Do cats dream?

Cats do dream, and researchers say the experience for them is much the same as it is for humans. The hippocampus in the brain is the same in almost all mammals and vertebrates. This is the part of the brain associated with the formation of memory.

Cats, like humans, experience several states of sleep, including REM or “rapid eye movement” sleep. That’s when we see their eyes moving, and whiskers and paws twitching.

Although neither we, nor they “remember” all our dreams, the truth is that mammals dream in all stages of sleep, not just REM. Non-REM dreams are more or less snapshots from the day. REM sleep dreams are deeper and draw on experiences that go back years in the past.

In humans, REM sleep happens every 90 minutes. Cats experience this state every 25 minutes. Since the average cat sleeps between 13 to16 hours a day, that’s a lot of REM sleep!

What do cats dream about? The things they do in their everyday lives, just the way we do. In intelligence, cats are on par with most monkeys and chimpanzees. They have demonstrable short and long-term memory, and learn by trial and error and adaptive strategizing.

Since they have an awareness of object permanence (they know things exist they cannot see) on par with a two-year-old child, the feline dream life is certainly equally active. Do they dream of taking a test in their underwear or missing the last bus for work? Probably not, but the catnip mouse that got away? Absolutely.

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