Feline Waking Sleep Paralysis

, posted: 13-Aug-2010 21:42

This is a new one on me. 

This evening I was sitting in front of the monitor typing away, no surprises there, and I had one of the (seven) cats (specifically, Scully (yes named after the character) a petite black female adult cat, I guess 8 or 9 years old) asleep on my knee, nothing unusual there either.  Anyway I was typing away and I felt the cat move in an odd way, I looked down and here she is eyes wide open, craning her neck backwards staring right up at me.

If that wasn't odd enough, it was clear she wasn't all there, lights were on but nobody was home, as if she didn't know where the hell she was, who I was, who she was, nothing was making sense.  She put her head back down and let out a very strange half meow half groan at this point as if to say "what the hell is going on".  Seeming like she was about to slide right off my knee head first on to the floor I moved her over on my knee and by this time she was drooling, this cat never drools. 

I picked her up and she was limp like a rag doll, no response at all.  By this time I'm going over the possibilities, stroke, dehydration, poisoning, where the emergency vet is and how I'd get her there (car is offline at the moment) etc...   I gave her an "oi! wake up" shake, but no response.

Then I called her name and she completely snapped out of it stood up and walked across the desk to find somewhere else to sit and is at this moment 100% normal again.

The best I can come up with is poor Scully just had an episode of waking sleep paralysis, and it was the most unusual thing I have ever seen any of my cats do, ever.  

Anybody who has experienced waking sleep paralysis will probably tell you that it's completely terrifying, they are not kidding, for me it seems to manifest itself in not being able to open my eyes, or move, or breathe, struggling against it makes it worse but I can't help but struggle against it even when I tell myself not to.  Eventually my muscles go instantly dead to alive and I wind up bolt-upright in bed like a catapult getting released.

For me, who kind of knows what is happening, it's terrifying.  

I can't imagine how it must have been for the cat.

Other related posts:
Toshiba FlashAir quickly hacked togethor syncronisation script
Equivalent Parallel Resistor Network Finder Using Your Personal Stock List
Stuff: "Beside Vigil"

Comment by hellonearthisman, on 13-Aug-2010 22:15

Wild or it's Friday the 13th.

Comment by Pctek, on 16-Aug-2010 13:23

Sounds like an epileptic attack to me. Go get him checked out at the vet - the fact that he was OK after doesn't mean anything.

Comment by andyb, on 16-Aug-2010 16:09

could be epilepsy

Author's note by sleemanj, on 16-Aug-2010 16:26

Could be I suppose, although I was under the impression that typical epileptic  fitting would result in rigidity and very rapid movements rather than the total opposite.

Never done it before, and hasn't since (in my presence) but if she does I'll certainly whip her in for a vet check.

Comment by Jamie, on 29-Oct-2015 20:45

Did this ever happen to your cat again?  I just experienced the exact same thing with mine overnight (weird movement which shook the bed and woke me, his neck craned to the side, eyes wide open, drooling, inability to move, extremely scared cry).  I picked him up  gently and straightened him out, and he quickly snapped out of it and started flicking his tail back and forth as if nothing happene, and went back to sleep. I, of course, was terrified and am now wide awake wondering if I should watch for something like this to occur again.

Author's note by sleemanj, on 29-Oct-2015 21:33


Not that I am aware of.  Seems to have been a one-off, although she doesn't live in my office any more so maybe I just haven't seen it happen.

sleemanj's profile

James Sleeman
New Zealand

PHP Programmer Extraordinaire

All views expressed are held by the poster, not necessarily any person or organisation associated therewith.