Understanding What Felines Dream About

Understanding What Felines Dream About

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We all know how much cats love to sleep. Felines sleep for approximately 16 to 18 hours a day. It is common to observe sleeping cats twitching their paws or tails. Similar to humans, cats experience different cycles of sleep, from slow wave sleep to R.E.M. sleep.

What Is Rapid Eye Movement?

The stage of sleep wherein most dream activity happens is called the Rapid Eye Movement (R.E.M.) stage. However, some dreaming happens in the non-R.E.M. stage as well. Dreams in the non-R.E.M. stage comprise mostly of brief snapshots of the dayโ€™s activities. While humans enter R.E.M. sleep approximately every 90 minutes, cats enter this sleep stage every 25 minutes.According to brain and cognitive sciences professors, at MITโ€™s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, cat's dreams are not very different from those of humans.

What Do Cats Dream About?

Like us, cats dream about their daily lives, activities such as playing, preying and stalking among other things.

A Catโ€™s Senses

According to animal behavior consultants and cat experts, a felineโ€™s sense of hearing and smell can remain active during 70% of sleep time, to allow them to react quickly to real or imagined threatsin their territory.Most other times, cats are likely to wake up with predictable movements such as blinking, stretching, yawning and flexing the front legs, back and the rear legs.

A Look Into A Catโ€™s Brains

The hippocampus is the region of the brain that deals with memory. In a catโ€™s brain, the hippocampus consists of all the same components that are present in a human brain. The pattern of electrical activity in catsโ€™ brains is rather similar to the patterns in a humanโ€™s brain.

How To Identify A Dreaming Cat

When we see a cat twitching its paws, whiskers or tail, we believe the cat is dreaming. But this is incorrect. The most important indication that a cat is in a dream state, is a completely relaxed condition. When a cat is in R.E.M. sleep, the body turns off the large muscles that prevent them from acting out dreams in a state of sleep. Sleepwalking CatsCats are even known to sleepwalk, although sleepwalking is found to happen only in brain-damaged cats. Brain-damaged cats have lesions around the locus coeruleus in the brainstem. When awake, these cats act normal, but as soon as the R.E.M. sleep stage begins, they start to act out their dreams.

Dream Patterns In Older Cats

As the cats mature and age, the ability of the brain to turn off large muscles becomes less effective. As a result, cats experience more physical movements during sleep. So if you ever find your cat suddenly jolted out of slumber, don't be alarmed. It is quite normal because their movements while asleep can be sudden.

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