Why Is Your Cat Yawning?

kitten yawning
(Last Updated On: June 11, 2021)

Seeing your kitten yawn is one of the cutest things you’ll experience as a cat owner. But when your cat starts yawning excessively it begs the question, what causes cats to yawn. As it turns out there’s quite a few reasons and theories around the subject. Let’s check out a few of them below.

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11 Reasons Why Your Cat is Yawning

To Keep from Falling Asleep

Cats may want to stay awake for a variety of reasons, whether it’s waiting for you to serve them their food or to keep an eye on a favorite new toy. If there’s a good enough reason to stay up, your cat will yawn to keep himself awake for it.

To Inhale More Air

Yawning allows more oxygen to come into the body, while at the same time preventing your cat from having a surplus of carbon dioxide, which can be dangerous to the body. And if done frequently, could mean that your cat has low oxygen levels and should probably see the vet for an examination.

When They Are Bored

Yawing is probably the most honest involuntary expression of boredom whenever we find ourselves in less than amusing or tedious situations. Your cat is no different. Yawning could be your cat’s way of showing you that they’re bored and would most probably rather be doing something else with their time.

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To communicate with you and other cats

Yawning is part of the body language used by cats to show that they’re in a calm and relaxed state. In a way your cat’s saying to his buddies, “Hey I’ve got a full set of sharp teeth too!”

When they’re sleepy

You might notice that sometimes a cat’s yawn is accompanied by kneading of the paws, which is a clear communication that she’s tired or sleepy or both. It’s similar to how humans yawn when feeling sleepy as well.

Yawning is contagious

Science has proven that yawning is contagious among humans and among humans and dogs, and the same goes for cats. So your cat might just be picking up the yawning cues from you without even being aware of it.



Cats may seem aloof but they have feelings too. Things like moving house, having new siblings or dealing with a sickness may make your kitten weary. In this case your cat may become stressed out and struggle to fall asleep, and resort to yawning as a way to deliver more oxygen to the brain in a bid to keep themselves awake.

Show affection

Sometimes a cat’s yawn will be accompanied by shows of affection such as rubbing herself or kneading her paws on your body. Yawning can also be a sign to show that they feel a sense of safety and belonging with you. Safe enough to let her guard down and show that she’s sleepy or tired.


Believe it or not, the act of yawning involves a number of muscle groups that form part of the spinal column. And as you may have noticed, a cat’s yawning may be accompanied by stretching of the legs in a down dog yoga position. Meaning that the yawning is just a part of the stretching routine to relax the muscles to keep your cat flexible and limber as ever.

Release energy

Yawning is a great way for cats-and humans- to burn off surplus energy in order to get into a relaxed state as part of the transition to sleep.

Show off their teeth

One theory actually postulates that yawning is a primitive way for cats to show off their sharp pearly whites to other animals.

This would make sense especially when it comes to larger feline predators like tigers and lions, who may use yawning as a way to show their powerful ‘jaws’ to reinforce the pecking order of their habitat.

Your cat could just be responding to his inner primitive drives to do the same thing.



The most important thing when it comes to yawning is that everybody yawns, fish, birds, dogs, cats, monkeys- even unborn babies yawn! But obviously if your cat is exhibiting signs of excessive yawning it could be a sign of something more sinister like having respiratory problems. So do get him checked at the vet for that if your concerned.

If your cat doesn’t yawn that often, you could have fun with this yawning thing by testing one of these theories. Why don’t you yawn in front of your cat’s face to see if they respond by also yawning? Would be interesting wouldn’t it?

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