What does my cat dream about?

Dr. Desmond Morris, the great zoologist, author and artist, was asked the question in the title many times after his famous cat behaviour book Catwatching was published and became a resounding success on both sides of the Atlantic. He couldn’t answer the question. Nobody can for sure. We can guess.

In a follow-up book he says the following:

“We know for certain that they do dream and, judging by the sounds and twitches they make while doing so, there is a great deal of feline courtship and mouse-killing going on, but this is mere guesswork and has no place in a book that struggles to be as scientific and objective about cats as it is possibly to be.”

Dr Desmond Morris

That extract comes from his follow-up book Catlore. If he doesn’t know what cats dream about nobody does but it leaves open the door to people like me to guess as well.

What does my cat dream about? We don't know for sure but I bet the same reasons exist for cats and humans.
What does my cat dream about? We don’t know for sure but I bet the same reasons exist for cats and humans. Image: DALL E 3.
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Human dreams

And I would like to start in my guesswork by thinking about my dreams because my proposition is that the reason why domestic cats dream is going to be similar to ours. And I would also propose that one reason why humans dream is to disinvest themselves of anxieties.

I have a recurring dream when I’m trying to either take an exam which I am not prepared for or catch a train and I simply can’t get to the station. That’s anxiety. It’s anxiety based on previous life experiences.

These are the only dreams I can actually remember. Watching my cat dream, it seems to me that he is sometimes experiencing something unpleasant. I would suggest that it is something do with what he experiences outside but which have been distorted and exaggerated by the dreaming process.

Dreams are not very realistic. For me it was trying to do the impossible. Another example is that I played a lot of golf when I was younger and in some dreams I’m trying to hit a golf ball from an impossible position. It’s a reflection of how I feel i.e. the struggle to try and do something. Often the impossibility of it.

I sense that my cat is reliving some bad experiences if he’s having a nightmare such as encountering a fox that frightens him or a strange person or perhaps another cat which he has to chase and fight. He may be fighting in his dreams. Once again I think the mental process is about processing bad experiences and cleaning out the brain. It is like talking therapy without the talking.

He may be experiencing his very early life when he was a feral cat and struggling. There is no doubt that cats dream. Any cat caregiver can watch it happen.

Observe your cat when they are genuinely sleeping and sometimes their whiskers twitch and they make the odd noise; certain indications that a cat is dreaming. Sometimes my cat wakes with a start which must have been a nightmare. Nightmares seems to be relieving bad experiences but, in the distortion, and muddle of the dreaming process.

Even today, scientists don’t know why we dream but they accept that there has to be a beneficial purpose and from that starting point we can say that they help improve our mental, emotional and physical health. They are a kind of healing process in reliving anxieties. Perhaps expressing anxieties to process them and make them acceptable to us.

I am personally convinced that domestic cats experience the same sort of processes and they dream for the same reasons.

RELATED: Chasing Red in My Dreams is Like Following His Smell

AI’s thoughts on cats dreaming

This is what Bing’s Copilot thinks about cat’s dreaming. It takes its information from many sources including: iheartcats.com, vetadvises.com, rd.com, cats.com, catster.com, dreamclarified.org, purina.com.au.


Cats, those enigmatic and graceful creatures, do indeed dream! As they curl up in cozy nooks or stretch out luxuriously, their minds embark on mysterious journeys. Let’s delve into the feline dream realm:

  1. Reflections of Daily Life:
    • Cats likely dream about their daily activities, much like we do. Their slumber is a canvas where memories and experiences blend.
    • Imagine whiskered adventures: hunting, playing, and exploring. These familiar scenarios may replay in their dreams.
  2. Hunting and Predatory Instincts:
    • Given a cat’s natural instincts, it’s plausible that their dreams often involve hunting scenarios.
    • In dreamland, they might stalk elusive prey, pounce with precision, and capture imaginary critters. These dreams help keep their hunting skills sharp, even within the safety of home.
  3. Social Interactions and Bonds:
    • Cats form strong bonds with their human companions and fellow felines. It’s no wonder that these connections seep into their dreams.
    • Perhaps they dream of playful encounters, gentle head nudges, and cozy cuddles.
  4. Fears and Anxieties:
    • Just like us, cats have their share of fears. Loud noises, unfamiliar places, or even encounters with aggressive animals might haunt their dreamscapes.
  5. Exploring the Unknown:
    • Cats are curious beings. Their dreams could whisk them away to uncharted territories—secret gardens, moonlit rooftops, or perhaps even catnip-filled wonderlands.

While we can’t peek into their dreams directly, one thing’s certain: Cats’ slumber holds a tapestry of memories, instincts, and whimsical imaginings. So next time you see your cat twitching in sleep, know that they’re off on their own little adventures, chasing moonbeams and unraveling mysteries in the realm of dreams 🌙🐾

RELATED: Should we interrupt our cat’s nightmares?

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