Weird things pop up in our dreams all the time — things you’d think have no business being there: people we’ve never met, activities we’ve ever undertaken, abilities we’ve never had (raise your hand if you’ve ever gone full superhero and flown in a dream). Sometimes, though, our nightly wanderings play host to more… mundane things. Like, for example, cats. But what does it mean if you dream about cats? We tend to assign personality traits or characteristics to animals, so when animals pop up in our dreams, they offer a fantastically rich dream decoding opportunity. This is especially the case when the animal is very familiar to us as cats are.
Although there’s deeply entrenched symbolism and mythology from different cultures surrounding cats, the thing that matters most if you dream of cats is what cats mean to you. You see, every dream symbol — whether that symbol is weird and out of this world, like a spaceship, or mundane and a part of daily life as cats are — is a chance to understand yourself better. So, whenever cats appear in your dreams, think about your perception of cats and what that perception can teach you about yourself. Do you adore them? Do you dislike them? How you feel about them will color your interpretation.
To help you understand the secret message your dreaming mind is trying to tell you, here are some personal growth themes that cats can signify in your dreams. They are based on my decades-long career writing bestselling books about dream interpretation.
When interpreting cat dreams, be aware of the mythology and symbolism that may have crept in. 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. According to a 2017 article written by Jennifer Pogue, Bastet was seen as a deity of protection, of fertility, and of music and dance.
Meanwhile, in folklore and mythology across a wide range of cultures, cats have been believed to do everything from taking the breath from babies to causing both good luck and bad, from predicting the weather to controlling the weather, and from heralding the end of life to working in concert with the devil. Depending on your own beliefs, any number of these 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.
Although some schools of thought — like, for example, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung’s — ascribe to the idea of universal dream symbols, many researchers don’t agree.
In 2012, Stephanie A. Sarkis, Ph.D., at Psychology Today wrote, “Your chipmunk is not someone else’s chipmunk. The meaning you apply to a chipmunk is what your experience has been with chipmunks in day-to-day life.” So, if your experience with chipmunks has been largely negative, any dreams you might have about chipmunks probably will be, too — but someone who’s had generally positive experiences with chipmunks will probably dream different dreams about them.
The same goes for cats. So, if you dream about cats, your best bet for interpreting that dream is to think about what your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences with cats have been rather than mythological and cultural associations. How do you feel about cats? Figuring that out might help you figure out what your brain was doing when it stuck one into your sleeping hours.
Men and women dream about cats in equal measure and for both men and women, they’re typically associated with traditionally feminine qualities, such as intuition and grace. Cats are said by many dream dictionaries to also be strongly linked to curiosity, stealth, independence, self-confidence, hidden knowledge, but alongside this is bad fortune and deception of some kind. Either you suspect someone might be deceiving you, or you might be deceiving yourself about something. With all these cat dream interpretations, there is always an element of mystery or the secretive side. Your dreaming mind is urging you to dig deep within yourself to discover what that is.
In women’s dreams, because of the strong link with femininity, dreaming of cats is associated with self-perception. It is how she connects to her intuition and personal power. So, in this sense, dreaming of cats suggests celebrating and feeling intimately connected to your feminine power. If you are a guy dreaming of a cat, this may point to the relationships you have with women in your life or with your own intuition.
But whether you are male or female and whether you love or loathe cats, generally if a cat appears in your dream this is a powerful message to listen to your intuition more. Like a cat, your intuition is always there, but it’s often hidden and you aren’t aware of it. It could also be a cry for you to become more self-reliant. Alternatively, depending on how you perceive cats, it could also represent something about yourself you don’t feel you can reveal, either because you are ashamed of it or because you lack confidence in fully expressing yourself.
Like cats, your intuition is not predictable. It surfaces when it feels like it and isn’t easily trained or contained. So paying attention to how the cat appears in your dreams is important, as it will tell you how well you are tuning into your own intuition.
If the dream cat is loving, healthy, and offering you companionship, this is a big thumbs up from your dreaming mind. You need to keep trusting your intuition. This is especially the case if the cat is talking to you or you see cat’s eyes staring at you. However, if the cat scratches you, is sick, or in poor health, this is an urgent warning from your inner wisdom that you are not listening to it. In your waking life, you need to listen less to what others are saying or what is expected of you and more to what your own truth is trying to tell you. And if a cat is missing its tail? You might feel like you have no independence or autonomy or sense of balance in your waking life.
Dreams About A Dead Cat
Given their strong link to intuition, the symbolism of a dead cat is obvious. Take some time to get to know yourself better and to listen to your inner voice. It could also suggest that you are relying too much on someone or something else for guidance and support and that you’re not making your own decisions. You urgently need some feline freedom and self-reliance injected into your life.
Dreams About Kittens
Cats are a dream symbol of self-reliance, but there is an exception to this rule and that is if they appear in the form of a helpless kitten — which represents innocence, purity, and an openness to the future. Alternatively, you may be feeling vulnerable and overwhelmed. If so, take some time to yourself and to ask for help when you need it.
Again, depending on what is going on in your waking life, dreaming of a kitten or a cat giving birth may suggest a new project or relationship or something or someone that you aren’t yet sure of or which needs nurturing to establish itself. And if you dream of many cats in your dreams, you may be feeling overwhelmed by chaos or confusion.
Dreams About Wild Cats
Wild cat dreams could suggest that you’re feeling free and independent or that you feel lonely. There could also be themes of survival, power, cunning and ferocity to pay attention to here.
Whether it’s a lion, tiger, leopard, panther or jaguar, a wild cat could suggest that you feel like you’re in a dangerous place but that any difficulties can be overcome with courage and a roar. You need to face your fears. If you can clearly identify what wild cat is chasing you, there’s a whole new world of symbolism and associations for you to delve deep into.
If it’s biting you, you might know deep down that you take too much from others and give too little in return. If it’s scratching you, you might feel threatened by something in your life. If the wild cat is attacking you, this is a sign that you’re conflicted about your desire to break free. Should claws show up, consider what is hurting you or cutting deep in your waking life. What has got a hold of you? Remember, in most cases this isn’t something or someone external but an attitude or perspective you have. Something you need to work on from the inside out. And, if any cat in your dream meows, take this as a clear sign that you really need to listen to your intuition.
Dreams About A Missing Cat
If you have lost a cat in your dream or are trying to find one, this suggests that in real life, you’re aware that you need to believe in yourself, trust yourself more but you aren’t there yet. It might be high time now for you to prioritize your own emotional needs over others. If the cat is abused or neglected, reflect on your close relationships. Are there toxic patterns of codependency? Remember, people treat you as you treat yourself.
The Color Of The Cat Matters
Although some people only dream in black and white most of us dream in vivid color, so you need to research the color associations and see if they speak to you. Is it a white cat? You might be facing “difficult times.” Is it black? You might have an unresolved fear about something. Black cats are often incorrectly considered to be signs of bad luck so this could suggest that you’re not trusting your intuition enough. If you dream of an orange cat, this is a sign of rampant creativity in your life.
Dreams About A Cat Litter Tray
Dreaming of the place where cats relieve themselves suggests that you feel guilty or ashamed of something you have said or done. Or perhaps it could suggest that you are being taken advantage of by others? You have had enough and urgently need to remove something toxic from your mind and/or your life. If you are allergic to cats and dream of them, this could suggest a negative or threatening reaction to a situation or relationship or a negative attitude that's stopping you dead in your tracks.
Dreams About Cats Chasing A Mouse
As Bustle’s Gabrielle Moss pointed out way back in 2015, though, what the cat in your dream is doing might also affect its symbolism. If the cat is chasing a mouse, your unconscious might be telling you to embrace your independence and uniqueness, no matter what anyone else thinks, according to one dream dictionary. But if it’s playing, then you might be seeing an interpretation of your own playful side — and maybe a hint that you could stand to let that playful side out more often. In a nutshell, let your hair down and have some fun.
The Bottom Line
According to Freud, cats represent erotic tension, but Jung believed cats were an archetype, a source of internal inspiration and guidance. Cats can certainly be linked to your sexual energy or be a sign that sexual adventure is on your mind or might just be on the horizon. The way forward is to express and love yourself like a cat: be quietly confident, listen to your intuition, pick your moment. Then don’t be afraid to explore and ask for what you want, just as a curious cat is prone to do.
In conclusion, whether or not you are a cat person is going to determine whether dreaming of cats feels like a dream or a nightmare. If anything about the dream upsets or confuses you, try to pinpoint what is going on in your waking life to make you feel that way. Your dreaming mind is urging you to shine the spotlight on that issue and to use your feelings about cats and the lessons they can teach you as a way to help you understand and heal from whatever is holding you back.
Seen in this light, cat dreams, like their real life counterparts, really can become your best friend, your familiar lucky charm.
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