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Medical Do animals dream, or have REM sleep?

  1. Aug 11, 2005 #1


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    Sometimes I can swear that our pet cat is dreaming in her sleep: her jaw kind of sags, her breathing becomes sleep-like (almost audible), she has tiny jerks in her paws and arms, her whiskers tremble.

    During these times, she is in a deeper kind of sleep than her more frequent "cat sleep" during which she sleeps "with one eye open."

    I think on a couple of occasions she made tiny sounds and moved her mouth as if suckling or eating in her "dream." Any science to this, or am I dreaming?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 11, 2005 #2
    Do animals dream

    Yes animals do dream and I used to watch my dog have dreams when he was alive.
  4. Aug 11, 2005 #3


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    How do you know your dog was dreaming? You're "guessing" just like I am, right?

    What I am wondering is whether there is any research on animal REM sleep, or animal sleep at all.
  5. Aug 11, 2005 #4
    REM sleep amounts also vary across animal species, depending on the size of the animal and its level of development at birth. The size of an animal seems to affect the type of sleep it experiences—small animals tend to spend more time in REM sleep. Animals that are born in relatively helpless states, such as opossums and humans, generally have more REM sleep as newborns than animals that can hunt, eat, keep warm, and defend themselves soon after birth, for instance guinea pigs or horses. Even as animals age into adulthood, those born relatively immature continue to spend more time in REM sleep than animals that are mature at birth. (2)
    animals and people and rem sleep
  6. Aug 12, 2005 #5


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    Do cats dream of miniscule sheep??

    Thanks, hypatia. Am I correct to think that the content of animals' dreams is not a subject that has been researched or can be reserched?

    This may sound like a question from an amateur (at best) because it is.
  7. Aug 12, 2005 #6
    Yes, the content of animal dreams has certainly not been seriously researched. The only way we know about the dreams of other human beings is by them reporting that they have dreamt, and unfortunately animals cannot report this.

    The notion that REM sleep means that one is dreaming solely comes from the observation that people that are awakened during REM sleep more often report to remember what they were dreaming (ranging from 70-95%) than people that are awakened during non-REM sleep (5-10%).
  8. Aug 12, 2005 #7


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    I thought it was a little more direct than that - I thought rem sleep corresponded to activity in the visual cortex of the brain (which is why the eyes move). I could be mistaken though...
  9. Aug 12, 2005 #8
    My dog sometimes makes little barking and growling noises while sleeping, as if dreaming about something.
  10. Aug 12, 2005 #9


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    I found [URL [Broken]
    tm]this link[/url] which starts with rats and goes on to discuss birds, cats, dogs and horses and cows.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  11. Aug 12, 2005 #10
    Yes, REM sleep is accompanied by a particular activity in the brain, but whether that activity leads us to experience dreams is not "measurable", let alone the contents of the dreams.

    (by the way the visual cortex does not make the eyes move, it analyzes incoming visual information)
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