When we close our eyes at night, we depart to dreamland. But what about dogs and cats? Do our pets dream too? Here’s what we know!
What are dreams?
It almost seems like magic. When we close our eyes after a long day and fall asleep, we see images. Sometimes enjoyable or funny, but at other times stressful or even awful in the case of a nightmare. While sleeping, you go through several stages such as light, deep and REM sleep. REM is short for Rapid Eye Movement. This is the main stage for our dreams. During REM sleep, the brains are extremely active, almost as active as they are when we’re awake. We don’t understand the process of dreaming all that well just yet. A well-known assumption is that dreams help us process our day. The emotional memory is said to be processed while we dream.
Do dogs dream?
Have you ever stopped to watch your sleeping dog? Notice how it will move its paws or squeal or growl sometimes? This probably means it is dreaming! Dogs can dream just like humans. Dogs also sleep in several stages which includes the dream-heavy REM sleep phase. You can recognise it when your dog growls, squeals, moves it paws or tail and especially by accelerated or irregular breathing.
Do cats dream?
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you by now that cats do indeed experience dreams including the REM phase. Cat dreams have been studied by several professors and they are almost certain that cats dream during their sleep. Because cats sleep several times a day, they will also dream several times a day, just like dogs. Curious how to recognise a dreaming cat? Pay attention while it is asleep. Do you see any paw movement or whisker vibrations? Your cat is probably dreaming.
It is likely that a lot of animals dream. They may not be able to tell us about it, but it can still be studied nonetheless. We can find out whether an animal is dreaming by looking at their brain activity while they are asleep. We don’t know for sure whether all animals dream nor whether it works in the same way as in humans. Research is still ongoing. For example, people often dream about things they experienced during the day, but we can’t tell for sure if animals experience the same thing. Maybe your pet is simply dreaming of a never-ending bowl of delicious food!
Why is sleep important to animals
Humans need around eight hours of sleep on average. And dogs and cats need their naps too. Dogs sleep twelve hours a day on average, and cats rack up an average of fourteen hours a day, which may vary by age. Pups, kittens and senior dogs and senior cats tend to sleep a lot more, up to eighteen hours a day. They do not get one long session of sleep like we do, but will sleep multiple times a day instead. Sleep helps calm your pet down and it is very important. Do not disturb your pet while it sleeps and make sure your dog or cat has a pleasant, peaceful sleeping spot. Behavioural changes in your dog or cat may be an indication that something is wrong. They may have fallen ill or be out of sorts. Keep an eye on things and consult a vet if necessary.