You may have asked yourself, “Do dogs dream?” or if you’re a cat owner, “Do cats dream?” If your hunch is that yes, pets do dream, you’re correct. Here are some quick facts on animals and their sleepy-time brain habits!
Do Pets Dream?
Based purely on the number of hours they sleep, one might guess that pets do dream, just like their human counterparts. Many dog owners witness behaviors that suggest dreaming, such as pawing the air, growling or snapping. And others notice their cat twitching in sleep and other movements.
The scientific basis for this assertion lies in brainwaves. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted experiments, studying brain behavior in rats. Two researchers, Matthew Wilson and Kenway Louie, took electrical recordings while rats performed specific tasks, such as running through a maze. The scientists measured data from the hippocampus, the part of the brain that stores information and memories. The rats exhibited nearly the exact same brain waves while they slept.
There’s more to the pet dream hypothesis than simply similar electrical readings in rats. Pets, like humans, obviously have more complex brains than rodents. And they work similarly as well. Humans and animals dream when they enter the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of sleep.
The name comes from the fast eye movement exhibited under eyelids during this portion of the sleep cycle. While animals and people might seem more active during this stage, this is actually a portion of the sleep cycle when organisms experience a deeper, more relaxed sleep. During this period, pets and humans do not stir as easily. It will be more difficult to wake them up and they’ll breathe more deeply.
What Do Dogs Dream About?
Researchers say that dogs dream about the exact same things that we do – like showing up to math class naked (just kidding). What those scientists mean is that dog dreams are inspired by their day-to-day life. Their dreams are a reflection of what they experience while awake.
Dogs dream about their fears, loves, anxieties and simple pleasures. They probably dream about toys, going on walks, not getting extra snacks or chasing after that darn taunting squirrel! Dogs see differently than people – colors are more muted and they only see shades of yellow, blue and grey. Their dreams are also limited to those colors.
What Do Cats Dream About?
Cats also dream about topics in their everyday life. So they might be experiencing dreams about endless mice or finches. Maybe they’re dreaming about not being able to find their favorite toy or they’re dreaming about snuggling with you in front of the TV. Cats don’t see color the same way people do so they likely also only dream in muted shades of blue, grey and green.