Why Do Cats Twitch When They Sleep?

Why do cats twitch when they sleep? - Cat sleeping.

Observing your beloved feline while they sleep can be cute and peaceful, but many people might be concerned and wondering, why do cats twitch when they sleep?

If you see your cat do this and are worried something might be wrong, then don’t be. Like humans, cats are believed to have dreams when they sleep, and twitching just might be a natural response to their subconscious adventures.

In this article, we’ll answer some related questions to this issue and look a little deeper into your cat’s dreaming habits and what you can learn from them.

Let’s jump straight into it!

Cat dreams vs Human dreams

While extensive research hasn’t been done on the topic, cats are still widely believed by animal specialists to have the ability to dream the same way humans do.

Mammals usually start dreaming when they reach what’s known as the REM part of their sleep cycle. This usually happens around the 60-90 minute mark after you fall asleep.

The brain sends signals during this time and some of these signals are responsible for dreams. Your brain activity is increased during this period of time and certain studies conducted on rats have unveiled that even animals exhibit brain activation when they sleep.

This is a clear indication of dreaming.

Check out this amusing compilation of Cats Dreaming and Twitching:

Why do cats twitch when they sleep? – Check out this cute compilation video

What exactly do cats dream about?

Cats sleep for around 16 hours of the day. That’s almost half of their entire lives!

Not all of this is REM sleep of course, but a large portion of it still is.

The contents of dreams for humans and cats will greatly vary for obvious reasons. Usually, the dreams mimic our everyday lives as our brain processes what we went through during the day and it’s common for some of those experiences to trickle down into your dreams and your cat is no exception.

Obviously, there’s no real way to test this but chances are very high that your feline friend is happily chasing mice or lounging with mountains of catnip while it slumbers.

So why do cats twitch when they sleep?

When humans or other animals go to sleep, our muscles are temporarily paralyzed. This is called ‘muscle atonia’.

The body does this to keep you from acting on your dreams and moving. This isn’t foolproof and people who sleepwalk or talk in their sleep can definitely attest to this.

Cat muscles work in a similar fashion. Most of your cat’s body is paralyzed during sleep but some muscles, especially in the eyes, feet, and tail, might twitch or quiver when your cat catches a particularly difficult mouse in its dream world.

Besides twitching you might find your cat moving its paws or even rolling around while sleeping. This is normal and is just a response to what the dream is showing.

When your cat’s twitching should be a cause of concern?

In simple terms, if your cat is twitching when it’s asleep then don’t worry and let them be.

If your cat is awake and you notice excessive twitching or even seizures in extreme cases, then a visit to the vet is necessary.

There might be a bigger problem at hand.

Does this mean cats have nightmares?

Because cats dream in a similar fashion to humans and other mammals it’s logical to assume that cats might have nightmares as well.

There is no research present currently to back this claim but many cat owners report that sometimes their pet abruptly wakes up frightened and disturbed for no apparent reason.

This indicates that they were probably having a bad dream.

Should I wake my cat when it twitches?

No, you shouldn’t.

Obviously, if your cat is twitching more than normal or you suspect some bigger problem then sure, wake them and calm them down but for the most part, you should avoid doing this.

Like humans, REM sleep is when a cat’s body is repaired, and vital processes and rehabilitation is carried out.

Disturbing this process on a regular basis can cause serious issues. The best course of action is to let your cat sleep for as long as it needs.

Conclusion

So there you go!

You now understand the mysterious world of your cat’s dreams, what to do if your cat twitches when they sleep, and some pitfalls and problems to avoid.

For more helpful tips and advice, be sure to check out the rest of our site and feel free to share this resource with other cat owners who might have the same question. If you have other queries or thoughts don’t forget to leave them down in the comments.

See also: How much space do cats need?

Lucie Wilkins

Lucie is a qualified RVN (Registered Veterinary Nurse) with over 10 years experience working with cats. She has had a cat companion or two in the house for as long as she can remember. Read more about Lucie here.

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