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What are Your Cats Dreaming About?

July 02, 2015


What are Your Cats Dreaming About?

We’ve all seen the cats twitching and moving in their sleep, but what are they actually dreaming about? Hunting mice? Endless fields of catnip? A can opener designed for small kitty paws?

Well it would be wonderful to ask them, but unfortunately we can’t, so how do we find out what the tabbies are dreaming about? Well, it turns out that there are two ways of finding out. The first is look at how they move and behave while they are sleeping - their movements and twitches for example. Twitching and moving in one’s sleep is a strange and freakish occurrence - after all one of the key characteristics of REM sleep is that we are basically paralysed.

Sleeping Cat

REM sleep is the deepest part of sleep and the state where we think the body best develops and regenerates. That is why we don’t move that much while we are sleeping, but when scientists prevented REM sleep from paralysing cats when they were asleep, the cats, believe it not, walked around as if they were hunting. This has even been seen in rare moments when normal house cats actually sleep hunt or walk.

Sleeping Cat

Cat’s have also been known to chatter or make sounds or twitch their whiskers while they are sleeping. Is this the twitch of a frustrated kitty who failed a hunt or a kitty who just discovered where the tuna is hidden? It could be either. More than likely like you, your cat is acting out memories from the day. So how do we delve deeper?

Sleeping Cat

We turn to the other way to find out what cats are thinking about is to take a look at their brains while they are sleeping. By taking MRS images of cat’s brains while they are sleeping we can match their sleeping thought patterns to thought patterns while they are awake. Scientists can then try and work out exactly what your cat is dreaming about. Is it that easy? No, it isn’t, but scientists are able get a pretty good idea of what they could be thinking about - which turns out to be pretty much what their body movements suggest.

Are all cat dreams happy dreams? Probably not. Many owners whose pets have gone through traumatic experiences have noticed that their animals seem to be even more twitchy and noisy than usual, with some even yowling in their sleep.

Sleeping Cat

So the next time you see your kitty twitching in its sleep let’s hope that they are having happy dreams of endless playtime with you, hunting wild catnip flavoured salmon and delicious treats.


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