Saturday 2 March 2024

What do domestic cats dream about? My thoughts.

What do domestic cats dream about? 
Past experiences and emotions reprocessed in the rarefied and distorted environment of a dream in order to mentally process them to help make them emotionally acceptable. - My thoughts.
You can tackle the question in the title in two ways: you can rely on your personal experience in observing your cat and how they behave when they are dreaming or you can rely on research which in the USA would suggest that cats may dream about things that have happened during the day or in the distant or recent past which is similar to the way dogs and humans dream.

We are going to have to guess and that's exactly what Dr Desmond Morris has suggested. It's a question that he can't answer and neither can anybody else with certainty but I think we can rely on our personal, human experiences and the dreams that we can recollect and what they mean.

I have suggested that a lot of the dreams we have are a means to divest ourselves of anxieties. A lot of my dreams are about becoming anxious in trying to do something that can't be done such as catch a train at a station which is impossible to get at or hitting a golf ball which is impossible to hit or take an exam which I am bound to fail. These are expressions of frustration in trying to get things done and the anxiety that they produce.

Indoor/outdoor cat

In dreaming about them I believe that we can divest ourselves of these anxieties and renew the brain for the next day's fight.

I know that my cat dreams and has nightmares sometimes or a feline's version of nightmares. He might suddenly wake up with a start and he might vocalise his difficult experiences during his nightmare. I can only guess that he has encountered a fox or had some other very bad experience in his dream which has woken him up.

But his dream will be based on his day-to-day experiences, possibly a particular bad one that occurred outside in which he now dreams about. It may have happened a long time ago or recently.

Indoor cat

I don't think you can expect a full-time indoor cat to have the same kind of dreams experienced by an indoor/outdoor cat.

In fact, I would suggest that a full-time indoor cat is rarely if ever going to have nightmares unless they are being bullied in a multi-cat home. And I would suggest that their dreams are going to be less difficult and painful or distressing particularly if they are well looked after in a pleasant home by a nice and considerate caregiver.

If it's true that a person or cat processes their anxieties in their dreams, I would expect very few dreams to be recalled by domestic cats that live a cosseted and pleasant indoor lifestyle. 

They have nothing nasty to process. They should have no anxieties because all their needs are met. They have security, warmth and food and a loving caregiver. There is no room therefore for anxiety. Perhaps they just dream about nice things. Every dream is a pleasant experience.

Dreaming experiences

But the bottom line is that either people or cats dream the things they've experienced but in a dreamlike way which is distorted but ultimately, in my case, these negative dreams boil down to a feeling of anxiety and my brain's desire to process them to make them more acceptable. 

The image is by Bing Co-pilot using DALL E 3.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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