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How Do Cats Dream?

Updated: August 8, 2022 by Kristen Chapple

We’ve all seen our little furry kitties sleeping like crazy all day long with nothing to worry about. Well, apart from their dreams that is. You’ve seen your kitty twitching their little paws in a sign that they might dream. But have you wondered how do cats dream?

There is some information out there that points to the fact that cats might experience dreams the way we do, but the reality is that no one knows for sure, so there’s no definite answer to this question.

How Cats Dream

One way for researchers to figure out what happens with cats during sleep is to try and determine what happens with us when we sleep and then figure out the common patterns both us and cats present.

To understand the matter with dreaming, we must first understand sleep and what happens during that time.

Understanding Sleep

The main characteristic of sleep is the reduced consciousness and voluntary muscular activity and the lack of sensorial activity.

Besides that, is seems that during sleep, the brain processes all the information it gained during the day and that’s probably connected to dreaming, both for us and other mammals like our feline friends. To be more precise, it’s the limbic system of the brain that sorts out all the images of the past day. And that happens with humans and cats alike, in fact with most animals.

Sleep is divided into two main categories: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and non-REM sleep. It’s known that dreaming always occurs in REM sleep, as research shows that the brain activity of the animal during that sleep phase is the same as the one during his awake time.

The difference is that during REM sleep, the serotonin – which controls the large muscles used for complex movements during the day – is shut off, leaving only the fine motor control on, which is why your cat will only twitch his paws, ears or whiskers or roll his eyes during dreaming.

The brain still sends commands to the muscles, according to the images unfolded in front of the eyes during the dream state, but the muscles won’t respond due to the serotonin system being turned off.

What Do Cats Dream About

Now that we understand how and why dreaming happens, the curious thing is what cats dream about.

Well, this question will probably remain unanswered for a very long time since cats can’t speak our language and we don’t understand them either, but researchers have a clue.

Since the sleep patterns of cats are similar to those we have, it sounds logical to assume that they dream about what happened during their day. So yeah, they might dream about playing with that little ball you threw on the floor, that red laser point that kept moving on the wall or the mouse they chased a while ago while you were at work.

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