Breathing becomes deep and staggered, the eyes begin to dance beneath their lids, the face muscles relax as the arms and legs tremor, the paws clench, whiskers and tail twitch, and the cat dreams. I wonder what felines dream about when they enter Rapid Eye Movement (REM) deep sleep. Mice, running from danger, eating? Both my cats are virgins so it isn’t about sex, right?
Catnaps are a frequent light sleep. They are still listening and can instantly wake up to run or fight; their survival depends upon this ability. It is only when they feel safe can they slumber. I love watching my cat’s nap turn into REM. Their face softens as their muscles give way. Zozo looks particularly peaceful when she enters the valley of dreams. Sometimes she will jolt and wake herself up from a dream. She blinks her eyes and yawns to adjust the side of her face and whiskers that are askew. Her ears twitter and flatten as she yawns. As an indoor feline, she has the luxury of having time to regain consciousness. If she were outside, she could die if a predator pounced while she was waking up.
I know that the cats trust me when they crawl up on me and enter REM while I’m sitting on the couch. It’s great when both cats are dreaming simultaneously. Zozo prefers to sleep on my right side either on top of or under a soft fleece blanket. Tilly will sleep on top or under a blanket (during cold weather) or on a fleece blanket that I place on top of a footrest. She snores when she retires on her right side. I wish that I had a video camera and could post her antics on You Tube. Occasionally, one of them will crawl up on my chest and sleep. I call that “tummy time” because I can rub their soft belly more easily. The only time that it poses a problem is when I am trying to read a book and the cat complains when I turn the page.
Momo, my first cat, would cry in her sleep. Not a moan or groan but a cry of fear. I would go to her and provide reassurance by petting her gently and talking in a comforting voice. I don’t know if it helped but she would usually purr when she woke up from her nightmare. She had been abused and neglected by her previous human servants so I know that she had painful memories. About two years after I got her, her former human provider came by my house. Momo was terrified. She did want him to touch her. I had to assure her that she was safe and she didn’t purr until he had left the house. Thankfully, Zozo and Tilly have never been subjected to that despicable behavior. They only cry about lack of treats and access to the second floor. Poor creatures!
Bliss is sitting on the porch reading with both cats relaxed. Tilly likes to sleep in the open window with her head resting on the sill. Zozo will snooze on the couch. I sip some tea or a glass of wine and enjoy the peace and quiet. During the winter, we snuggle under a blanket on the couch but it is wonderful. I know that they are dependent upon me but they could choose to sleep elsewhere. They want to be with me and that feels great.
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