Monday, February 2, 2009


Do cats dream? It certainly looks like it. Their whiskers twitch, paws flex, sometimes they make chattering sounds. Are those really the outward signs of dreaming? This is something that fascinated me so I did some reading on the subject. I don't always agree with the conclusions of 'experts' in animal behavior but in this case their findings seem logical to me.

Scientists say cats and dogs do dream. They have studied sleeping animals and find they experience the same REM stage of brain activity that people do. While people dream about every 90 minutes, cats dream more often about every 25 minutes.

What are they dreaming? That is a question scientists can't answer with complete certainty. They know (or think they know) that cats and dogs don't have the ability to imagine or fantasize. They do have remarkable memories of past events. Based on that, scientists speculate the dreams are a series of 'pictures' from the animal's past. Possibly something that has made a lasting impression like chasing and pouncing on prey.

Next time I watch my sleeping cats waiving paws and twitching whiskers I will wonder about what past events they may be reliving in their dreams.

Tolkien must have been a cat lover (so many poets and artists are). I was surprised to find he had written a poem about dreaming cats;)


a poem by J. R. R. Tolkien

The fat cat on the mat

may seem to dream

of nice mice that suffice

for him, or cream;

But he free, maybe,

walks in thought

unbowed, proud,

where loud

roared and fought

his kin, lean and slim,

or deep in den

In the East

feasted on beasts

and tender men.

The giant lion with iron claw in paw,

and huge ruthless tooth

in gory jaw;

the pard dark-starred,

fleet upon feet,

that oft soft from aloft

leaps upon his meat

where woods loom in gloom--

far now they be,

fierce and free,

and tamed is he;

but fat cat on the mat

kept as a pet

he does not forget.