Why is Your Cat Yawning at You? Are You That Boring?

Cats are not observed yawning that often, however, there are many individuals who do this a lot. If your cat yawns at you, does this mean he finds you boring? Well, that might be true, but the funny thing is, that explanations why cats yawn are not far away from reasons why humans and several other animals yawn.

Yawning is considered an involuntarily action, that is, the person yawning cannot help himself, but yawn. Here is a list of possible reasons, scientists think, cats may yawn:

  • Cats yawn to intake more oxygen. Yawning allows to intake large amount of air with one inhale; thus the amount of oxygen received by lungs is also increased. Similarly, like in humans, if the blood of the cat contains too little oxygen, it initiates yawning. If your cat is yawning excessively visiting a vet should be considered.
  • Cats may yawn because of boredom. And it’s similar to humans, it’s just as that, we get bored, we yawn. Unlike humans, though, cats probably won’t use yawning as a sarcastic way to tell someone he is boring, but cats do yawn due to boredom.
  • Cats may yawn to stay alert. In cases when an animal is tired and sleepy, but for some reason he must remain awake (like a cat waiting for his late meal to be served), he may yawn to keep him alert. That is, when he starts fading away, he yawns, and his brain gets a “restart”. It’s both because of extra oxygen received and of paying attention to the fact of the yawning itself.
  • Cats may yawn in order to communicate. That is, by yawning they may show other cats he is in a relaxed mood and poses no threat. However,  cats use their body language as a whole, and yawning alone would not tell others anything unless paired with something else. For example, if you would look at still pictures of a cat hissing and a cat yawning, the mouth in both cases would appear the same. But if you paid attention to the state of the ears and whiskers, you would notice how the cat who is yawning would have his ears and whiskers positioned sideways, or slightly forwards, instead of being backwards or downwards in case of an angry cat.
  • Cats may yawn because it’s contagious. In human science, there are proofs – if you see someone yawning, you may soon start don’t it yourself. There is also a study which shows that dogs can get contagious with human yawns, and, while we did not find similar research done on cats, we cannot think of the reason why cats be different from dogs. Other than dogs .

So, here’s a challenge for you today. Go to your cat and yawn right in his face, and see if you can get him to replicate you. Maybe he will get bored at your tries and will yawn back at you.

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2 Comments

  1. Mary Drager says:

    I find it odd that you do not mention that a cat frequently yawning can be a sign of a problem – your article would deter people from seeking a medical opinion when other websites state that yawning can be a sign/symptom of oral pain that needs treatment.
    from websites:
    ‘Excessive yawning sometimes signifies mouth ailments in cats — feline stomatitis, for instance,involves inflammation of the oral region. When cats experience excessive mouth pain, they sometimes try to deal with it by yawning’
    http://www.catchannel.com/
    The top 10 signs that your cat has oral pain include: Excessive yawning or teeth grinding

    • Hi! Thank you for your addition. We have now highlighted part where we talk about necessity to visit a vet in case of excessive yawning, because, obviously, it needs to stand out in this article.

      The case mentioned in a link you gave us, however, is not accurate. Stomatitis, gingivitis and other oral disorders does not cause yawning. It, however, can cause cat’s mouth being opened and closed more frequently than at other times, which may appear as a yawning to many cat owners. In severe conditions cats may walk with their mouth open at all times, and that is a definite sign to visit a vet.

      Thank you for your comment, we never want people to be deterred from visiting a vet. Our strongest believe is – if you see even a slight change in your pet’s behavior, it’s a good reason to visit or call a vet.

      We have talked more about it in this article: http://www.pet-happy.com/why-should-you-monitor-your-cats-behavior-changes/

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