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Why Do Cats Yawn

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Cats yawn for various reasons, including boredom, stress, irritation, relaxation, attention-seeking, and as part of their routine.
  • Yawning is usually nothing to worry about, but changes in yawning frequency accompanied by breathing problems should be checked by a veterinarian.
  • Cats can yawn when happy, relaxed, or to communicate their sleepiness or hunger.
  • Yawning can also be a way for cats to relieve stress and increase oxygen flow to their brain.
  • Different types of cat yawns can indicate tiredness, sleepiness, happiness, boredom, asserting dominance, or regulating body temperature.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Highly educated researcher and DVM with extensive experience in Clinical VetMedicine, Veterinary Nano Medicine, and Preventive Veterinary Medicine.
Published on
Sunday 3 December 2023
Last updated on
Monday 30 October 2023
Why Do Cats Yawn
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The first thought that crosses our minds when we see a cat yawn is how cute they are. However, aside from feeling sleepy or tired, there are other reasons why they yawn. So, in this article, we are going to discuss why cats yawn so much if you should worry about their constant yawning and the different types of yawns. Furthermore, we will also answer your most frequently asked questions about yawning! 

Why Do Cats Yawn a Lot 

Yawning is a behavior normal in animals and humans. Despite being common, its biological function remains a mystery today. Thus, many ongoing studies aim to know the function of yawning in humans. 

However, in felines, there are definitive answers on why they yawn. Since there are many possible reasons why cats yawn a lot aside from being weary and sleepy. With that, we are going to discuss it one-by-one:


The first common cause is boredom. You might anticipate hearing your cat yawn frequently if it is bored and disinterested in its surroundings. Kitties can also not control their yawns; thus, this might be their body’s reflex to lack of entertainment. 

Health Issues

Felines may yawn due to medical problems. If your kitten is yawning excessively, you should take them to the doctor. This is particularly true if they are experiencing any discomfort in their mouths, such as a cut or a sore tooth. Even though this is not common, we recommend going to the veterinarian to ensure that it is not medically related. 


If your feline feels irritated, it may start to yawn. You can observe this behavior when your cat yawns without stretching. In addition, they usually yawn irritatedly when you pet your feline while it is sleeping.


Cats that are well-cared for, whether via proper nutrition or adequate attention, will also yawn. If you are playing with your feline and spending time with it and you notice that it begins to yawn, it can be because they are at ease and relaxed.

Seeking Attention

Your cat may yawn or meow to get your attention if it is feeling particularly clingy.  With that, yawning can also be their way of communicating with you.


Similar to irritation, your kitten can also yawn if they feel stressed. A cat may yawn when she is uneasy, just like people may bite their nails when they are anxious. A kitty will relax by yawning since it makes them breathe deeply.

Waking Up

When cats wake up, their first response may be yawning or stretching. Because cats adore having routines, yawning may be a part of your cat’s normal morning routine. When cats wake up, they first extend every muscle in their bodies, giving themselves a great, deep stretch from the nose to the tail. Following that, they yawn to unwind their jaw and face muscles. 

Thus, yawning might be their relaxing way to wrap up a restful nap or a full night’s sleep, assisting felines in getting ready for the remainder of the day.

Should You Worry If Your Cat Is Yawning?

In most cases, yawning is something you should not worry about. In reality, contented yawn when they’re weary or first awake. Felines who are anxious or stressed out may yawn less since their awareness will stop them from doing so.

But there are times when you have to start keeping an eye out for their yawning habits. The first indicator of illness is yawning which is often accompanied by other symptoms. A cat exhibiting more respiratory abnormalities needs to be examined very away.

This involves unusual sounds, heavy panting, blue or pale gums, quicker breathing than usual, or forced airflow into and out of the lungs. Additionally, a cat should be examined by a veterinarian if it is not eating well, is sluggish, has severe vomiting or diarrhea, is drinking more water, or hides more often.

Furthermore, felines need to be treated by a veterinarian right away if they exhibit excessive yawning or anytime there are any behavioral abnormalities, including increases in the frequency of yawning. It can be a symptom of a deeper ailment.

Types of Cat Yawns

Aside from having various reasons behind yawning, there are also different types of yawns. Body language is crucial, especially when it comes to our feline friends. It might reveal a lot about your cat’s personality and disposition.

A feline’s social yawning habit makes up a sizable portion of its body language, and when combined with other expressions, it may reveal a lot about how your kitty is feeling. Yes, felines can yawn just as their human counterparts do when they’re tired. But this is only one of the causes of a cat yawning.

The brain’s oxygen levels rise and carbon dioxide is produced when a kitty, or anyone, yawns. This makes both ourselves and our feline pals more awake and active. With that, the different types of cat yawns can be tiredness, sleepiness, happiness, boredom, asserting dominance, or just simply regulating their body temperature

Why Do Cats Yawn: FAQs

Now, before we officially wrap this article, here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about why cats yawn: 

Do cats yawn when happy?

Yes, cats yawn when happy. According to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (n.d), if your cat leans back, bends its spine, stretches its legs, and relaxes with a yawn, there is a big chance that it is feeling happy and contented. 

What does it mean when a cat yawns when you talk to them?

Since cats do not yawn to show aggression, it means that they feel relaxed and at ease every time they yawn while you are talking to them. In addition, there are also studies about contagious cat yawning – or when they yawn when they see you yawn. These studies are trying to find whether it is related to your cat feeling empathy towards you.

Do cats yawn to show their teeth?

It is part of the feline family’s genes to assert dominance over their prey through showing off. With that, PETA stated that when a cat’s yawn is accompanied by a showing of teeth, it can be a sign of showing off their sharp teeth

Why do cats look at you and yawn?

Your cat may look at you and yawn as a sign of communication. For example, they might yawn at you to let you know that they are feeling sleepy or tired. Plus, it can also be their way of saying that they feel hungry.

Do cats yawn to relieve stress?

Yes, cats can also yawn to relieve stress. As mentioned, this behavior is similar to humans who bite their nails when they feel nervous. Yawning helps them relieve stress because it allows them to breathe deeply and provides extra oxygen to their brain. And, extra oxygen encourages blood flow to their brain.   

In conclusion, there are many reasons why cats yawn so much. These reasons include boredom, stress, irritation, relaxing, attention seeking, being part of a routine, and rarely, health issues. Moreover, yawning among cats is usually nothing to be worried about. However, if you notice that there are changes in their yawning frequency and it is accompanied by breathing problems, we recommend consulting with your veterinarian. 

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