An often-pondered question by pet owners is what, if anything, does my animal dream about when he or she dozes off? Answer? Well, the same things humans do.
A recent study conducted by MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory in Cambridge, MA shows that dogs and cats do, in fact, dream and often it’s of past events. So when you see Spike running as if he were playing fetch, he probably is- within his subconscious.
The study showed that virtually all vertebrates and mammals possess a part of the brain known as the hippocampus; which is in essence, a large memory storage-shed. It’s this part of the brain that produces the memories from the past days, weeks, months, and so on. The critical similarity, however, isn’t that the hippocampus simply exists in both cats’ and dogs’ minds; it’s that cats and dogs enter different stages of sleep much like humans. These stages range from slow wave sleep to REM (rapid eye movement) when most dreams occur.
Through the study, scientists were able to identify that cats, for example, enter a state of REM approximately every 25 minutes when sleeping; whereas for people it’s around 90 minutes. With dogs, the cycles of sleep differ based upon the animal’s size.
So, how do we know for certain what animals dream about? Older research suggests that cats and dogs dream about daily activities as evidenced by their movements, i.e., a cat will paw at the air in a dream state, and a dog may bark as if a stranger were approaching him.
From all the evidence we’ve seen in our own lives and out there on the internet, we definitely know something goes on while our pets are asleep. Here is a classic example of a doggy dream in all its hilarity.