Do you love watching your cat sleep—looking so relaxed and peaceful? During sleep, has your cat been twitching her whiskers and batting her paws at something, maybe an invisible toy? Is it a dream? Do cats dream? If yes, what do cats dream about? Do cats dream about their owners? Do cats have nightmares?
Cat Sleeps All Day
It is no secret that cats love to sleep. They are good—really good—at sleeping. The average sleep time of a cat is around fifteen hours, but some of our feline friends may sleep up to twenty hours a day. Having an average sleep of around 7 hours a day, cat owners may get envious of their cats’ sleep time, especially when they are sleep-deprived.
Cats are designed differently from us humans. Where humans are diurnal, cats are crepuscular. Cats are most active during twilight—at dusk and dawn. In the wild, they need to hunt and forage for their food. Therefore, they have to conserve energy by sleeping to make a good run to catch prey or escape from predators themselves.
Do Cats Dream?
Yes, cats dream!
We know that humans dream but the study of cat dreaming is a bit difficult. We cannot go ask our cat if she had a dream today, or what she dreamed about. However, with time, science has substantiated that almost all mammals, including cats and dogs, have similar brain structures and brain activity during sleep. Now we can say that dreaming is probably universal—at least in mammals.
When Do Cats Dream?
We cannot exactly say when do cats dream, but the probability of dreaming is higher in some stages of sleep than in others. There is rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. The chances of dreaming are higher during the former sleep stage, but a cat may still dream during the non-REM stage. However, the dreams during REM sleep will be more detailed, lengthy, and imaginative than those during non-REM sleep, which will be quite short and just a replay of activities done earlier in the day.
REM Sleep in Cats?
Just like humans, our feline friends also experience REM and non-REM sleep. And again, just like humans, during this sleep stage, cats also become atonic—they lose their muscle strength. This is the reason that humans and cats are unable to act out their dreams. During this stage, the brain is still active and functioning, but the body is sleeping—fully relaxed.
As compared to humans, sleep stages are shorter in felines. During sleep, where humans experience REM sleep every 90 minutes, cats experience it every 25 minutes. Meaning that cats go through REM sleep stage three times more frequently than humans. This, in turn, means that cats can experience REM sleep even during their cat naps.
Do Younger Cats Dream More Than Senior Cats?
Yes, the younger cats dream more than their adult and senior counterparts.
As the brains of younger cats are in the developing phase, they require more time to process new information, so they spend more time in REM sleep than older cats. As the duration of REM sleep decreases with age, it is assumed that young kittens have more dreams than their elder counterparts. This also means that younger cats have much more to learn about the world around them.
What Do Cats Dream About?
Ok, our furry friends do dream, but about what? Do cats dream about their owners, or do they dream about food or playing with their owners?
Well, we cannot say precisely what our feline friends are dreaming about—unlike humans, cats cannot articulate their dreams. However, as with humans, cats also process their daytime activities during their sleep, which are often relived during REM sleep stage.
Do Cats Dream About Eating?
Cats are born hunters. Even after being domesticated, they have kept their hunting instincts intact. If you have ever played with red laser light with your cat, you will know how their natural hunting instincts are activated by the moving light. Given their natural prey drive, most probably cats are dreaming about chasing prey or their favorite toy.
Do Cats Dream About Their Owners?
Probably! There is nothing in this world that cats care more for than spending quality time with their owners. If you have been giving your cat ample time, they are probably reliving those precious moments that they spent with you during their deep sleep stage.
Do Cats Have Nightmares?
Humans have bad dreams. Can cats have bad dreams as well?
Have you ever observed your cat jolt waking from a deep sleep—showing signs of distress, chronic anxiety, fear, and trauma? Probably your cat just had a nightmare or relived a traumatic memory of their life.
Just like human dreams are not always pleasant, our cats may also have bad dreams. Similarly, not all of their dreams need to be based on real experiences.
Never Wake a Sleeping Cat
If you think your cat is having a bad dream and is making odd sounds and twitching her whiskers and batting her paws, you must be thinking of waking her up—putting an end to her nightmare.
Not so wise!
Being suddenly awakened, your cat will be startled. Thus may attack you, scratch you, or bite you. So never wake up your cat, even if you think that she is having a bad dream. Just let her go through it and when the kitty is awake, give her some extra love.
Do Cats Dream in Color?
Science and vets are not really sure if cats can dream in color. But as it has been established that cats can see colors, albeit limited and washed out. If they can see colors, why would they be dreaming in black and white?
Why Do Cats Dream?
Cats are very composed and organized creatures with an impressive memory, especially long-term memory. Dreaming lets them organize their thoughts and relive the moments which further strengthen their memory.
Having learned the answer to “do cats dream,” maybe now you want to figure out on your own that what your cat is dreaming about.
Next time you see your cat in a deep sleep, having entered the kitty dreamland, think of all activities your cat did that day. Maybe, you can figure out what pleasant memory of the day she is reliving.