You’re relaxing on a couch when you notice your cat twitching in sleep.

It starts with one leg, after which another leg and face jump in leaving you wondering what the heck is happening to your cat.

While we can’t ask our cats these questions, there are factors that explain why our cats twitch in their sleep.

If you’re worried about your feline twitching in its sleep, keep reading to find out the causes.

Stages of Cat Sleep Explained

kitten sleeping soundly

Although cats sleep for several hours each day, they go through different sleep cycles, just like humans.

According to Dr. Becker, kittens need more sleep than adult cats for proper development and growth of their brains. (1)

The three stages of sleep in cats are:

  1. Catnaps
  2. Light sleep
  3. Deep sleep

stage 1. Catnaps

cat sleeping

Why do you think we refer to quick naps as “catnaps?” It’s because cats are fond of short snoozes which make up a large part of their sleeping patterns averaging 78 minutes. (2)

Catnaps are the shortest and most frequent types of sleep cats experience. When taking a nap, your cat will appear drowsy with open eyes.

A cat’s brain is still active during this stage, but his entire body is resting. It’s the state between being fully awake and asleep.

stage 2. Light Sleep

cat light sleeping

Your cat’s brain waves start to slow down during this type of sleep.

The cat will be relaxed with half-open eyes or one eye closed while the other is open. Moreover, he may move around a bit in response to sounds and environmental stimuli like the wind in this phase of sleep.

Sleeping with one eye open may indicate an eye infection in your furry friend. If your cat’s eye looks red and inflamed, take him to the vet as soon as possible.

Light sleep is a natural defense mechanism, especially for wild cats. Wild cats need to be on the lookout for predators, so they can’t afford to fall into a deep sleep immediately.

stage 3. Deep Sleep

cat deep sleeping

The deep sleep stage is an essential part of a cat’s sleep. Your cat’s body undergoes growth, repair, and development during this sleep stage.

During the deep sleep phase, a cat’s brain waves are at their slowest. His breathing and heart rate will also be at their lowest.

A cat in deep sleep will be completely relaxed with his eyes closed. You’ll know your cat is in deep sleep if he’s snoring, making other soft sounds, or has ear twitching.

Cats experience rapid eye movement (REM) in deep sleep. During REM sleep stages, a cat’s brain is more active, causing dreams that result in twitches.

TRY CHECKING: How Do Cats Sleep With Their Head Up?

Do Cats Twitch in Their Sleep?

Yes, cats twitch in their sleep and this is not a reason to get worried about your pet’s health. Cat twitching in sleep is normal and healthy behavior.

Take a look at this quick video.

@morg_and_jinx An old video but does anyone else’s cat do this while they sleep? Is he dreaming? #catsoftiktok #cat #cattok #cats #petsoftiktok ♬ Love You So – The King Khan & BBQ Show

Why Does My Cat Always Twitch in His Sleep? 4 Reasons Demystified

#1 Dreaming

Cats dream during deep sleep or REM. Dreams help them process memories and experiences from the day.

If you’ve ever seen your cat twitching, jerking, or paddling his legs while asleep, he’s probably dreaming.

When cats dream, they often make cute little noises like chirping, crying, or meowing. It’s also common for them to move their whiskers or tails.

Check out the comment section on this video!

@sarahrescuescats i need answers #catsoftiktok #fostercatsoftiktok #fostercats #catvideosontiktok #cats #felinefriends #fatcats ♬ original sound – lyrics

#2 Muscle Spasms

Why is my cat shaking so much?

Muscle spasms in cats happen when muscles contract and relax back and forth. These involuntary muscle contractions can occur while your cat is awake or asleep. (3)

While muscle spasms are usually harmless, they can be a sign of an underlying medical condition like:

  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Liver issues
  • Kidney disease

If your cat experiences regular muscle spasms, it’s essential to take him to the vet.

#3 Pregnancy

pregnant cat

Pregnant cats often twitch in their sleep due to the changes in their bodies.

During pregnancy, your cat’s body is working overtime to support the developing kittens. This leads to increased muscle activity and twitching during sleep.

#4 Nervous System Development

Is it normal for kittens to twitch in their sleep? Yes.

Kittens, during nervous development, often twitch in their sleep. There’s nothing to worry about when you see your kitten twitch a lot in her sleep.

Twitching in kittens can be intense to the extent of squirming or crying during sleep. As a kitten parent, the best thing to do is create a safe and comfortable environment for sleeping.

As your kitten grows, he’ll outgrow the nerve development stage and the twitching will stop or reduce.

Here’s more explanation from this video

CHECK OUT: Why Do Cats Sleep Between Your Legs?

Cat & Kittens Twitching in Sleep: Should I Be Worried? Is It Normal? What to Do About It

Why do kittens twitch in their sleep?

It’s normal for your kittens or cats to twitch in sleep. There is nothing to worry about this behavior.

Is My Cat Dreaming or Having a Seizure?

cat sleeping on a table

While it’s normal for cats to twitch while dreaming, cat seizures are serious health issues accompanied by abnormal twitching.

Cat seizures occur when there is a problem with the electrical activity in the brain. (4)

You might be wondering how to tell the difference between a dream and a seizure. The key differences include:

  • The intensity of the twitching: Seizures are often more intense than normal twitching and may involve the whole body.
  • Loss of consciousness: While your cat will usually remain conscious in normal twitches, cat seizures are accompanied by unconsciousness. (5)

While twitching during sleep is normal for cats, you should visit a vet when your kitty experiences a seizure as it’s a sign of underlying health issues.

Here are some signs that your cat is having a seizure:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Body stiffens
  • Paddling of legs
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Choking or drooling
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control

Should I Wake My Cat Up if He’s Twitching?

child looking at something

No, you should not wake up your cat if he’s twitching in his sleep.

Cats usually twitch during the REM stage of sleep. REM is the deepest stage of sleep and your cat needs to get uninterrupted rest.

Waking up your cat from deep sleep is not good for his brain health. It can cause disorientation or confusion.

So, does cat twitching go hand in hand with cat dreaming?

Cat Twitching and Dreaming! Mystery Unraveled

Why does my cat leg twitch in his sleep? It’s usually an indication that he is dreaming.

Cat twitching and dreaming are confusing cat behaviors as they compliment each other.

Do Cats Dream?

cat rolling and dreaming

Yes, like humans, cats do dream.

While the jury’s still out on whether cats dream like humans, they have a sense of awareness during REM sleep.

Cats process information and memories from the day during REM sleep. As a result, you might see him twitching or crying out in sleep.

Do Cats Twitch When Dreaming?

Yes, cats twitch when dreaming.

Generally, cat twitching and dreaming are intertwined as they happen during REM sleep. Twitches indicate the transfer of signals to a cat’s brain during his dreaming phase.

Now that you know your feline dreams, what could he be dreaming about?

What Do Cats Dream About When They Twitch?

cat hunting

It is likely that cats dream about their owners or being on a hunt when they twitch.

Michel Jouvet, a sleep researcher, tells us, “Cats exhibit hunting-like behaviors during REM sleep that’s the main cause of dreams.”  (6)

Your cat’s brain replays the hunting scene so vividly that his body reacts to it. You might see him stalking an invisible prey or leaping in his sleep due to an exciting dream.

Do Cats Have Nightmares?

Yes, cats have nightmares, especially after a deep sleep.

In most cases, when cats awake from the dreamland where they have been hunting, they exhibit terrified expressions with wide eyes. The nightmare precedes a series of rapid twitching that signals the cat’s brain to snap out of the nightmare.

If you see your cat having a nightmare, it’s best not to wake him up. Let him work through the nightmare and wake up on his own when it’s over.

Here is a video of a cat having a nightmare:

How Do You Tell if a Cat Is Having a Nightmare?

You can tell if a cat is having a nightmare from his behavior. Some of these behaviors include:

  • Growling: Cat growling in sleep shows that he has had a bad dream.
  • Panting: You might see your cat’s chest heaving as he pants in his sleep, portraying anxiety and fear.
  • Yowling: A yowl is a long, drawn-out meow that sounds distressed. It’s often accompanied by crying and howling.

ALSO TRY: Why Does My Cat Lay On My Shoes?

Other Unusual Behaviors When Cats Sleep

Besides twitching, cats exhibit other weird behaviors that leave their parents with unanswered questions like, “Why do cats sleep with their eyes open?” Some of the unusual behaviors when cats sleep include:

  • Sleeping with their eyes open
  • Kneading
  • Jerky movement
  • Chattering
  • Chirping, yowling, and hacking
  • Curling up in a furry ball

Check out this cool video of a cat kneading during sleep.

FAQs

Do cats dream about their owners?

Yes, cats dream about their owners when they recall fond memories of them during the day.  (7)

Why does my cat look like she’s having a seizure while sleeping?

a vet petting a cat

If your cat looks like she’s having a seizure while sleeping, it could signify an underlying health condition. Take him to the vet for a check-up.

Conclusion

Cat twitching in sleep is a normal behavior exhibited during the REM stage. It’s often accompanied by dreaming.

There’s no point worrying if you see your cat twitching in his sleep. It’s a natural cat behavior.

Do Cats Twitch in Their Sleep

Now that you know the reasons behind your cat twitching in its sleep. Please let us know what you think of it down in the comments!

Resources

  1. src=”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/4bfa50b9274fc2959aff049499f723b3?s=50, img alt=”Meghan Jones, et al. “Why Do Cats Sleep so Much?” Reader’s Digest, 20 Apr. 2020, www.rd.com/article/why-do-cats-sleep-so-much/.
  2. “How Long Do Cats Sleep?” Sleep Foundation, 10 Sept. 2021, www.sleepfoundation.org/animals-and-sleep/how-much-do-cats-sleep#:~:text=Cats%20have%20a%20polyphasic%20sleep. Accessed 28 May 2022.
  3. “Involuntary Muscle Trembling in Cats.” Www.petmd.com, www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/neurological/c_ct_tremors. Accessed 28 May 2022.
  4. “Seizures and Epilepsy in Cats.” Vca_corporate, vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/seizures-and-epilepsy-in-cats.
  5. “Seizures and Convulsions in Cats.” Www.petmd.com, www.petmd.com/cat/emergency/common-emergencies/e_ct_seizures_and_convulsions.
  6. “Behavioural and Eeg Effects of Paradoxical Sleep Deprivation in the Cat.” Sommeil.univ-Lyon1.Fr, sommeil.univ-lyon1.fr/articles/jouvet/picps_65/.
  7. Advisor, Sleep. “Do Cats Dream? What Do They Think about When They Sleep?” Sleep Advisor, 8 June 2020, www.sleepadvisor.org/do-cats-dream/#:~:text=Yes%2C%20cats%20dream%20about%20their.
Andreea Juganaru
Andreea Juganaru

Andreea is a very passionate content creator and her purpose is to provide you with the most interesting articles, while constantly discovering new facts. She’s been freelance writing for the past five years and has created numerous articles and educational materials while managing her own business.
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