When your dog sleeps and does that running thing, you can imagine that she is dreaming of bounding over fields. Likewise when you watch your cat bat his paw in his sleep, it’s easy to see how this might be a fantasy about catching the biggest red dot ever.
Well both scenarios could be true AND involve you, their favorite human, according to People. Dr. Deirdre Barrett, teacher and a Clinical and Evolutionary Psychologist at Harvard Medical School, recently talked to the magazine about animal dreams, and says that pets might be thinking about the people they know during their dreams.
“Since dogs are generally extremely attached to their human owners, it’s likely your dog is dreaming of your face, your smell and of pleasing or annoying you,” Barrett told the magazine.
She said that because people dream about things they like IRL — even if it’s all crazy and upside-down and sometimes involve your not wearing pants — “there’s no reason to think animals are any different.”
Cats, however, might dream with less emphasis on the whole “pleasing humans” thing. In experiments, a sleep researcher was able to turn off the part of the brain that inhibits acting out one’s dreams during sleep and observed some dreaming cats.
“Cats lay quietly through the other stages of sleep, and when REM began, they leapt up, stalked, pounced, arched their backs and hissed,” Barrett said. “They looked like they were hunting mice in their dreams.”
Or, maybe, they were defending their owners? It’s a stretch, but we can, um, dream… right?