Do Cats Dream? (And What Do They Dream About?)
There is nothing a cat loves more than a leisurely cat nap in the sun. Seasoned cat owners may have noticed that their cats tend to twitch while they sleep as if they are chasing after a mouse in their dreams.
With the frequency your favorite kitty takes a cat nap, you have to wonder if your cat is actually having dreams while they sleep? Or is your cat blissfully unaware of the world while they sleep their days away.
Do Cats Dream?
The short answer: Yes.
Whether it’s day or night, your cat has the potential to dream while they sleep, just like dogs, humans, and other mammals. But how do dreams occur?
When a cat, human, or dog goes to sleep, they undergo short cycles of REM and non-REM sleep. REM sleep (short for rapid eye movement) is a phase where the eye experiences many quick and random movements under the eyelid. This is the stage of sleep where we experience dreams.
According to experts, a cat’s brain undergoes patterns of brain activity with similar patterns to that of REM sleep. This means that cats are capable of dreaming.
However, just because your cat has their eyes closed, it does not mean they are sleeping. Cats enjoy taking rest periods throughout the day when they are stationary but not snoozing. In this state, they are acutely aware of their surroundings and are ready at any moment to attack potential prey or defend themselves against aggressors.
Why Do Cats Twitch In Their Sleep?
A sleeping cat may jerk their legs as if they are running or flex their paws like they want to knead. Are their dreams so vivid that they are acting them out in the real world?
Potentially, yes. Just like humans, cats can move during REM sleep, though the movements are limited.
However, there are potentially other causes for a cat to twitch in their sleep: muscle spasms, irritations, and seizures.
Muscle spasms are common among all animals, and are typically non-indicative of any harmful medical condition. Just as humans sometimes jerk or experience a spasm when entering a sleep phase (sometimes referred to as sleep start), so too can cats also experience random spasms.
However, your cat’s jerks can also be a sign of physical discomfort from skin allergies and fleas. This is uncommon, as a cat experiencing discomfort would wake up to scratch and groom themselves or move away from the irritant.
Finally, your cat could be twitching in their sleep due to seizures.
Seizures often appear as full-body convulsions that result in muscle contractions, head shaking, involuntary urination and defection, or drooling. However, small seizures can appear as understated as normal twitching.
Seizures often last two or three minutes. Your cat may be experiencing seizures if they experience:
- nervousness or confusion upon waking
- shivers or body stiffness
- Loss of awareness or lucidity
- Excessive drooling
- Fall to one side
If you expect your cat to be experiencing seizures, take them to the vet immediately to be examined. They could be suffering from toxicity or an underlying health condition.
Do Cats Dream Of Electric Mice?
For humans, dreams are a means of processing information, forming memories, and understanding new experiences. While we can’t know for sure if dreams function the same way for cats, we can assume they do.
Most likely, a cat dreams are based on their everyday experiences. This may mean that their dreams include their fellow littermates, their favorite toy, and even you.