Kitten hugs! What do they mean? Amanda Fiegl at National Geographic News has the hard-hitting answers you've been waiting for. This is why I love the Internet.
Folks who've commented on this video seem convinced that this kitten is having a nightmare. But do kittens really have nightmares, or dreams at all?
Well, the kitten's clearly dreaming. It may not be a nightmare, it may be running after a mouse; we'll never know. Naysayers will say: You can't prove cats dream. But if you measure brainwaves in cats, dogs and several other animals, it's clear that they go through a period of rapid-eye movement, or REM sleep, when the brain is very active. In humans, exactly the same thing happens--and that's when we dream. I read a study that kittens do a lot of this kind of sleeping in their early life, as their brain is developing. And I believe it makes sense that REM sleep is not only associated with the maturation of neurons in the brain, but also with dreaming processes. As kittens begin to sense the world around them, those things can be regurgitated in sleep in the form of dreams.
Cat Hugging Video: What's Really Going On? — National Geographic News Watch
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.