Do Cats Dream About Their Humans? The Surprising Truth Behind Your Feline’s Nighttime Adventures


Have you ever watched your cat sleeping – her paws and whiskers twitching, eyes moving rapidly behind closed lids – and wondered what she’s dreaming about? As cat owners, we can’t help but imagine our furry companions dreaming of chasing mice, lounging in sunbeams, or having imaginary conversations with us. The idea that our feline friends might be dreaming about us is certainly appealing. But is it true? Do cats actually dream? And if so, what goes on in their slumbering little heads?

Cats spend over 50% of their lives asleep, much of it in the REM (rapid eye movement) stage most associated with dreaming. While we can’t know for sure what cats dream about, scientific research provides clues into feline sleep cycles and what their dreams might look like. Join us as we explore the sleeping habits of cats, signs that your cat is dreaming, and whether there’s any truth to the idea that cats dream of their favorite humans. We’ll also provide tips to ensure your cat gets the best sleep possible, filled with pleasant dreams of play and treats. Who knows – you may gain some insight into your cat’s secret inner world. Sweet dreams, whiskers!

The Sleep Cycles of Cats

Cats experience complex sleep cycles similar to humans. Like people, cats alternate between two main types of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. During REM sleep, a cat’s eyes move rapidly under their eyelids as they dream. This REM stage accounts for about 10-30% of a cat’s overall sleep time. The remaining 70-90% is NREM sleep, which consists of three stages ranging from light to deep sleep. NREM is important for physical recovery, while REM is critical for mental development and learning. According to the Sleep Foundation, cats may experience over 30 REM cycles per day, with each REM bout lasting just 5-10 minutes. Their frequent dips in and out of REM sleep may explain why cats seem to nap so often.

Kittens and juvenile cats need more REM sleep than adult cats to aid their mental development. As cats mature, the balance shifts to favor more deep NREM sleep for physical restoration. Elderly cats also tend to sleep more deeply and have reduced REM sleep. Understanding your cat’s natural sleep cycles can provide insight into their health, age, and wellbeing.

Do Cats Dream?

There is strong evidence that cats do in fact dream. Cats experience the same sleep cycles and stages as humans, moving through light sleep into deep REM (rapid eye movement) sleep where dreaming occurs. During REM sleep, a cat’s brain is highly active, and their eyes can be observed moving behind closed eyelids as if watching something. Their bodies also twitch, and they may make running motions with their legs as if acting out a dream. Cats can even be heard meowing or making other noises while asleep. These physical behaviors during REM sleep indicate that cats are likely dreaming, similar to humans. According to experts, the neurological and sleep cycle similarities between humans and cats make it very likely that feline dreaming does occur.

What Do Cats Dream About?

There are several theories about what cats may dream about based on their sleeping behaviors and movements:

One theory is that cats dream about common daily activities like hunting, playing, exploring, and interacting with their owners. This is based on the observation that sleeping cats will often move their legs as if running, make quiet meowing sounds, or twitch their tail as if stalking imaginary prey [1].

Another theory suggests cats may replay moments from their recent waking lives, similar to how humans have dreams about their day. This could involve dreaming about eating, using the litter box, playing with a favorite toy, or interactions with people and other pets [2].

Some experts think cats may dream about being with their mother and littermates from when they were kittens. This is based on observations that orphaned kittens often suckle and snuggle during REM sleep as if nursing [3].

While the exact content remains a mystery, most veterinarians and researchers agree that cats do dream during REM sleep. Their body movements and behaviors offer clues into their dream world.

Do Cats Dream of Their Owners?

According to experts, cats likely dream about their owners in some capacity due to the strong bonds they develop with them. Some reasons why cats may dream of their owners include:

Experts say cats’ dreams often reflect their interactions and experiences while awake, so it makes sense they would dream about their owners who they spend so much time with.

Cats form close attachments to their owners who feed them, play with them, and care for them. It’s natural they would enter their subconscious thoughts during sleep.

Owners are a major source of environmental stimuli for indoor cats. Since dreams process daily events, owners are likely to appear in cats’ dreams frequently.

Some sleepy behaviors like purring, moving their paws, or meowing could indicate cats are dreaming of interactions with their owners.

While we can’t know for sure, owners may hope their cats dream about the safety, comfort, and affection they feel in their presence.

My Cat Acts Differently After Waking Up

It’s common for cats to act strangely after waking up from sleep or a nap. This odd behavior is often attributed to the dreaming and REM sleep that cats experience. When cats are suddenly woken up from a dream, they can feel disoriented and confused. This may cause them to act anxious, upset, or startled right after waking.

Some common behaviors cats exhibit after waking up from a dream include:

  • Meowing or crying out
  • Appearing startled or scared
  • Running around the house
  • Seeking out their owner for comfort
  • Being more aggressive or temperamental

According to Purina, when cats wake up suddenly their brain is still sending signals related to their dream state. ThisConfusion from our cat’s brain can lead to odd behaviors as they adjust back to being awake. Some cats may even have trouble recognizing their surroundings or owner immediately after waking up.

The panic or stress from a vivid dream may also cause a cat to want to reconnect with their owner for comfort. This is why some cats seek out attention or affection after waking up. Offering gentle pets or reassurance can help them relax and feel secure again.

How to Tell if Your Cat is Dreaming

There are a few telltale signs that indicate when your cat is dreaming. These behaviors tend to occur during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep when dreaming is most likely to happen.

Some of the most common signs that your cat may be dreaming include:

  • Twitching – You may notice your cat’s whiskers, ears, legs or paws twitching while asleep. These involuntary muscle spasms are a sign they may be dreaming.
  • Vocalizations – Meowing, crying or other vocal noises while asleep often suggest your cat is dreaming.
  • Irregular breathing – A cat who is dreaming may have irregular breathing patterns compared to their normal restful sleep.
  • Whisker movements – A dreaming cat’s whiskers may quiver or shake, indicating brain activity.
  • Eye movements – Though a cat’s eyes are closed while dreaming, you may see their eyelids moving or fluttering.
  • Funny sleeping positions – Your cat may sleep in odd, awkward or unusual postures while dreaming.

Generally, if your cat is displaying restless behavior while asleep, there’s a good chance they are dreaming. Just like humans, the brain remains active during REM sleep leading to motions and vocalizations.

If you notice your cat twitching, don’t wake them up! Let them enjoy their kitty dreams undisturbed. Temporary muscle spasms are normal during feline REM sleep.

Tips for Improving Your Cat’s Sleep

There are several things you can do to create a comfortable sleep environment for your cat and improve their quality of sleep at night:

Make sure your cat has a cozy place to sleep. Provide comfy cat beds, soft blankets, and quiet spaces away from noise and foot traffic. Cats often like enclosed spaces like cardboard boxes, cat carriers, and hideaway beds.

Keep their sleep area clean, dry, and temperature controlled. Cats like warmth but avoid getting too hot. Keep bedding washed and aim for room temps between 65-78 degrees.

Establish a soothing bedtime routine like gently brushing or petting your cat before bed. You can also try relaxing music, essential oil diffusers with cat-safe scents like lavender, or Feliway pheromone diffusers/sprays to promote calmness.

Limit daytime napping and nighttime snacking. Keep your cat engaged and active during daytime hours. Feed dinner earlier and avoid late-night treats that can disrupt sleep.

Provide stimulating playtime and exercise during the day. This helps tire them out for better nighttime sleep. Try wand toys, chase games, cat towers, etc. to keep them active.

Talk to your vet if your cat struggles with disrupted sleep or insomnia. They can check for underlying medical issues and may recommend supplements or medications if needed.

Fun Facts About Cat Dreams

Research has shown that kittens dream more frequently than adult cats. Kittens experience REM sleep for around 6-8 hours per day, while adult cats sleep deeply for 12-16 hours a day but have shorter REM periods of just 30 minutes at a time.

Studies indicate that cats most often dream about recent experiences like hunting, playing, or interacting with their owners. Their dream content seems connected to their activities while awake.

Some scientists believe cats dream in color since their vision includes some color reception. However, their dreams likely incorporate less imagery and detail compared to human dreams.

During REM sleep, cats can exhibit various movements like twitching, making suckling motions, or moving their paws as if playing. These motions suggest they may be acting out elements of their dreams.

Researchers have discovered that cats only experience nightmares during REM sleep, just like humans. So any distressed behaviors during dreams indicate the cat may be having a frightening dream.

One study monitored sleeping cats’ brain activity and found increased neuron firing when pleasant smells like food or catnip were introduced. This suggests cats may respond to smells while dreaming.

Some experts theorize cats dream about hunting successfully and catching prey based on how intently they watch birds and other animals. Their dream behaviors likely connect to natural instincts.


Cats do dream, just like humans and other mammals. Their dreams likely consist of recent experiences and familiar environments. While we can’t know for sure if cats dream of their owners specifically, it’s likely they incorporate memories of interactions with their owners into their dreams. Cats may act differently after waking up if they were dreaming, but this does not necessarily mean you were in the dream. By understanding your cat’s sleep cycles and patterns, providing a comfortable sleeping environment, and observing their behaviors during sleep, you can get a better sense of your feline friend’s dreaming experiences. The bottom line is that if you have a close bond with your cat, there’s a good chance you play a role in its nighttime adventures.

The key points to remember are:

  • Cats have REM sleep when most vivid dreaming occurs.
  • Cat dreams are likely based on daily experiences and memories.
  • While we can’t confirm it, there’s a chance cats sometimes dream of their caring owners.
  • Look for signs like whisker twitching or paw motions to tell if your cat is dreaming.
  • Give your cat a comfortable, relaxing sleep space to encourage good quality rest.

We can’t interview cats about their dreams, but we can assume that if you have a strong bond with your feline friend, you probably appear in its dreamed adventures now and then. Sweet dreams, kitty!

Scroll to Top