Life in a Cat house

Stan Johnson - Life in a Cat House




Our girl cat, Skittles, was curled up on the bed, sound asleep. I wasn’t paying much attention to her until I heard her begin to whimper and softly meow like she was in some distress.

When I went to her and stroked her head, she opened her eyes, then stood up to stretch and yawn. She was obviously fine and had only been having a bad dream.

Some people are surprised to learn that cats dream much like humans do. Actually, most animals dream, but since we don’t keep horses or buffalo in the house, we don’t notice it the way we do with cats. Their dreams can be good or bad. Occasionally, a cat will have a full-blown nightmare, especially if they have had an unpleasant experience or some kind of trauma in their lives.

Some cats sleepwalk, too. We’ve never had a sleepwalking cat but they do exist. They may hunker down like they are going to attack or they might just stroll around while fully asleep.

I wonder what our cats dream about. Experts say they usually dream of their daily lives, which for our cats means they have nice dreams. I would guess our boy cat, Ozrow, dreams a lot about hunting.

During his sleeping hours he is probably stalking a bear or pouncing on a mean dog. Ozrow fancies himself much more of a mighty hunter than he actually is.

Skittles probably dreams of getting petted or finding a nice place to hide out. She is afraid of almost everything, which could account for her bad dream. Since she really has very little to fear, she probably mostly has good dreams.

Perhaps Skittles and Ozrow both dream about a tuna treat or some salmon juice. Ozrow loves watermelon, so he might dream of having a big, juicy chunk all to himself.

I don’t know how long cats remember times from their past. Both our cats had some trauma in their lives before they came to our house, so maybe those bad incidents are still stored in their minds.

If they do remember, which I doubt, it doesn’t appear to bother them much awake or asleep.

One way in which cats and people differ is how much they sleep. Cats typically sleep 16 to 18 hours every day, so they have a lot more time to dream than a normal human who sleeps seven or eight hours daily.

It would be interesting to know if cats repeat their dreams as some humans do, or if they keep having fresh dreams.

There are people who make studies of cats and how they dream is one of the things those folks look into. There is no way for a cat to tell us what they dream about, but it is possible to tell how and when they dream. There are even some YouTube videos of cats shaking and twitching while dreaming. Our cats don’t do that because both are pretty sound sleepers.

The question I’d like to ask the experts is one I know they can’t answer. Do cats remember their dreams after they wake up?