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Do Cats Dream? What Cat Owners Need to Know

Considering how much time cats spend asleep it seems reasonable that they would have dreams. Cats sleep 15 hours a day on average – twice as much as human beings. Cats need sleep to quickly restore their energy and get ready for the next hunt. Whilst domesticated cats don’t need to or can’t hunt they are still wired to do this.

Also, sleep is critical for cats to survive and be in good health. Essentially cats sleep for the same reasons that humans do. So let’s find out – Do Cats Dream Too?

white cat asleep in human bed with coffee


Do Cats Dream – Cat Sleeping Cycle

Cats experience two different sleeping stages.

1. REM Sleep

Like humans, cats are most likely to dream in the REM sleep stage. Although your cat is asleep in this stage, you may well see your cat twitching parts of its body or even squeaking. The twitching is caused by signals being sent to their brains during this phase.

Body movement is shut off during this sleeping phase. Even if your kitty’s paws are twitching they aren’t going to make a move in this stage of sleep.

two white kittens half asleep next to each other

2. Deep Sleep

If your cat isn’t in REM sleep they are in deep sleep. Deep sleep is when your body restores.

Dreams that occur during REM sleep tend to be longer, more creative and more detailed. Non-REM dreams are more likely to be shorter re-enactments of the day.

The short answer to the question Do Cats Dream is Yes. A study was conducted by Michael Jouvet in the 1960s showed that cats experience REM as humans do. Therefore it is very likely that they also dream.

In the study, Jouvet proved that cats have a similar low voltage of electrical activity in their brains as well as the twitching and relaxed muscles associated with REM sleep.

Cat’s sleep cycles are shorter than that of humans. Cats experience REM sleep three times more often than humans. They enter REM stages every 25 minutes whilst humans enter REM stages every 90 minutes. So your cat may be dreaming even when they are having a short nap.

All mammals have fairly similar brain structures so it is likely that dreaming is universal.

white cat curled up asleep next to laptop

Why do Cats Dream?

The general wisdom is that cats dream for the same reason as all mammals. Sleeping helps us to process experiences and information. Dreams help us process emotions and form memories. Stories in dreams are often odd but the activities in most dreams are normally fairly standard.

tabby kitten asleep on a stool

What do Cats Dream About?

Several studies have been done about what cats may dream about.

  1. Hunting – veterinarian Adrian Morrison did a study that observed that cats often move their heads when they are in the REM sleep stage as if they are watching or tracking something. And we know that our felines love to hunt in play and reality.
  2. Their day – studies of dog dreams indicate that they dream about what has happened during the day – everything from playing with their owners to contact with other animals or humans or time spent cuddling. Cats often use sleep to recall and organize the events of their day.
tabby cat asleep with paws outstretched do cats dream

How do you know if your cat is dreaming?

It is common to believe that your cat is dreaming if it is twitching or making slight movements in its sleep. However, this is not ture. The most significant indication of a cat dreaming is when its body is in a completely relaxed and slack position.

tabby cat asleep with paw over eye

Do cats have nightmares or bad dreams?

There is no clear evidence to support that cats have nightmares or bad dreams. However, I am sure that we have all observed that sometimes our cats wake up startled or fearful. Like humans, animals need to process stress and trauma and nightmares are a way of doing this.

If your cat is twitching or making little movements whilst asleep it is generally best not to wake it up. Firstly this is quite intrusive for your cat. Secondly, your cat may well bite or scratch you as they will be acting on a defensive impulse as they wake.

numerous cats asleep in a basket

Do Cats Sleep Well?

Again, like their owners, cats may have trouble sleeping and reaching that all-important REM stage. Cats can suffer from insomnia as well as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition that affects breathing whilst your cat is asleep so it keeps its nervous system on high alert.

If you think your cat is having problems sleeping do speak with your vet. Extra time spent playing may help as well as having a larger meal close to bedtime.

grey cat asleep in odd position

Do Cats Snore?

Yes. Cats don’t snore as frequently as dogs but it still happens. Overweight cats are more likely to snore as extra fat accumulates around their neck. You may also have noticed that cats have some crazy sleeping positions and certain positions may result in snoring.

Certain cat breeds are more likely to snore. Flat faced cat breeds like Persians and Himalayas are more prone to snoring due to the structure of their faces.

ginger kitten asleep on cat tower

7 Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do Cats dream in colour?

    Cats don’t see colours in the same way that humans do. They see muted shads of colours like blue and green. So it is most likely that they do dream in colour but in the same muted colours which they see during the day.

2. Why do Cats Cry in Their Sleep?

Like babies, cats crying in their sleep usually want food, water or attention. Or they may be bored as they are not sufficiently tired from their day. Also, female cats will cry when they are in heat.

3. Do Kittens Dream?

Yes. The amount of REM sleep a cat has decreases as it gets older suggesting that older cats dream less than younger cats. Therefore it is assumed that kittens dream more than older cats. This may well be due to the fact that kittens are receiving far more new information and stimulus each day and therefore have more to process. Also, their brains are developing quickly.

4. Is my Cat having a dream or a seizure?

Seizures are unlikely to happen when your cat is asleep. Also, seizures have more physical signs than just twitching which owners would see when their cat was awake. These signs include lethargy, loss of appetite or vomiting or general body stiffness. If you notice these signs in your cat do contact your vet.

5. Do Cats Dream About their Owners?

It is most likely that cats dream about their owners. They will probably dream about their days and you are very likely to be part of that.

6. Do Cats Sleepwalk?

Sleepwalking in cats is extremely rare. If it does take place, it can be a sign of a brain injury.

7. How big is a cat’s brain?

The brain of a standard domestic cat is about 5 centimeters long and weighs between 25 and 30 grams.

ginger cat asleep in bed with paws up

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