Cats generally are known for being notorious nappers. In fact, they sleep more often than any species of domestic pets.
Younger kittens can be seen to sleep for about 20 hours a day, while older cats can snooze for up to 16 hours a day.
If you’ve ever watched your cat closely during their sleeping hours, you might have seen them twitch, snore or make some other odd sounds, or move their whiskers. And you tend to wonder if your cat is dreaming, right? Otherwise, while would they make those movements and sounds while sleeping?
Well, you’re not alone. A lot of cat owners ask, “Do cats dream, and do they have nightmares?” We’re going to tell you the truth about cats’ sleep time in this article, so you can understand your cat’s actions while sleeping.
Do cats dream?
The simple answer is “YES,” Cats do dream. Before now, a lot of researchers weren’t able to clearly prove if cats can and do dream.
But thanks to present-day technology, we can now determine when felines, canines, and other animals have dream-filled slumbers.
Cats actually go through different phases in their dream just like human beings. They also have REM sleep, which is when most dreams occur.
What happens during the REM phase? It is filled with vivid, long-lasting dreaming sequences. If you notice that your cat’s whiskers, tail, vocal cords, and paws “wake up” during sleep, then your cat is probably going through a REM cycle and dreaming about something.
The non-REM dreams are often fragmentary, toned down, and less tangible than the REM dreams.
This REM sleep is common among kittens in their first few months. That’s why you easily see more prominent muscle twitches in the sleep cycle of youngsters rather than in adult or old cats.
However, as kittens grow up, the REM sleep phase significantly reduces as a kitty grows- and the amount of hours they spend napping also reduces.
Now, you may also be wondering, what do cats even dream about? Well, it is important that you know, so you have an idea of what your kitty is going through while sleeping.
What do cats dream about?
Trying to know what cats dream about is as good as asking what cats think about. The answer often lies in their curious, unpredictable, and often misunderstood nature.
Needs and wishes: Your cat might dream about things that you withhold from them during the day. If you keep your cat indoors, know that they depend on you to meet their needs. So they always want something. And even if you give them all you think they need, they will still find something new to want. It can be as simple as a tasty treat or a desire to scratch its claws on your new furniture.
Memories: Cats have a very good memory and they tend to relive experiences they’ve faced recently and dream about them. The fun fact is that your adult cat can even dream about something that happened to them while they were still in the kitty stage.
Fantasies: Many animals have been proven to have imaginations. Cats are one of these animals, as they are extremely intelligent and are more likely to fantasize while they’re dreaming.
But the truth is that you can’t fully understand what your cat is dreaming about during their last nap. And unlike us humans, you only get a meow when you ask your cat about their dream, and that’s if they choose to give you a response.
Hopefully, technology will evolve to a point where we can easily use apps to accurately translate each meow into a clear meaning.
Another question cat owners often ask is, “do cats have nightmares?”
Do Cats have nightmares?
In one word, “YES,” your feline friend can have a nightmare.
But don’t get twisted, they don’t dream about cataclysms, politics, and other alarming things they saw on TV. They are less bothered about financial troubles, global climate crises, employment, and other common problems that trigger fear in human lives.
However, that doesn’t mean your four-legged friends can’t dream scary stuff.
Cats sometimes experience a wide range of negative emotions any seemingly trial issue can leave a strong impact on them.
If your pet is fidgeting and twitching in their sleep, for example, it could be as a result of a frustrating dream about a rat it saw in the house and how it could apprehend it.
Also, cats can have nightmares about unpleasant things that happened to them in the past. For example, painful landings, separation anxiety, and fights with other animals can trigger nightmares.
If they had spent some time in the streets, among abusive pet parents, or in overcrowded shelters, they are more likely to have nightmares even when they now reside in a safe and relaxing home.
More so, note that nightmares are more common among kittens than their adult counterparts, and this is largely due to the more frequent REM phases.
The seniors can have more nightmares than adult cats. If they suffer a particular pain due to compromised health, it’s possible that this pain haunts them during their sleep time.
Now here’s an advice for you: Even if you feel like your cat is having a bad dream, it’s not a good idea to wake them up. They can be startled and wake up with teeth and claws flying. So it’s advisable that you let a sleeping cat lie.
But one thing about our feline friends is that the moment they wake up, everything goes back to be normal.
Simultaneously asleep and awake
You might have observed how fast and effortless your cat can move from intense playtime to sleep. Cats are always a second away from a catnap.
Scientists describe cats as crepuscular- meaning that they tend to be awake and most active during twilight at dusk and dawn. But they tend to be in a hazy land of sleep-wake the rest of the day and night.
Another way to describe cats is that they are in the boundary between night and day – between sleep and waking. In fact, these mammals challenge the notion that it’s impossible to be simultaneously asleep and awake.
Not only are cats able to sleep while sitting up, but their sense of hearing and smell can also remain active during most of their sleep.
Why do cats twitch in their sleep?
You may sometimes notice that your cat is twitching, snoring, stretching, or making unusual squeaking noises in their sleep. You don’t have to worry too much about this as they’re all linked with REM sleep.
Your cat may twitch in their sleep as a result of signals being sent to their brain during the “dreaming phase.”
Some cat owners think twitching is a kind of seizure, but that’s not true. Twitching is a common experience during sleep, and it is also accompanied by other signs, such as lethargy, body stiffening, vomiting, or loss of appetite. If you notice all these signs in your feline friend, it is advisable that you take them to your vet as soon as possible.
Now you know that cats can have dreams and nightmares. They go through different phases in their sleep but have dreams in the REM phase. Cats can dream about different things, including memories, needs and wishes, fantasies, and more. But you cannot fully understand.
Your furry friends can also have nightmares and this is due to a thought or previous experience they had gone through.
So when your cat twitches, snores, or makes sounds, they’re probably going through the REM phase, and this common among kittens than in older cats.
In summary, always have it in mind that your cat might have troubled dreams every now and then. So don’t stress yourself about it. But if you notice any disturbing signs or health changes, you can visit your vet.