Weird things pop up in your dreams all the time — things you’d think have no business being there: People you've never met; activities you've never undertaken; abilities you've never had (raise your hand if you’ve ever gone full superhero and flown in a dream). Sometimes, though, your nightly wanderings play host to more… mundane things. Like, for example, cats. Whether you love them or are 100% team dog, if you're dreaming about mouse-chasing fuzzballs, it's understandable to wonder what it means when you dream about cats.
Cats are pretty excellent dream fodder, though. They have centuries of artistic and mythological symbolism attached to them, yet they're a familiar sight in most people's daily lives — making them ideal ambassadors to your subconscious minds. Look at them, skittering around, bringing messages from your deepest inner self, and then darting off to go play with a stray piece of tinfoil (the tinfoil is a metaphor for your soul, obvi).
To help you decode what your cat dreams mean, Bustle spoke with a certified dream analyst for the different reasons behind those feline-themed nights.
Why You're Having Dreams About Cats
"Dreams are subconscious thoughts," says certified dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg. If you're dreaming about cats, she says it's not random — it's your subconscious making metaphors about what's going on in your life. "The cat in your dream is some part of you or something or someone that directly affects you," Loewenberg says. "The state or condition of the cat, the behavior of the cat, how you interact with the cat, what you think about the cat and feel about the cat while in the dream, all these things will likely correlate to what is going on in your life right now."
Cats may also represent sexual energy and intimacy, Loewenberg tells Bustle — so if you're preoccupied with something in your sex or love life, cat dreams may be in your future. Relatedly, if you're a person who menstruates, Loewenberg suggests that your cat dreams may be tied to getting your period and the emotions around that.
What the cat in your dream is actually doing might also affect its symbolism. "The state of the cat and the behavior of the cat in your dream will be similar to something going on in your waking life," Loewenberg says. "A missing cat could mean you feel something is missing in the intimacy department. A playful cat could mean you are having a lot of fun in that department, while a biting or scratching cat can be a warning from your subconscious that what you are engaging in could be harmful to you." Her take is that biting and scratching cats in dreams are pretty common to those who have difficult PMS symptoms.
What Do Cat Dreams Mean?
Depending on your own beliefs, any number of the religious, mythological, or folkloric interpretations of cat symbolism could explain why a cat popped up in one of your dreams, and what such an appearance might mean for you. Cats show up as symbols in a wide variety of circumstances and situations — the Egyptian deity Bastet, for example, was traditionally depicted as part-cat; sometimes her head was that of a lion, while others, it was that of a domesticated cat. She was seen as a deity of protection, fertility, music, and dance. Meanwhile, in folklore and mythology across a wide range of cultures, cats have been believed to do everything from stealing the breath from babies to causing both good luck and bad.
When reflecting on your dreams about cats, you'll also want to consider your relationship to cats in your waking life, says Loewenberg. "Are you highly allergic to cats and avoid them at all costs? Then the cat in your dream may represent a person in your life or a behavior of yours that is not good for you and that you need to avoid," she explains. "Does the independent, aloof nature of a cat stand out to you? Then the cat in your dream may represent your own need for independence."
She also points to the fact that cats are known to always land on their feet. "If that's what first comes to mind when you think of the nature of a cat, then the cat may represent your own ability to wind up still standing after a difficulty," says Loewenberg.
Essentially, cat dreams can mean different things for different people, and whether or not you're a cat person might impact what your kitten nightmares symbolize.
How To Soothe Your Cat Dreams
If your cat dreams are upsetting you, tune into what's going on IRL to try to fix your sleep land. "The best way to change or end any upsetting dream is to pinpoint the issue it is connected to and correct it, therefore not giving the dream a reason to come back," says Loewenberg. "When a dream is upsetting or frightening you, ask yourself what is going on in your waking life right now that brings about that same emotion. What is the most upsetting or frightening issue or person in your life right now?" This is what your dream is trying to help you process, she explains.
Add what cats mean to you IRL plus what they're doing in your dreams, and you might find the perfect metaphor for that sticky situation with your partner or that conflict with your boss. Work to address those dilemmas in your waking life, and your dreams may become less catty.
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