Do Cats Dream?

Ever observed kungfu meow-moves while your cat sleeps?

Do Cats Dream?

As we all know that humans regularly dream during their sleep, it was unclear if animals dream! Then scientists monitored the brains of rats while awake and performing tasks such as running around tracks for food. They then compared the rats’ brain activity while asleep and discovered exactly the same patterns as rats showed while performing their tasks. This indicated that rats were indeed dreaming. In fact, it is likely that all mammals dream.

Most pet parents will swear that their cats definitely do. They have seen their pets’ paws twitching while they sleep, so what else could it be, if not a dream?

How Do Cats Dream?

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Humans and cats undergo very similar sleep patterns. When both species fall asleep, they undergo a series of light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep, after which we usually either wake up or start a new cycle. The largest difference is that a full cycle for us takes about 90 minutes; for cats, it takes only 22 minutes.

REM sleep stands for “rapid eye movement” sleep, named so because our eyeballs move rapidly during this phase.  Humans have dreams during REM sleep. So, because cats have REM sleep so it is suggested that cats’ must have dreams during that phase of there sleep. After all, humans and cats are not that different—we are all mammals, we have similar internal organs, and our brains function alike. It has also been found that the electrical activity pattern in a sleeping cat’s brain is remarkably similar to that of a sleeping human’s.

What Do Cats Dream About?

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Guessing the topic of cat’s dreams is a bit harder. We cannot assume that moving paws indicate a sleeping cat is dreaming about running. The mechanics of dreams characterizes them as a thinking process with some regions of the brain deactivated, mostly those responsible for movements and consciousness. This suggests that paw movements and eye movements must be initiated by a mechanism different from one that’s associated with running. Thus, it must be a reflexive response to brain activity.

Guessing the topic of our pets’ sleep is also complicated because we cannot project our dreams on them, either. Our thinking process is subtly different from theirs. We often dream about something we know, have experienced, that we want, or that we are afraid of. We also often dream about things we have thought about a few minutes before we fall asleep.

Obviously, cat’s minds aren’t preoccupied with serial killers or the political beliefs etc. They also do not plan their future and probably aren’t wondering how the universe began. Most probably they might dream simple things such as owners, daily activities, favourite food items and cat games.

Updated: September 21, 2017.

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