Are they dreaming?

I have watched my dog’s paws mimic running and heard her yipping when she appears to be soundly sleeping. My sister’s cat’s whiskers twitch, its tail whips and it swats at imaginary things in the air when it sleeps. Are they really dreaming?

Many scientists believe there is enough evidence that both cats and dogs and many other animals do dream. They have studied animal brains and found that they exhibit REM (rapid eye movement) type of sleep, where the brain is highly active but the person is unresponsive to the environment. During REM sleep, animals show the same kind of brain activity as humans. It is thought that the animal, like its human counterpart, relives experiences its had while awake.

Dogs spend an average of 10% of their sleeping time in REM sleep. Cats, who have been studied with EEG tests average about 30% in REM sleep. Puppies, kittens, and larger dogs can average even greater amounts. It is believed that REM sleep is a time when we sort and file our days events into our memory. So the next time you have an active day with your dog or cat, watch them sleeping afterward. You may just see that experience acted out in their dreams.

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