Cats Twitching: Why Do Cats Twitch In Their Sleep?

Cats love to sleep in a warm environment. If they sleep in cool places then cats may roll up to sleep. However, in warm places, cats will sleep in a relaxed position. In general, cats twitching during sleep is normal and it’s quite entertaining to watch them. But cats do twitches in different and not all those are the same. Some twitches may be the indicator of your cat issues.

When more than 2/3 of the day is dedicated to sleep, cats are experts. However, have you ever found that cats sometimes twitch during sleep?

The active or rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and the non-rapid eye movement sleep, which has three stages,

  • N1: This phase happens immediately when the cat is asleep and sleeps with light.
  • N2: The muscles relax and brain activity slows down over the next step.
  • N3: The third phase is deep sleep, so it can be difficult to wake the cat.

REM Sleep

The function of REM sleep is not completely understood, but areas of the brain that are vital to the learning and exercise of important neural connections are thought to be stimulated. Active sleep (REM) produces fast eye and twitching of legs, toes, ears, whisks, and eyes (hence the name rapid eye movement).

During REM sleep, the brain’s heart rate and blood pressure are almost as strong as when the cat is awakened.

The cats spend about 24% of their active sleep cycle.

One study showed that rats who were deprived of their REM sleep repeatedly had a significantly shorter life period from 2-3 to 5 weeks.

Non-REM Sleep

The remainder of the time is Non-REM (deep sleep). The cat’s body recovers and regenerates, muscles recreate, bones and immune cells during that time. Besides the gentle chest rise and fall, during non-REM sleep, there is no movement.

How Does Twitching Work In Cats?

Twitches are often suggested as a by-product of dreams. The cat can dream to chase a mouse that causes the limbs to shift. Studies show that twitching begins in the late fetal period in rats and in the first two weeks of life in rats, which coincides with a period of fast increase and motor abilities, which is the highest rate. This does not happen.

Cats Twitching Continues At The Age Of Adulthood

Twitches are meant to train the brain that develops the body. The muscles are atonic in an organized pattern. Twitches stimulate neural networks throughout the developing brain in the entire central nervous system.

Do Cats Dream?

In people who sleep in REM, dreams occur, but we don’t know if cats dream while sleeping, but probably they do. We never know, and they’re not asking us exactly what cats dream about.

Dreaming about human beings is designed to process and consolidate the experiences we have encountered.

Cats Twitching During Wakefulness

Twitching can also happen while the cat is awake and potentially serious.

These include bacterial calcium (low blood calcium) hypocalcemia; feline hyperesthesia; chronic renal disease; (especially pyrethrin which is a common ingredient in dog flea treatments).

Between sleep and wakefulness

You may want to hear that cats sleep between 10 and 18 hours a day if you’re deprived of sleep at all. But some cats, as with humans, are diehard couch potatoes, others are active and sporty.

Cats that are more stimulated than their less stimulated counterparts (since they are either outside or are filled with stimulation indoors) appear to sleepless.

But how are our domestic felines sleeping for hours and hours? It is common knowledge that cats are as sleepy as humans. In reality, the stage changes from light sleep to heavy sleep phases lasting about 20 minutes and followed by REM (rapid eye movement) sleep periods of about 5 minutes.

REM sleep is the stage where cats – like people – dream. If they pass quickly behind closed eyelids, and twitch vigorously their ears, whisks, paws, and tails as they perform their dreams.

We know that cats’ sleep during the day is lighter thanks to electroencephalogram testing. This half-alerting state reflects the sleep patterns of a wild cat’s cousins, where the cat is not only a predator but also a possible beast.

What Are They Dreaming Of?

REM sleep is designed for people to help reorder the brain by recreating experiences. It is therefore right to presume that cats are still reviving their everyday routines in their dreams – such as hunting, playing, caring, and social interactions. And as people have to face the odd nightmare, our cats often do so. Their visions are often peppered with images of struggles or flight scenarios that often inadvertently spark out groans or meows.

REM sleep is very important for cats and can lead to serious consequences if disturbed. Indeed, studies of human and other animal sleep deprivation have shown that sleep deprivation can affect many important behaviors, like attention, cognitive abilities, and mood.

Thus the moral of the story nowadays is to “Let the cat lie,” that is, don’t wake up while they sleep because it is a dangerous thing for anyone to do.

Is There Anything To Worry About Cats Twitching?

Well, cats twitching in sleeping seem to be cute and everybody loves to enjoy it.

However, to answer the question of too much twitching does it cause any harm to cats? The founder of ‘Juniper Valley Animal Hospital’ and the famous Veterinarian Dr. Matthew McCarthy shares as not all cats twitching during their sleep are normal and it also does not represent the same thing.

If your cat seems to twitch newly or you notice any jerky movement on your kitty when they sleep then it not a good sign. You should approach a veterinarian to cure your cat’s problem. He also suggests, it’s better to capture a video of your cat’s unusual twitching and share it with your pet’s vet so that vet can explain whether it’s normal or abnormal behavior.


If your cat twitches a little bit during sleep is normal and entertaining. Just sit back and enjoy the free show it just an indication of a good nap. If your cat’s entire body goes stiff during twitches during sleep then it’s time to visit a professional vet to check your cat’s health.