If you have a pet, you might have noticed them twitching or even talking in their sleep. You might wonder if they’re dreaming, or if they can dream.
Pets do dream, and we will go over common pets and their dreaming habits.
The entire sleep process doesn’t need to be explained here, it is enough to know that there are multiple stages of sleep, and one in particular is important for dreaming. This is called REM sleep.
REM stands for “rapid eye movement” and our eyes, or our pet’s, are moving under closed eyelids during this time. This is the stage of sleep where most, if not all, dreaming happens.
Do Cats Dream?
Yes! Cats have an REM sleep phase. You might notice your cat twitching their whiskers, paws, or even making some noise during their naps. It is likely that when this happens, your kitty is having a dream.
Kittens seem to spend more time in REM sleep than adult cats, and this might be a product of their being young and learning so much.
Do Dogs Dream?
Dogs dream, just like cats do. However, there are some important differences! The size of a dog seems to be a determinant of how much they dream. The smaller the dog, the more he or she dreams. As an example, a Labrador might dream once every hour or so, while a toy Poodle might be dreaming every 10 minutes. This is quite a difference.
You might notice your dog making noise, kicking their legs, twitching, and breathing faster when they are dreaming. Like kittens, puppies also appear to dream more than their adult counterparts.
Do Birds Dream?
Yes, birds dream. It is believed, not known, of course, that songbirds in particular dream often about songs they sang earlier in the day. Like with humans, replaying events during sleep likely helps with memory and retention of information, including songs.
Birds are unusual when compared to cats and dogs, in that they remain upright when asleep. Despite this, they are still able to go into REM sleep, and presumably dream.
Do Fish Dream?
The best answer we have right now is: We don’t know! Fish might or might not dream. Recent research has discovered fish, in particular Zebrafish, have non-REM and REM sleep, but it appears to be somewhat different from that experienced by humans and other mammals.
Furthermore, fish do not have eyelids, so their sleep is an entirely different experience. Despite this, it does appear that fish suffer from sleep deprivation in a way similar to humans, with reductions in performance on many activities. In other words, while we aren’t sure if your fish dreams, they definitely seem to need sleep regardless!
Do Lizards Dream?
It appears lizards can dream, experiencing REM sleep like humans. One study looked at Bearded Dragons, finding that they have both REM and non-REM forms of sleep that are analogous to us.
Of course, it remains a mystery what they dream about, or if they dream in the same way humans do, or even how dogs or cats do!
So do pets dream? Yes, depending on the type of pet you have. If your pet is a mammal, such as a dog, cat, hamster, etc., then the answer is yes. This is also true of birds. Lizards appear to dream, as well. However, we know less about lizard sleep generally than about dog or cat sleep, for instance.
Fish, on the other hand, are more mysterious. We are not yet certain they dream, and if they do, how much their dreams resemble ours.