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If you’re a cat owner and you like to watch your pet sleep, then you have surely noticed slight twitches from time to time. If you see this enough times then at some point you will ask yourself why is this happening. What is actually happening inside them? Does it hurt or is it just part of a dream? This article will shed some light on what happens in a cat’s mind when twitching while sleeping.
Are they twitches or seizures?
If you notice your cat twitch in its sleep long enough, you might at some point get concerned that it is due to a serious issue. However, most of the time, this isn’t the case and most cats will twitch more or less in their sleep. This might even be coupled with making sucking or vocal sounds, kneading the air, or moving the ears. There are a number of theories behind this behavior. Some experts call these movements involuntary muscle spasms. Another big chunk of experts considers that the twitches are due to the REM stage of sleep. In us humans, the REM stage of sleep is when we dream the dreams that we remember when we wake up. Cats have a longer REM sleep stage compared to humans and overall sleep around 16 hours per day, so you might imagine that they have plenty of time to dream.
If getting a cat from a young age, you will also notice that kitties tend to twitch more than adult cats. This is because, just like humans, younger cats will have a more immature nervous system. It is believed that due to all the work their nervous system is going through while making neuron connections, it is constantly firing, making the kitties move their limbs uncontrollably. This means that a twitching kitty is not only healthy, but it is also properly developing, getting a stronger nervous system.
Most of the time, there is no reason to worry if you notice your cat twitching while sleeping because it is just part of its normal behavior. YOu will only have to worry and talk to a vet if twitching is coupled with other symptoms like vomiting, decreased appetite, lethargy, or if the cat has a hard time waking up, its body stiffens really hard or the movements are especially aggressive, or jerky. A combination of these symptoms might signal a more severe illness. A violent, jerky movement, or complete body stiffness even while sleeping, cannot be called an innocent twitching and is more indicative of seizures or other neurological issues. It is usually very easy to know if you’re dealing with a cat that experiences seizures because these won’t happen only during sleep. The cat will also have some issues throughout the day, either with seizures, or odd behavior like the appearance of being overly confused or having wobbly feet.
Different stages of sleep
Cats will go through four different stages of sleep. The short naps they take are the lightest of the three. Cats can be almost completely aware of everything around them during this stage. They are so close to being awake that most often, although taking a nap, their ears will turn when hearing sounds. This is a type of sleep that was inherited by wild breeds as a way of protecting themselves and passed down to domestic pets.
The second stage of a cat’s sleep is deep sleep, also called the REM stage of sleep. This is when cats are most likely to dream, it’s when you’ll notice the twitching, and this shouldn’t last more than five to ten minutes in one go. When going for a longer sleep, a cat will oscillate between a lighter stage of sleep and deep sleep. When it comes to the level of awareness, this lighter sleep can be placed somewhere between the deep sleep and the napping type of sleep.
While young, most cats have a fourth stage of sleep, which is called activated sleep. During this fourth stage, the cat’s nervous system is firing and developing, and it is when the kitty will twitch considerably more than an adult cat, will squirm, and even cry. This is a very important step in the development of the animal and it should be nothing to worry about. Try not to interrupt a kitten from its deserved sleep. They will use this time to develop and rest.
Cats might skip deep sleep altogether, especially if they are stressed out, feel unsafe, or are for any reason uncomfortable. If you want to help the cat sleep better, then make sure you invest in a proper sleeping environment.