Here’s What Dogs and Cats Dream About

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We all know the silly scene of a dog, deep in slumber, energetically scuffling its paws in the mime of a fast run.

Looking from the outside, it’s hard not to wonder what’s going on in their heads. USA Network recently performed a study in celebration of its new psychological thriller Falling Water, premiering Oct. 13 at 10/9c, which explores the intersection of reality and dreams. For the study, USA asked Americans whose dreams they would like to hack if given the chance? Pets were the top of the list.

Since jumping into our animals’ dreams isn’t a reality yet, we did the next best thing and talked to Dr. Deirdre Barrett, who is a teacher and a Clinical and Evolutionary Psychologist at Harvard Medical School, about what humans know about animal dreams, and what is still uncharted. 

Mesmerized by dreams at an early age, Dr. Barrett pursued a career where she could study these nightly phenomenons in humans, and she has learned quite a bit about animals along the way.

How are animal dreams different from human dreams? 

Anything about what animals dream, or even if they dream, is speculative. The only two animals even suggested to have ever told their dreams to a human are the signing gorillas Koko and Michael. Researcher Penny Patterson reports that Koko occasionally signs about fantastic events, people and places she has not seen recently only upon awakening. Michael, who is known to have been captured when poachers killed his entire family, sometimes wakes up and signs “Bad people kill gorillas.”