Petsolino is reader-supported blog. If you buy something through our posts, we may get a small commission. Read more here.

Can Cats Have Nightmares?

People often experience nightmares. They are represented by dreaming things that are in some way scary to us, and we feel very uncomfortable while this occurrs.

So, just like people it is also possible for cats and other pets to have bad dreams. You can notice this easily when they twitch or make facial expressions while asleep.

Welcome to dreamland

We dream in the phase of REM (rapid eye movement). This is represented by continous movement of the eyes while sleeping, and brain activity in this period is very high. This usually lasts for a few seconds or even up to 20-30 minutes. We can even have multiple dreams throughout the night, some people up to 7 different dreams which are usually easily forgotten. They also get longer as the night goes by.

It is proven by many studies that cats do dream. They spend most of their life in this state, so it has to be some kind of boundary that separates them from dreamland and the real world, otherwise they wouldn’t know where they are at times.

When it comes to bad dreams, this theory is a bit harder to confirm but if you are a cat owner then you have probably seen your pet jump from a dream, or wake up suddenly. It might be even that she makes facial expressions or twitches when sleeping, just like us humans do.

Some studies prove that this is in fact possible, and others deny it. If we go by logic, it is normal that if they do dream they can also experience unpleasent situations, or relive the ones that have happend to them in reality.

Cats probably dream about things that happen to them on the daily bases, so about food, about us, about furniture climibing and regular cat stuff. Since dreaming happens in REM phase of sleep, they need to be asleep for some time so they can experience dreaming. So, all those small naps she takes throughout the day, can’t get her to dreaming phase.

Conected to nightmares are also sleepwalking cats. They are actually cats that have brain damage and lesions. When they are awake they act normally, but in the REM phase of sleep they tend to get up and walk, just like humans do.

It is also been noticed that cats tend to have bad dreams more often during stormy nights, when there is a lot of noise outside the house.

Help your furry friend to recover

Domestic cats are a very sensitive creatures. They sense everything, and can be deeply upset if they experience something unpleasent or frightning. So, just like comforting a little child we must give in the same attention to our pets too. Pet your cat gently and make her feel safe again, so that she can disconnect from that bad place more easily.

This especially goes for cats that have been mistreated in any way. Cats that you have rescued from the streets are more common to have these types of dreams, so give them all the care and love they need. Any animal that has been in a bad position in his life where she’s been chased around, or even hurt can experience nightmares more often.

Writter Pamela Merritt wrote this exact story about her cat James Bond, who she saved from the streets and took into her home. The poor little guy had nightmares often, until he finally felt safe and taken care of.

So, just like us cats can relive their nightmares in real life, also in their dreams. They can remember a bad experience that has happend to them, and express their discomfort through their body movement and facial expresions. If you own a cat that has these problems, then make sure to comfort him after his bad dream. Give him a little attention and love, just like you would do with a child who has had this experience.

This goes out especially for the cat owners that accepted a stray cat in their home. You need to understand that she hasn’t had a good life, and she needs time to adapt to a new home, and attention she is getting form you, to forget all the bad things that she has been through. Ensure good company and proper diet. Read about whether cats can eat bread and more on Petsolino.