Do our pets dream?
Do you ever watch your pooch as they sleep, and notice their tail wagging or legs moving? Or maybe your cat seems twitchy despite being in a deep slumber. Any pet owner will agree these signs suggest that our furry friends do indeed dream!
But what are they dreaming of?
Petplan takes a look at the sleep cycle of pets, and what might be on the minds of our cats and dogs...
The sleep cycle of dogs
Just like humans, our pets and other animals have a sleep cycle which consists of different stages and different types of sleep. Puppies spend around 18 hours a day snoozing, and adult dogs spend between 12-14 hours.
Human sleep is divided into two categories, REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) and Non-REM sleep. We experience our most vivid dreams during REM sleep, and this stage is vital to our learning and memory development. REM sleep makes up about 25% of our sleep each night!
Canines also experience REM sleep, and another stage of sleep called Slow Wave Sleep (SWS). Dogs spend 10% of the snoozing time in REM sleep, which is when dreams are most likely to occur.
The sleep cycle of cats
When it comes to cats, you might wonder why they sleep so much – an average of 15 hours a day!
Cats are most active during the evening, when we are sound asleep in our beds. This is probably due to their ancestors being nocturnal predators. For instance, larger cats such as lions slumber for the majority of the day and hunt at night.
And, despite being domesticated, cats are still an animal that has clearly preserved its feline instincts.
Cats also experience REM sleep and it is at this stage that dreaming is likely to occur.
What about pet dreams?
The movements that occur during sleep in our pets suggest that they do in fact dream.
One of the most accepted theories of animal dreaming is that it allows the brain to process the day’s events. Therefore, dogs and cats are most probably dreaming of their owners faces, smells and other activities from the day – running (dogs) or stalking prey (cats) both being number one!
What exactly it is that our pets dream of we may never know, but their brains like ours use sleep as a way of restoring memory and helping the body rest before the day ahead!
How can you tell when your pet is dreaming? Let us know in the comments below...