Posted in pet health

Knitting up the ‘raveled sleeve of care’

How much does your pet sleep? If there’s one thing most people complain about in their pets, it’s that they sleep a lot. A lot more than we humans do.

A problem arises when your pet’s sleep schedule is the opposite of yours. It’s thought that some rodents, whose life depends on avoiding big creatures like humans (and cats, dogs, foxes and the like) have adapted by being nocturnal, or awake at night. So hamsters and mice make lousy pets for light sleepers. Cats, who prowl after dark to catch those fuzzy, cute little rodents, can be really annoying when we’re trying to sleep, both by delaying our getting to sleep and ruining our staying asleep as well.

As a teen, I had insomnia. My mother worried. She only saw that I would sleep through noon, and thought I was sleeping too much. She wasn’t aware of my nightly trouble in getting to sleep. Sometimes it was after 3 a.m. before I could settle down enough to rest.

I dealt with my insomnia by writing. I liked to think of it as draining the ideas out of my head, so that I could finally drift off into dreamland without thoughts interjecting themselves into my peaceful REM-time.

My sleeping habits were a problem for my sister when we were kids. I made noises in my sleep. I would roll over and fall out of bed, which would wake us both, and then I would cry. One night I even kicked my sister in the stomach. Then she got to cry. (I think I might have been a little bit awake when I kicked, because I kicked her very well indeed!)

If you see a pet twitching in its sleep, don’t you wonder what it’s dreaming? I dream in color, and I also make lucid choices in my dreams. If I’m flying in my dream – without an airplane – I can adjust my altitude according to my wish. I wonder if my cats dream of flying. They seem to watch the birds as if they’d like to join them up there in the air!

We had a mouse when our son was little. It was a nightly habit of the mouse to run in his exercise wheel. It was fine until the wheel started making noise, and broadcast the squeaking all through the house. I’d become a light sleeper by this time. Moms often develop insomnia when there’s a baby or toddler in the house. Not to be cruel, but I admit I was looking forward to the mouse meeting his demise as early as his short years made it possible.

When we brought our first kitten home, I was prepared. After a few nights of having our feet pounced on in bed, or awakening with cat fur in our noses in the morning, I knew I had to act quickly. The next opportunity that I had, I swiftly scooped up the kitten and put her outside the bedroom and closed the door. A few nights of this, and she seemed to realize that if she was going to get any attention, she needed to settle down.

If you notice your pet sleeping more or less hours than usual, it’s time to consult with your veterinarian. As pets age they can develop sleep disorders and other health problems related to aging. So keep your eyes peeled for any changes in your pet’s sleep habits, and jot down your observations to discuss them with the vet later.

Unless you’re finally getting some sleep. In that case, sweet dreams!



a little off-center, but full of good intentions