Dreams about cats are a fairly common theme at bedtime. If you or a loved one has been covering this ground at night, you may have questions about what it all might mean. As part of a Huffington Post series on dreams and their meanings, we spoke to Volney Gay, professor of psychiatry, religion and anthropology at Vanderbilt University in Nashvillle, Tenn., to get expert advice about the meanings of your or your loved one’s dreams about cats. Note: While dream analysis is highly subjective, this post might provide some insight into why this dream occurred or is recurring.
What do dreams about cats mean? "A Jungian therapist doesn't tell you what a cat means," says Gay. "A Jungian therapist asks you to experience the dream and find out what it means to you."
What can I learn about myself from dreaming about cats? Gay advises you to take your dreams seriously. "Find a quiet way to enter the dream experience and re-imagine the dream," he says. Dreams are not arbitrary messages sent from the beyond, but are our own thoughts.
Are there any tricks to avoiding or inducing dreams about cats? No. "A Jungian therapist would discourage either," says Gay. You can re-experience a dream by re-imagining the dream sequence. "If you have a recurring dream," he says, "don't ignore it, listen to it. The dream is coming from yourself."
Beyond analysis, what cultural symbolism can be found in dreams about this subject? "There are a lot of religious symbols associated with cats," says Gay. Egyptians worshiped cats, and cats are represented in many early religions. "Cats also can represent wisdom or our feral versus domestic selves."
If a dreamer has no religious affiliation, can they still have religious dream imagery? "Jung would say absolutely yes," reports Gay. "It's more than organized religion. We all use symbols to explore our primal needs. These symbols help us to define our belief structure, whatever that may be."
Who tends to have dreams about cats most frequently? Women tend to report dreaming about cats slightly more than men. Adults dream more than children.
Volney Gay studied at Reed College and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology and religion from the University of Chicago. He was a graduate fellow at the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy in Chicago and is board-certified in adult psychoanalysis, is a supervising and training analyst and a member of the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute, which is an affiliated society and institute of the American Psychoanalytic Association.