What Does It Mean When a Cat Twitches in Its Sleep?

by Ella Miller, Demand Media
    Cats may twitch during their deepest stage of sleep.

    Cats may twitch during their deepest stage of sleep.

    Cats spend a large portion of their lives fast asleep in kitty la-la land. Sometimes during a catnap, you may notice your cat twitching and wonder what it means. While they sleep up to 16 hours in a day, small twitches are usually not a threat.

    Small Twitches

    The American Animal Hospital Association notes that many cats experience small twitches during nap times. Some experts believe that these twitches may be similar to what humans experience during their rapid eye movement sleep. During rapid eye movement, humans experience dreams and it is during this time that the deepest sense of sleep is enjoyed. Those small twitches could be your kitty simply dreaming about chasing a mouse or playing with her other feline friends.

    Three Types of Sleep

    Cats experience three different stages of sleep. They doze off into small catnaps, which are nothing more than a light power-nap. When a cat is napping, he is very much alert of his surroundings. His nose and ears act as his radar. This is a natural protective mechanism that allows him to get a little rest while still maintaining a sense of alertness over his environment. They also enjoy longer times of sleep that still are considered a light sleep -- this can work itself into the third type of sleep, which is a deep sleep. Cats will cycle in and out of light and deep sleep. During the deep sleep stage, which only lasts from six to seven minutes, your cat will be in a deep sense of relaxation. During these few minutes, your cat may twitch or quiver.

    Seizures

    Small twitching during sleep is nothing to be alarmed at when your cat is sleeping. If your cat's body stiffens up completely while he twitches, this is something to inform your veterinarian about. Light seizures normally don't occur only during sleep -- they also would show up during kitty's waking hours. If your cat twitches during sleep and is not experiencing lethargy, loss of appetite or vomiting, the small twitches you may spot from time to time are nothing to worry about.

    Total Relaxation

    To help your kitty work her way into the deep slumber where twitching may occur, provide her with a sleeping area that is elevated with a comfortable temperature. Cats feel secure in a high spot where they are protected from other stimuli, such as other animals in the house. In temperatures below 55 degrees, Kitty may curl up into a tight ball with her head and tail tucked close to her body. Warmer temperatures tend to relax her sleeping position more, with her paws comfortably placed in front of her.

    About the Author

    Ella Miller has been writing for health, beauty and animal health/welfare publications for more than six years. She has firsthand experience volunteering with animal rescue nonprofit organizations. Miller studies journalism with a minor in animal science at Middle Tennessee State University. She is also a licensed cosmetologist.

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