The national sleep foundation reports that cats and dogs sleep twice as much as humans, spending an average of 15 hours per day snoozing off, which can easily go up a few hours depending on their age, breed, activity level and health conditions.
With so much time spent resting, it’s only natural for us to wonder if our dear pets dream and get nightmares and if they do, then what kind of dreams or nightmares they are possibly experiencing. We have done our research to provide you with all the answers.
We are certainly not the first people to be curious about this topic, in fact, the story of how we began seeking answers on animals’ ability to dream goes way back to the year 1960. A couple of researchers and scientists started to put their theories to test with multiple experiments, which included observing animals' sleeping patterns and their sleep behaviour, studying their sleep cycles and comparing their brain activity between their waking and sleeping hours.
Much like us, pets go through several sleep cycles, including REM ; the sleep cycle responsible for the most memorable and vivid dreams in humans. During this cycle, some cats tend to move their heads as though they’re following or watching something, it’s likely that they’re dreaming about hunting or playing with other pets.
For cats, dogs, and rats, studies have revealed that while sleeping, their brains occasionally recorded activities similar to the ones recorded when they were awake and partaking in some of their favourite pastimes, hunting, playing with their favourite toy or running in a maze. These findings confirm that pets tend to dream as we do, about their days, which can easily mean that their stressful moments of the day also could manifest into a bad dream later that night or a few nights ahead.
Some pets might exhibit concerning behaviour while experiencing a nightmare, on rare occasions; they could end up uncontrollably wetting their favourite sleeping spot. So when you’ve just left your cat napping in their favourite soft blanket, only to return a few hours later finding it all wet, know that it’s very possible that your furry baby might have had a dream or a nightmare. However, if this incident occurs a few times during the day, you might want to consult the vet as your cat could be suffering from a urinary infection.
If you’re wondering if there is a way to help your precious pet from getting their sleep interrupted by disturbing images, we’re here to tell you that you can certainly help in two ways; comfort your pet when they get awaken by a dream, but never wake them up on purpose as it could startle them. You can also reduce their daily stressors, by reducing their interactions with another aggressive pet in the house or catering to their personality needs, for instance some dogs find it stressful and depressing not to go out for outdoor walks, whereas some cats dread outdoor activities and prefer to stay home.
Understanding your pet’s unique needs to achieve an active, happy and stress free day plays a major role in improving the quality of the sleep they’re getting, the bedding and its location are also as important for some pets, so make sure you’ve provided your pet with the comfiest bed in an area isolated from any possible disturbance. To wrap up, we want you to keep in mind that the best recipe for good uninterrupted deep sleep for your pet, is as simple as creating wonderful new memories during the day.