If you own a cat, you would already know she spends a good part of her day napping and relaxing. So, it is perfectly normal to see your cat sleeping all day. As they have a reputation for being nappers, it is not unusual to assume they sleep a peaceful slumber. But oftentimes, things may take a different turn when you witness your feline fellow becoming stressed in her sleep. Seeing your adorable furball go through something frightening while she is asleep can be stressful, to say the least.
As a concerned pet parent, you may get worried and wonder why is your cat acting weird all of a sudden. Chances are, you may even head to a vet’s clinic to ask why my cat keeps having bad dreams? What can I do to make my cat sleep peacefully? By the way, yes, cats do dream!
In our article, we have comprehensively addressed the sleep-related issues a feline may go through. So read on to understand more about your feline fellow’s sleep cycle and why she may become frightened and twitch, growl, or howl when she is asleep?
My Cat Keeps Having Bad Dreams—Why Does This Happen?
Sleep Foundation tells us cats experience REM sleep cycles just like us humans. In an article about Cat Sleep Cycle, it is noted that “similar to humans, cats cycle through different stages of sleep. Cats experience both non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Research shows that cats often experience a period of alertness and activity before becoming drowsy and then falling into NREM sleep.”
From this research, it is clear that cats also experience the REM cycle, and it is during this cycle that cats dream.
But we don’t know for sure why a cat has bad dreams and nightmares. There is only anecdotal evidence that suggests that, like humans, cats too can have nightmares.
It is not scientifically proven that cats have nightmares. But from seeing them twitch and tremble while they are asleep, it is evident they get frightened when they are sleeping.
Signs That Show Your Cat is Having a Nightmare:
Cats sleep peacefully, but when they have a bad dream, they may act differently than usual. So, it is better to know how they act when they are having a nightmare. Below are some of the signs a cat exhibits when she is distressed while asleep.
- Rapid breathing or panting
- Howling or crying
- Face distortion
- Face twitching
- Twitching of the limbs
- Thumping her tail
- Pupils move rapidly behind closed eyelids
Dealing with Night Terrors:
What I can do if my cat keeps having bad dreams? How can I help her?
Now that we know why a cat has bad dreams, it is important to find ways to help your cat feel relaxed. Whenever you witness your cat having a nightmare, you can do the following to help your furball feel calm.
· Don’t Try to Wake Her Up
Although you would desperately want to wake your feline from her bad dream, it is recommended not to do so. As a cat is having a nightmare, she would wake up confused and disoriented from her sleep. She wouldn’t be able to differentiate between a dream and reality for a few seconds. Thus, in such scenarios, she may end up becoming defensive and attack, scratch, or even bite you without realizing who you are.
So, it is never a good idea to wake up your sleeping furball, even if she exhibits the signs of being distressed or terrified.
· Ensure She is Safe
Your furry fellow would twitch and jerk while she has a bad dream, and she may fall off a sofa or her cat tree where she is dozing off. Thus, you need to keep a close eye on her to ensure she doesn’t get hurt. It is important to mention here that she may wake up startled and confused and attack you in her confusion. So you shouldn’t get too close to her while she is having a nightmare. Observe her from a safe distance, so she doesn’t attack you when she wakes up.
· Pet Her Gently
As your furball would be scared and terrified from her bad dream, you should pet her gently to calm her down. Comfort her with extra love and calming words to make her realize she is safe now and doesn’t need to be afraid of anything. If possible, offer her some cat treats to make her feel better.
· Make Her Warm
Another thing you can do to make her feel comfortable after she wakes up from a bad dream is to make her warm. When a cat is having a bad dream, her body temperature falls, which makes her tremble. Thus, you should offer her a blanket or hot water bottle to bring her body temperature back to normal and also to comfort her.
· Allow Her to Sleep Again
If your cat exhibits signs that she wants to go back to sleep, let her do so. By being awake due to a bad dream, it is possible she didn’t rest completely, which can subsequently make her agitated and anxious. So, allowing her to sleep again would make her well-rested, and she would wake up feeling happy and calm.
· Provide Her with Stress-Free Environment:
While your feline fellow is awake, try to provide her with a stress-free environment so she is calm and relaxed. Shower her with love and attention to make her feel loved. Don’t abandon or ignore her as this would make her feel lonely and distressed.
So we hope with our detailed article, we answered your query “what to do if my cat keeps having bad dreams?” Like other mammals, a cat too experiences the REM sleep cycle, and it is perfectly normal to have dreams during that period. Although there is no scientific study to base these assumptions, there is enough anecdotal evidence to prove that cats do have nightmares and bad dreams. By observing your cat while she sleeps, it is clear from the body movements that she is seeing something unpleasant in her dream.