cat yawning

Why Do Cats Yawn?

Last Updated on August 4, 2023 by admin

Cats yawn for many reasons, just like humans do. It is thought that cats may yawn to communicate boredom, unease, or to de-escalate aggression. Another theory is that cats yawn when they are torn between two drives: namely, being tired but forcing themselves to stay awake. Cats may also yawn due to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the body, as a way of increasing oxygen intake. Finally, cats may yawn when they need to regain energy before being active again. All in all, cats yawn for many of the same reasons as humans.


The Arousal Theory

The Arousal Theory has been suggested to explain why cats yawn. This theory suggests that yawning may be an attempt to increase alertness and arousal levels. The sudden, sharp inhalation of a yawn, combined with the stretching of the limbs, is believed to promote alertness and wakefulness. Recent studies have shown that yawn duration is a reliable predictor of brain size and complexity in diverse species, including cats, dogs, and chimpanzees. Furthermore, it has been suggested that dopamine agonists, which increase arousal levels, can also trigger a yawn. Thus, the Arousal Theory of yawning provides support for the idea that cats yawn in order to increase alertness.

What Does It Mean When Cats Yawn at You?

When cats yawn at you, it can mean several things. Firstly, yawning is a form of communication and body language for cats. If a cat yawns when seeing their owner, it often indicates that they feel comfortable and at ease in their presence. This can be seen as a positive sign, suggesting that the cat has a strong bond with their owner. Yawning can also be a way for cats to take in more oxygen and reenergize themselves. Sometimes, cats yawn simply because they are sleepy. However, it’s important to note that yawning can also be a subtle signal that the cat is feeling uneasy or disrupted by something in their environment. Therefore, it is crucial to pay attention to other cues and body language to fully understand the meaning behind a cat’s yawn.

Do Cats Yawn When Happy?

Cats are more likely to yawn when they feel comfortable, safe, and all their needs are met. In fact, yawning can be a sign of contentment in cats. When a cat is in a relaxed and happy state, it may yawn as a way to release tension and communicate its overall well-being. However, it’s important to note that an anxious cat would be less likely to yawn, as its focus would be on staying alert rather than displaying signs of relaxation. Unlike dogs, cats do not appear to yawn in reaction to excitement. While the exact reason why cats (and humans) yawn is still uncertain, scientists have theories. Yawning may serve as a way to regulate brain temperature, increase oxygen intake, or even as a form of social bonding.

Why Does My Cat Yawn When I See Her?

When your cat yawns upon seeing you, it likely serves multiple purposes. Firstly, cats yawn to take in more oxygen and awaken themselves, suggesting that your presence may be invigorating or exciting for them. Additionally, yawning can be a sign of contentment and relaxation in the presence of their owner, indicating that they feel comfortable and at ease with you. Yawning can also occur when cats are well-fed or feeling sleepy, suggesting that they are in a state of physical well-being. Moreover, yawning can be a way for cats to bond with their owners, particularly during play or when welcoming them home. However, it is important to note that yawning can also indicate irritation if the cat is petted while sleeping or grooming. Lastly, excessive yawning in cats can be a sign of stress, so it’s essential to observe other behavioral cues to ensure your cat’s overall well-being.

Do Cats Yawn When You Yawn?

Cats do yawn similarly to humans and other animals, as they open their mouths wide, take in a deep breath, and then follow up with a shorter exhalation. However, if a cat yawns when you yawn, it is most likely a coincidence or a learned behavior rather than a contagious response. While contagious yawning has been observed in lions, it is still open for debate whether cats yawn contagiously. Cats appear to yawn for similar reasons as humans, but it remains unknown if one cat’s yawn can stimulate yawning in their companions. Therefore, while cats may exhibit yawning behavior, it is unclear if they directly respond to human yawning in a contagious manner.

Decreasing Oxygen Levels

The physiological theory suggests that yawning is a response to low oxygen levels in the blood. When cats, or any other mammal, yawn, the brain’s oxygen levels increase and carbon dioxide is released. This allows them to take a deep breath and quickly inhale extra oxygen, stimulating blood flow in the brain. Additionally, recent studies have suggested that yawning evolved as a brain cooling mechanism due to larger brains needing more thermolytic needs and brain activity. However, experiments involving subjects breathing pure oxygen did not show decreased yawning, indicating that there may be more at play than just a need for oxygen.

De-escalating Aggression

Yawning may also be used by cats as a way to de-escalate aggression. It has been seen as a submissive trait or a passive approach towards aggression similar to being nervous or stressed. Humans display the same behaviors when they are anxious or uncomfortable. Cats may yawn when they sense danger or tension between two cats, in an attempt to show that they are not a threat and don’t wish to fight. This can be seen as a form of communication that may prevent further aggression from occurring.

Regaining Energy

Cats often yawn and stretch when they wake up in the morning as a way of regaining energy. The act of yawning is their way of quickly inhaling extra oxygen to stimulate blood flow in their brains and release excess carbon dioxide. This helps them to feel more alert and energized, allowing them to be active again. Yawning also increases the oxygen levels in the brain, so cats can think more clearly and respond faster to stimuli. This is why cats often yawn when they’ve been sleeping – they need that extra boost of energy to make sure they’re ready for whatever comes their way.

Communicating Contentment

Cats often yawn when contented, relaxed, and sleepy. It may be an attempt to communicate. Cats yawning show a contented and relaxed mood to other cats. Even though it shows off all their teeth, cats don’t yawn to show aggression. Actually, it is usually the opposite. Yawns are more about comfort and are a way for cats to convey their contentment to their owners. If your cat yawns when seeing you, it is a sign that they trust you and feel safe in your presence.

Cooling the Head

Many scientists believe that yawning helps to cool the brain; it’s thought that the act of inhaling oxygen helps to decrease the temperature of the brain. Studies have found that vertebrates may yawn more when their environment is warmer, and cats have been observed to yawn more when they are in direct sunlight. Yawning can therefore be seen as a normal, adaptive mechanism for regulating body temperature.

Increasing Blood Flow

Yawning can also increase blood flow to the brain, as jaw stretching and deep inhalation of air replace warmed blood in the brain with fresh oxygen. Yawns may effect a stimulation of the brain through increased activity of the circulation. This increased activity of circulation is thought to be caused by changes in intracerebral flow of blood, which can be triggered by certain chemicals in the brain that cause us to yawn. By yawning, cats can compress their facial muscles, driving oxygen-enriched blood to the head and helping them stay alert, energized, and focused.

Tension Between Two Drives

While many cats yawn to express contentment or to cool their heads, some experts believe that cats may also yawn when they are torn between two different drives. For example, a cat may be tired and want to go to sleep, but is forcing himself to stay awake. In this case, the cat may be sending a message with his yawn – he is expressing his inner tension between these two conflicting drives. Furthermore, cats may yawn at other cats as a form of communication. For instance, one cat may yawn at another in order to let them know that he’s feeling relaxed and isn’t a threat. This could be beneficial in de-escalating aggressive situations before they get out of hand.

Signaling Boredom or Unease

Cats may also yawn to communicate boredom or unease. If your cat is feeling uneasy or nervous, they may yawn to show this. Similarly, cats may yawn if they are feeling bored, just like humans do. This is particularly true if they are kept alone for long periods of time or kept in a small area without stimulation. When cats yawn due to boredom, it is usually accompanied by stretching or other forms of physical activity to release the built up energy. In this context, yawning helps cats to reduce boredom and regain energy.

Yawning as a Communicative Act

Cats don’t just yawn to express their own feelings; they also do it to communicate with other cats. The very act of yawning is calming for cats, taking that deep breath into the lungs relaxes and prepares them for sleep. Yawns can therefore be used to signal relaxation and contentment to other cats in the vicinity. In many cases, cats can yawn for the same reasons that humans do. Yawning is usually a sign that a cat (or a human) needs to expel built-up energy and tension. But it can also be a sign of communication between two cats, either letting the other know they are relaxed and not a threat, or as a way of saying hello. Researchers have also suggested that cats may use yawning as a way of letting other cats know they are feeling relaxed and friendly.