While you were appreciating your cats various sleeping positions, you may have noticed some twitching. Have you ever wondered why this happens? What is going on in their bodies? Are they dreaming? Read on to become an expert on the science behind why cats twitch in their sleep.
A similarity between humans and cats beyond that they both go into REM sleep is that their young have immature nervous systems. Their nervous systems are hard at work making neuron connections and constantly firing, which is why babies move their limbs often and why kittens are so active.
Whole body stiffness and jerky movements may be indicative that your cat is having a seizure and not just innocently twitching.
What do cats dream about when they twitch?
Just like people (and rats), cats likely do most of their most vivid dreaming during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep. These are moments when a cat’s mouth may move, she may make tiny sounds, or her paws and legs may twitch. It may mean your cat is deep in a good (or weird) dream. That’s all normal.
How do you tell if a cat is having a nightmare?
Researchers suspect cats dream about their experiences throughout the day, and that includes their interactions with you. If they have a bad experience, your cat could very well have a nightmare about the negative events of the day and react with meowing, hissing, or sporadic movements while sleeping.
Is it normal for a cat's body to twitch?
It is known that muscle twitching can be caused by pain. A sore back, tail, or anal glands can result in muscle twitching on your cat’s back. Skin conditions that are itchy such as allergies or parasite infestations, can also cause muscle twitching.
Why does my cat tremble in his sleep?
You might notice your cat shivering when it is going to sleep, or while sleeping, this is usually due to signals being sent out to the cat’s brain in the dreaming phase. … Cats are very likely to dream during this period. You would notice squeaking and twitching, either in one part of the body or more.
Just like people and other animals, you may notice that your feline sometimes twitches in their sleep. As you might guess, this is pretty normal behavior. Lots of cats twitch in their sleep, though some are more prone to this behavior than others.
Typically, when the spasms occur while the cat is sleeping, there isnt much to be worried about. Genetic issues, trauma, certain medications, severe pain, and kidney failure can all cause twitching.
Younger cats will likely twitch more during REM sleep than their older companions. This is because their nervous system is underdeveloped and may not stop the cat from actually moving when the feline is in REM sleep. If your cat suddenly changes its behavior and starts twitching in its sleep more, then it may be time to call your vet.
There are several diagnoses options and treatments for cats that are twitching because of an underlying condition. Image Credit: ocot2103, Pixabay Often, involuntary muscle trembling will happen all the time. Overexercise and excitement will need to be avoided, as these can cause your feline to tremor more than usual.
Image Credit: Roo72 , Wikimedia Surprisingly, most seizures in cats occur while the feline is resting or sleeping. Instead, the aim is to reduce the frequency of seizures to ensure that your cat can live a good quality of life.
If you have ever witnessed a cat twitching while asleep, you have been lucky enough to see one of the cutest sights known to man. Whenever cats twitch in their sleep, the sight is downright adorable.
Image Credit: Roy Buri, Pixabay Most adult cats only have the three stages of sleep mentioned above. Active sleep is required for kittens to properly develop their nervous system.
Spasms are caused whenever the bodys muscles contract and relax back and forth. Image Credit: Ben Kerckx, PixabayIf you have a kitten who twitches a lot in its sleep, it could be developing its nervous system. As we learned above, kittens develop their nervous system through stage four or active sleep.
During this time, kittens twitch a lot and may even cry or squirm while sleeping. During the deep sleep phase, cats, humans, and many other mammals dream. Just as before, you dont have to worry about your cats health if it is twitching due to dreams.
To an untrained eye, it can be difficult to differentiate normal twitches from seizures. For example, twitches typically only impact the tail, leg, or singular parts, whereas seizures make the entire body tremble. Violent shaking throughout all body Sudden collapse Loss of awareness Chewing of the face Salivation Urination or defecation
For example, muscle spasms, a developing nervous system, and regular dreaming causes cats of all ages to twitch.
Twitches or seizures?
If your funny little cat often twitches in their sleep, you may be concerned that the condition is something serious. However, many cats twitch in their sleep. They might move their ears, knead the air, or make vocal or sucking sounds. A number of theories exist as to why. Some people believe they are involuntary muscle spasms. But a majority of scientists agree that cats twitch while in the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. In humans, the REM stage is when we remember our dreams. Cats sleep up to 16 hours each day, and a larger proportion of their sleep is REM sleep when compared to the human sleep cycle.You may have noticed that younger cats tend to twitch more than older cats. A similarity between humans and cats — beyond that they both go into REM sleep — is that their young have immature nervous systems. Their nervous systems are hard at work making neuron connections and constantly firing, which is why babies move their limbs often and why kittens are so active. Twitching during sleep in kittens helps to properly develop their nervous system.For most cats, twitching while asleep is a normal and common behavior. There is no reason to see a vet over your cat’s twitching unless they are also lethargic, have a decreased appetite, vomit, their body stiffens or they have jerky movements when they twitch, or they are hard to wake up. These symptoms might be symptoms of other serious illnesses. Whole body stiffness and jerky movements may be indicative that your cat is having a seizure and not just innocently twitching. Seizures do not only happen during sleep, though, so you will probably notice them while your cat is awake, too. If your cat has seizures, you will also likely see that they act oddly while awake; they may have wobbly feet or appear confused.
Stages of sleep
Essentially, cats experience three stages of sleep. The lightest type of sleep is the short “catnaps” they take. During this sleep, cats are very aware of their surroundings. You may notice that while taking a catnap, your cat’s ears still turn in response to sounds. Catnaps originated in wild cats as a natural defense mechanism, and the behavior was passed down to modern domestic cats.Deep sleep is also known as the REM stage of sleep. This stage only lasts five to 10 minutes at a time and is when cats twitch and probably dream. When truly sleeping, cats cycle through deep sleep and another stage of sleep — light sleep. Light sleep is between catnap and deep sleep in length and level of awareness.Kittens have a fourth sleep stage, known as activated sleep. During activated sleep, a cat’s nervous system is active (whereas it is usually at rest during sleep) and they may cry or squirm, or have more pronounced twitches than your average cat twitch. This, like other nerve firings that occur in young animals, is important for maturing the nervous system. Never rouse a sleeping kitten. They need lots of rest to make up for all the energy they exert while awake!If they are uncomfortable or feel unsafe, cats may not go into deep sleep. To make a welcoming sleeping environment for your kitty, be sure to provide them with a bed or otherwise padded, raised sleeping area. Sleeping on a raised platform allows cats to escape other stimuli that are on the ground, such as children or other animals. This should be in a room that is relatively cool. If the temperature is cool enough, your cat might roll up into a ball to sleep. Cats will sleep in a more relaxed position in warmer temperatures.Remember that usually a cat’s twitches are not harmful. It can even be entertaining to watch a cat twitch! So just sit back and relax, and enjoy the free show.
1. Involuntary Muscle Spasms
Involuntary muscle spasms may cause twitching. These are involuntary muscle movements that shift back and forth from contraction to relaxation. These tremors can occur in any part of the cat’s body.Typically, when the spasms occur while the cat is sleeping, there isn’t much to be worried about. However, tremors can occur because of an underlying condition, though they will likely occur if there is a severe condition behind them.Genetic issues, trauma, certain medications, severe pain, and kidney failure can all cause twitching. Inflammation, hypoglycemia, and toxicity can also cause problems. However, these usually cause twitching throughout the body while the feline is awake too.
2. REM Sleep
Just like people, cats go through REM sleep as well. This is a particular stage of sleep that is often considered “deep sleep.” When you feel well-rested, it is likely because you have gone through a lot of REM sleep. In humans, we can remember our dreams when we REM sleep.We don’t know if cats dream. However, they do enter REM sleep. Much of their sleep is REM sleep – more so than in the human sleep cycle. The average cat also sleeps more than people. Cats can sleep up to 16 hours each day. that’s far more sleep than people get!Younger cats will likely twitch more during REM sleep than their older companions. This is because their nervous system is underdeveloped and may not stop the cat from actually moving when the feline is in REM sleep. This is similar to human babies, who are more likely to mumble and twitch in their sleep.
There is also the rare chance that your feline may be having a seizure – not just twitching in their sleep. Twitching and seizing can be challenging to tell apart, especially to the untrained eye. Many cats will also lose consciousness when they have a seizure. Therefore, unless you saw your cat lose consciousness, it may appear that they are twitching in their sleep.Seizing is often characterized by full-body movements. If your feline is moving just one leg, it likely isn’t a seizure.All sorts of things can cause seizures themselves. Diseases that affect the brain directly or indirectly can cause seizures. For instance, liver and kidney disease can cause seizures. They don’t affect the brain directly, but it does affect the blood that arrives at the brain. Anything like brain tumors can also cause seizures.Of course, some seizures are hereditary and not caused by any physical reason.However, if you see the cat fall asleep and then start twitching, it probably isn’t having a seizure.
Understanding a Cat’s Sleep Cycle
Before we dig into the four main reasons cats twitch while asleep, it’s important to understand a cat’s sleep cycle. Just like us, a cat’s sleep can be divided into stages. Each one of these stages serves a different function in the cat’s wellbeing.
Stage 1 – Catnaps
The first stage of a cat’s sleep is often called catnaps. They are often very short, and the cat is still awake enough to respond to their surroundings. The most obvious sign that your cat is in a stage one sleep is that the cat’s ears turn or twitch in response to sounds.
Stage 2 – Light Sleep
The second stage of cat sleeping is light sleep. Light sleep can vary in time length and awareness levels. The cat isn’t quite as alert as during a catnap, but it isn’t deep sleeping or dreaming yet either. Cats must go through stage two to get from stage one to stage three.
Stage 3 – REM or Deep Sleep
The third stage of sleep is deep sleep or REM. REM sleep only lasts around 5 or 10 minutes. If your cat is twitching, it is most likely in this stage of sleep because this is the stage when cats dream. Your cat will be the least responsive during the deep sleep phase.
1. Muscle Spasms
No matter what stage of sleep your cat is in, it may just be having muscle spasms. Spasms are caused whenever the body’s muscles contract and relax back and forth. Occasionally, muscle spasms can be caused by health conditions, but most muscle spasms are just a natural part of the sleeping cycle.
2. Developing Nervous System
If you have a kitten who twitches a lot in its sleep, it could be developing its nervous system. As we learned above, kittens develop their nervous system through stage four or active sleep. During this time, kittens twitch a lot and may even cry or squirm while sleeping.If the kitten is twitching a lot and making a lot of noise, it is most likely in stage four of sleep. The kitten should outgrow this stage once it fully develops its nervous system.There is no need to worry if you think your kitten is twitching due to a developing nervous system. In fact, it is necessary to have a healthy and happy cat. Let your kitten continue twitching and enjoy the amusing sight.
Even though adult cats grow out of stage four of sleep, many still twitch because of stage three, or deep sleep. During the deep sleep phase, cats, humans, and many other mammals dream. Whenever dreaming, your cat may twitch as a response to what it is seeing in the dream. Twitching due to dreams will likely be much less pronounced than stage four twitching.Note that even though only kittens can experience twitch is due to stage four sleep, kittens can also twitch due to REM sleep. In kittens, you might be able to determine which stage your cat is in by looking at the pronouncement of its twitches.If the twitches are only slight, the kitten is likely dreaming. However, the kitten is likely in activated sleep if the twitching is really pronounced or accompanied with noises.Just as before, you don’t have to worry about your cat’s health if it is twitching due to dreams. This is completely normal, and even we twitch while we dream. Let your cat continue dreaming and wake up as normal.
4. Having Seizures
Although the reasons above are completely safe and normal reasons for your cat to twitch during sleep, the twitching could be do to something more serious, such as seizures. Although twitches caused by seizures are much less common, it is still possible.To an untrained eye, it can be difficult to differentiate normal twitches from seizures. Often, twitches are different from seizures in that seizures attack the whole body, not just parts of the body. For example, twitches typically only impact the tail, leg, or singular parts, whereas seizures make the entire body tremble.Seizures are often accompanied by many other symptoms as well. Changes in appetite, grooming, and activity can all point towards your cat having seizures.