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Do Cats Dream? What Are They Thinking About When They Dream?

cat sleeping on couch

It’s no secret that one of your feline’s most beloved hobbies is snoozing, but do they dream? It turns out that human beings aren’t the only creatures on the planet whose subconscious goes wild when they’re asleep. In fact, all mammals have the capability of dreaming.

Thanks to science, we have discovered a little bit about different animals and their sleep patterns and behaviors. Our feline friends can dream along with many other mammals. So, it is very possible that your cat dreams and dreams often.

hepper single cat paw divider

Do Cats Dream?

It is hard to tell exactly what passes through a cat’s mind when they’re dreaming. One could suppose their dreams would be just as unpredictable and random as some of ours. However, like human beings, cats cannot achieve a dream state unless they are experiencing REM sleep.

When REM sleep finally hits, your cat can dream of mouse chasing, affectionate petting, and their lady or gentleman friend down the street. Pinning down exactly what they dream might be challenging, but it is scientifically suggested that they do dream based on their sleep movements and body language.

Scientifically, it can’t be proven entirely that cats dream. But it is highly likely based on their physical movements during REM sleep.

tabby cat sleeping in a ball position on a cat tree
Image Credit: Doris Metternich, Pixabay

What Is REM Sleep?

REM stands for rapid eye movement. When you are asleep, this is the stage where you might see your cat’s eyes fluttering and fluttering or otherwise moving around rapidly. REM sleep is a very deep sleep where the body is fully at rest.

Stages of REM Sleep
  • Stage One: in between sleep and wakefulness
  • Stage Two: light sleep
  • Stage Three: deep sleep

REM sleep usually begins roughly 90 minutes after your body is asleep. It isn’t until the brain reaches this state that the scenery changes. Once your cat’s body enters the deep stages of REM sleep, your cat’s body does amazing things.

When the brain is in this state, it allows the body to repair itself accordingly. It builds up muscle strength, regrows tissue, and strengthens immunity. This stage of sleep is absolutely necessary for the overall wellbeing of your kitty—and yourself.

Not only does the body regenerate itself during REM sleep, but this is also the stage when the brain is the most active. Your cat might make vocalizations, fidget, and have flickering eyes when they are dreaming. This is quite common and easy to recognize.

REM sleep is a must if you want to dream. So, when your cat is dead asleep, they can also be very much mentally alive in a dream world all their own.

calico cat sleeping
Image Credit: biglinker, Pixabay

Do Cats Have Nightmares?

Not only do cats have the capability of dreaming—they can also have nightmares. Whether they’re dreaming of getting chased by some predator or about the food bowl being empty, they are just as capable of exhibiting stress when they sleep.

We can’t expect everything to be rainbows and butterflies—even our kitties express themselves negatively when they sleep. Consider these bad dreams practice for the real thing.

Nightmares are often a stress response, which might, in turn, train them for real life-threatening situations. It’s hard to say for sure, but if a mammal dreams of pleasantries, one could also assume they also have an occasional negative experience while in slumber.

hepper cat paw divider

Cats + Dreams: Final Thoughts

The next time your kitty is snuggled in their favorite napping spot, and you see them twitching or making noise—take a second to consider what they might see. Even though it can’t be entirely proven that cats dream, science is on your side.

It’s hard to tell what kind of shenanigans they get into in their dream state. But we can all agree that if it’s anything like the mischief they get into awake—it’s probably quite a scene.


Featured Image Credit: Sabri Tuzcu, Unsplash

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