Here Are 5 Reasons Why Cats Yawn

Last updated on December 12th, 2021

Yawning is a natural involuntary behavior seen in most animal species and human beings. In fact, we even yawn seeing others yawning! And the same holds true for our pets as well.

But the question is, why do we yawn! So many animal species do it, ranging from cats, dogs, and chimps. Scientists are yet to find out the exact reason why humans, cats, and other animals yawn and why it’s so contagious!

Cats yawn because they use it as a calming signal as they wind down after an active session.

why do cats yawn

But some theories explain the reason behind yawning in cats (and other creatures).

Yawning Theories

The fun fact of the following yawning theories is that either all or most of them can be true!

Need More Oxygen

Feline species, as well as human beings, may yawn when they need to release excess CO2 (carbon dioxide). Because too much carbon dioxide indicates that the body lacks oxygen and needs more of it.

This problem can be easily solved when we take deep and long yawns to inhale more oxygen into the body.


We also yawn when we feel tired or sleepy. There’s an interesting reason behind this.

When animals feel tired, they don’t have the energy to breathe normally as they do at other times. Hence, it results in a shortage of oxygen supply in their bodies.

Yawning helps us to bring in a large amount of oxygen, which further helps to release the excess carbon dioxide.

Yawning is good for another reason when we’re tired. It boosts the heart rate by stretching our lungs. So, whatever the factor working behind our yawns is, we can safely say that it’s an involuntary action.

To Cool Our Bodies

Some recent theoretical studies opine that yawning enables us to cool our brains. When cats or other pets yawn, it expands and contracts their sinuses that allow cool air to enter the brain.

When We’re Bored

Yet some other theories suggest that we yawn when we’re bored. Sounds relatable, right? Yes, our feline members and pets get bored too.

We can apply the previous theory of tiredness here. When we’re bored, we don’t breathe properly or as deeply as it’s required to inhale enough oxygen.


We have another theory that considers yawning as an evolutionary factor. It’s basically a leftover or inherited character trait that we retained from our primitive times.

Why Do Cats Yawn?

Here are some reasons why our feline friends may be yawning. In fact, yawning may be a vital body language that signifies something, such as the mood or health of the cat.

When They Are Stretching

We all stretch after waking up in the morning and yawn a couple of times before we finally activate our muscles to start the day’s activities!

Like humans, cats too like to stretch (actually, they do these stretching sessions more than we do!)

Stretching almost always comes with yawning. Our feline members stretch their limbs while yawning after they wake up from a nap.

As a Stress Relief

If you’ve been a pet owner for some time now, you may already know that cats and dogs feel stressed too. There’s a good reason behind this animal behavior.

Often our pets aren’t able to adopt the domesticated life. Even if they have, at some point in time, their true wild behavior inherent within them by birth will spring up.

This is why many pets find it difficult to cope with this domestic life, leading to stress and anxiety.

The worst part is some animals even get depressed if they are deprived of their basic animal instincts.

At other times, when owners fail to train their feline friends appropriately or end up treating them badly, it becomes way more stressful for cats than we can ever imagine.

Cats can be good hiders at times, and they won’t even let you realize what is causing so much stress.

For instance, if an owner shouts at or scolds a cat for not behaving well, the poor creature may yawn, usually with its eyes open wide.

This yawning acts as a relief to the stress or anxiety it’s going through.

When They’re Irritated

Yes, cats can feel irritated, too, and you may have already seen such signs of irritation. For example, if you end up over-petting your furry friend, they’ll either brush off your hand, scratch you, or even give you a good bite!

Similarly, yawning is another such sign that indicates your beloved cat is irritated. For instance, if you try to pet your cat while they’re sleeping, they’ll feel irritated and start to yawn.

Your cat may also yawn when you try to stroke or pet them when they’re grooming or involved in some other interesting activity.

Often, cats yawn as a sign of irritation or annoyance, especially when they feel that their actions are being interrupted. In some cases, cats may be too sensitive or emotionally vulnerable.

In such situations, they may even get irritated even if you simply walk into the room, do something, or switch on the light without touching or talking to them.

This may also happen when they’re taking a nice and comfy nap, and your entrance had disturbed their sleep. You can see your cat yawning after that.

In simple words, cats may yawn, often followed by a scratch or swipe on their paws, as if to say, “I am feeling irritated!” or “You’ve ruined my nap!” However, after this yawning session, many cats may go back to what they’ve been doing.

When They’re Relaxing

Pet owners may also be aware of another kind of cat yawning, and that’s when these furry little creatures feel relaxed.

Cats yawn with their eyes partially or fully closed when they’re generally happy about something or when the environment has positive vibes.

You may also see this yawn when you’re petting, playing with, or cuddling your furry companion.

Did you ever wonder why your cat suddenly starts yawning when you show acts of love and compassion or try to bond with them?

You may even think, “Is she bored with me or wants me to stop petting her?” Well, now you know that’s not the case when your kitty is yawning with their eyes half or fully closed.

Oral Problems

As mentioned earlier, cats are good hiders, and you won’t even know when your beloved kitty is feeling pain or has a health problem.

This can be dangerous at times, especially when there’s something serious going on in their body that we don’t know about!

This habit of hiding pain and other ailments may have probably come from the notion that cats in pain may be seen as a vulnerable or weaker animal.

But luckily, there are certain peculiar signs and symptoms that indicate some particular health conditions your cat may be going through.

The following are some signs that come with yawning, each of which signifies that the cat could be facing some dental or other oral issues.

Unusual Eating Behavior

If your cat suddenly starts eating in an unusual pattern, such as dropping food, not finishing up the entire meal, eating oddly or slowly, or eating only on one side of the mouth (which we do when we have tooth pain on one side).

A cat may feel hungry and may show interest in food, but they’ll refuse to eat. All such signs indicate that your cat is having some oral pain and they need immediate help!

Bad Breath

Bad breath isn’t normal in cats, and if you smell such foul odors from their mouth, it may denote that your cat may be having some oral problems.

Pawing or Scratching Near the Mouth

In response to excessive pain, cats may start pawing at their mouths or scratch the skin near the mouth in an attempt to get relief from pain.


If you find your cat drooling excessively, it may also be a sign of oral discomfort. Sometimes blood may also be present in the saliva.

Whenever you see such odd yawning signs along with the abovementioned symptoms, consult your veterinarian at once. Begin the treatment immediately to avoid further health complications.

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