal. Some children show signs of autism as soon as they begin developing their social behaviors, while others can seem to be developing completely normal for several years, only to hit a brick wall and stop developing normal social skills, and even digress and begin to lose any social skills they had developed before they hit that brick wall. That is indicative of a disorder in humans with autism, but with cats, their normal time frame of development is indicative of a normal process of development.

 





           
Round 4
Pro
It is not a Kritik to say that I have to prove the resolution true. I did that. At this point I don't know what more to say.
Con
Forfeited