Why Do Cats Yawn?
We’ve all seen our cats open their mouths to the full extent of their width, take in a deep breath, and exhale in pleasure. Yawning can be a true act of comfort, a sign of pure relaxation, but when it is done excessively, it can also be a cry for help. But why do cats yawn anyway? While science has yet to find a clear cut explanation, there are several theories available. Here is everything you need to know about yawning in cats.
**A HUGE thank you to all the Floppycatters who submitted photos that appear on this post!**
Theory No. 1 – An Act of Relaxation
As we all know, yawning is heavily tied to the feeling of sleepiness. A few minutes before falling asleep, the cat will begin yawning and scientists believe that it is a moment that lets the brain know that it is time to settle down and rest.
Theory No. 2 – Post-Sleep Stretching
Like we humans do first thing in the AM, right after they wake up in the morning…and in the afternoon or right after that midday nap, cats start stretching their backs, their legs, right up to the tips of their paws, and then, they start yawning. This could be a way to stretch the jaw and the face muscles and start up the day in full force. Nothing like a full body stretch to get into shape, right? As a helpful tip, you should place a scratching post near your cat’s favorite sleeping spots. This will lead to a post-sleep stretching extravaganza, between yawns, of course.
Theory No. 3 – Cooling Down after Energetic Activity
After a full-body workout running around the house, you could see your cat yawning and there is a very good explanation for that. The high energy consumption leads to a decreased oxygen level in the blood, so the body sets off the yawn to replenish the oxygen and reenergize the muscles.
Theory No. 4 – Peaceful Show of Force
After a standoff with another cat, some kitties yawn as a peaceful show of force. They get to show their teeth in a peaceful gesture, which will not engage the other animal into conflict. It is a cat’s way of saying “Not today!”, but also “Don’t cross me because I can fight back!”.
Theory No. 5 – Pure and Absolute Boredom
We’ve all been there, being so bored out of your wits that you would start yawning suddenly. It is not a pleasant feeling, but it does happen quite a bit and it also happens to your cat. If you see your cat yawn repeatedly when it is in your company, even though it is not going to sleep, nor waking up right at that moment, then it may be time to consider that your cat is bored and that you need to entertain it more. Cats that don’t have enough activities could end up being overweight and depressed. If you don’t have enough time to spend with your cat during the day, there are some toys that you can leave it so that it can play alone.
Theory No. 6 – Letting Off Some Steam
Cats are true predators and they do not like to show weakness or fear. If they are nervous or they just feel uneasy, they will be seen yawning because this may discharge some of that bad energy, all while showing off their ferocious teeth. Not a bad combo for your warrior cat, right?
Theory No. 7 – Yawning is Heavily Contagious
Have you ever seen somebody yawn and before you know it, your mouth started opening in a full-blown yawn? It even happens when we hear people talk about yawning or if we read about it. We presume you’ve already yawned several times up to this part of the article. Well, yawning is also contagious in cats. If your cat will see you yawn or see another cat yawning, it will also start yawning itself.
Is there such a thing as excessive yawning in cats?
Yes, there is. When you notice that your cat’s yawning is excessive, the first thing you should do is examine its mouth (we’re going to tell you more about that right away). If you don’t see anything, then observe your cat for a few days and try to identify when it happens. That will be key to finding out the reason. You shouldn’t ignore the excessive yawning. Regardless of the reason, your cat is trying to communicate with you and it’s important that you find out what it is trying to say.
Oral Cavity Distress
The reason why you should always examine your cat’s mouth if you notice excessive yawning is that this is a way for the cat to signal distress, but also try to improve the ailment . Here is what you have to do:
- Take a good look at your cat’s mouth, examine the lips for sores, cuts or other types of wounds, hair loss, reddening of the skin (more difficult to see in black cats), or anything out of the ordinary.
- Lift up the upper lip and examine the gums and the teeth. Ideally, the gums should be pink and the teeth intact and clean. Note down any modification you see. Look for whitening of the gums or lesions on it – cuts, scratches, bloody areas. Also look for anything that may have stung the gum such as a pointy end of a toy (such as a sharp piece of plastic) or some food (such as bone pieces).
- Then pull down the cat’s lower lip and examine the gums and teeth all the way up to the back of the mouth. You are looking for the same types of issues.
Examine the tongue and the roof of the mouth as well for cuts, pricks, punctures or other lesions.
- Keep in mind that older ailments of the oral cavity lead to bad breath in cats, but new ones may not necessarily be associated with a change in odor.When cats have oral pain, you are also going to notice mouth pawing because they will try to fix what is happening. Just keep an eye out for the signs and take your cat to the vet if you do notice any changes when you examine the mouth.
Lack of Engagement and Low Energy
As we mentioned above, when cats are bored, they yawn. If you see this in your cat , you may want to consider becoming more involved in its life and making it more engaged. Play with your cat more, leave it interactive toys, and see if the yawning persists.
Sign of Systemic Disease
If the oral cavity is clear, and your cat continues to yawn but seems reluctant in engaging in various activities (you have to try its favorite play activities), then it may be time to take it for a visit to the vet. Heavy yawning could be a sign of liver and gull bladder disease, as well as systemic disease. Keep your vet informed so that you can catch any issue from its incipient stages
There are so many reasons why cats yawn – they yawn for pleasure, they yawn to signal that they’re sleepy, tired, recovering from a good run, that they miss you, or that they are in some sort of distress. Have you ever seen your cat yawning? Why do you think it was yawning when you did? Which of the seven theories does it adhere to? Tell us all about it in the comments section of this post. But, first, please enjoy more photos of Ragdoll cats yawning included below.
Bruin a seal color point age 7 loved by Tanya
Love this page? Check out our other pages that feature photos of Ragdoll cats:
- Ragdoll Cats with Blazes
- Whazz-up Cat Poses
- Ragdoll Cats in the Snow
- Pictures of Ragdoll Cats with Their Tongues Out
Do you have a photo of your Ragdoll cat yawning? Would you like it featured on Floppycats? If so, please send us the photo as well as the photo credit/caption you’d like for us (example: Blue Lynx Mitted Ragdoll cat Trigg loved by Jenny) to include and we’ll add it. Please submit it here.
Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,