Cats are expressive animals and have evolved over the centuries to devise many ingenious ways of communicating with us humans.
One of the more interesting methods is through the use of the mundane yawn.
When we humans yawn, it is a basic and involuntary reflex action.
But what about when cats yawn?
When your cat yawns it usually means that it is in a contented and relaxed mood. A cat yawning signifies that your pet is comfortable in your presence. It could also be taking in more oxygen into its body to flush out the excess carbon dioxide in your cat’s blood flow.
Some pet behaviorists believe when it cat yawns, it can mean more than just conveying its present mode. Yawning can also be regarded as another method of communication with us.
There are a couple of speculated theories that we will be discussing in this article.
What Is A Yawn?
Yawning has to be one of the most basic and involuntary reflex actions like burping and farting. Some could have also perfected the art of yawning and farting simultaneously.
Yawning has been long regarded as the display of feeling tired or bored. It helps the body take in a large amount of oxygen to make you feel more alert.
Most people will also stretch out their facial and upper body muscles when they yawn to help make them feel more awake.
Why Do Cats Yawn When They See You?
My cat yawns a lot and especially when he sees me. Going by the reason why we humans yawn, am I boring my cat to bits?
I certainly hope not.
Let’s take a deeper look into the nature and personality of cats.
Cats are naturally crepuscular this means they have a completely different body clock than humans. We humans are active during the day and tend to get sleeping during at night.
Cats, on the other hand, are active during the early mornings and evenings. This body clock of theirs allows them to hunt for prey that are active during these periods.
When a cat is not hunting or roaming to find a mate, it will be sleeping. This translates to many hours of sleep that can range from 18-20 hours a day.
I would think that anyone or animal that sleeps that much will also tend to yawn a great deal.
What else can we decipher about this body language from cats?
Your Cat Is Feeling Comfortable And Contented
Any cat owner out there can see how jumpy and edgy their cat can be at times. This is due to the way that cats are naturally wired to be more very conscious of their surroundings at all times even when sleeping.
Your feline friend isn’t a timid cat but when you have sensory organs that are as sensitive as a cat’s, you would be one jumpy individual as well.
A cat’s paws, whiskers and nose are designed to alert the cat of its prey’s location and incoming danger.
Even though our indoor cats are safe from harm’s way, it is hard to stop a cat from feeling and behaving like a cat.
When your cat yawns at you, it is telling you that it is in a contented and relaxed mood.
Your cat is feeling this way because it feels well protected and taken care of by you. You might also notice other forms of body language like purring and your cat flopping at your feet.
Your Cat Is Feeling Bored
One of the worst things that we can experience as humans is your boss yawning when you’re explaining why you deserve a pay raise. Or your date yawning because he or she thinks you’re as boring as a potato.
Your cat might be feeling the same way too at times when you find your cat yawning at you.
Indoor cats don’t usually get as much exercise as stray or feral cats as they do not have to hunt for their food.
Furthermore, if you have not been spending quality time with your cat, chances are it would have been inactive all this while.
And an inactive cat is a bored cat.
Get your cat active again by engaging it in play. Cats are natural hunters and love to chase things. Take advantage of this by getting toys that capitalize on this like a ribbon or feather which they can chase. Or even a remote-controlled mouse that makes your cat feel like it is on a hunt.
Get toys that are interactive that can keep your cat busy and entertained while you are at work.
Your Cat Is Sleepy Or Just Woken Up
When it comes to sleeping, no animal can do it as well as our beloved furry feline. As mentioned earlier, sleeping close to twenty hours a day is part and parcel of being your average cat.
For a creature that sleeps that much, the odds of you catching your cay yawning when it is sleepy or waking up are high.
Cats have excellent hearing and can hear a pin drop a few feet away. This gives them excellent tracking abilities when it comes to hunting small and fast prey.
Your elephant footsteps might have woken your cat up from its mid-afternoon catnap. And it gave you a wide-mouthed yawn just when you entered the room.
It can be easy to tell if your cat is ready for bed or has just woken up. When your cat is ready for bed, your cat will head off to its usual favorite napping spot.
A cat that has just woken up will do a nice big stretch from its front paws all the way to its tail to reenergize itself.
Your Cat Is Feeling Annoyed
Have you ever yawned at someone out of annoyance?
I know I have.
When the other party has interrupted my sleep or is boring me to death.
Your cat could be doing the same thing when you dropped something and it woke your cat up. Or you turned on the lights in your bedroom when your cat was sound asleep on your bed.
Your cat yawning at you when this happens could indicate subtle annoyance at your lack of consideration and to be a better butler.
Cats yawning at other animals is also a common gesture when annoyed. It could be that your cat is sleeping soundly on the sofa and your dog is trying to wake it up to play.
The uninterested cat yawns at the dog to display its fine set of sharp teeth. This is a casual warning to the dog to buzz off of it won’t be so gracious the next time around.
When stroking a relaxed cat, it might yawn at you too if the physical contact starts to get too sensitive for it. Cats have many nerve endings and can experience sensory overload quite fast.
You might have experienced a time when you were giving your happily purring cat pets when suddenly pawed at your hand.
Cats will exhibit some gestures before lashing out. You can see your cat starting to hiss, thump its tail aggressively on the floor or have its ear pulled back against its head.
When this happens, stop touching your cat and leave it alone to calm down and decompress.
Your Cat Is Feeling Warm
Although not scientifically proven, some studies have indicated that humans tend to yawn more when the body is feeling warmer than the room temperature. Yawning will draw cooler air into the body and cool the brain.
If you happen to see your cat yawn more frequently, it could be feeling warm and trying to lower its body temperature.
Cats can use their ears to regulate body heat by controlling the amount of blood flow to that area. But sometimes, they might need to use yawning to turn it up a notch.
Do Cats Yawn When They Are Happy?
If feeling contented and relaxed means happy then yes. Many cats yawn when they are feeling comfortable and safe. Although cats might not have the emotional capacity to feel ‘happiness’, they can experience a secure attachment with their owners.
Why Does My Cat Yawn When I Pet Him?
Not many cats can resist a good petting session. As aloof as the media makes cats out to be, a well-socialized cat desires human interaction and affection.
When you pet your cat, especially on areas like the ears, chin and head, it makes them feel very relaxed and sleepy.
Your cat’s automatic reflex when it’s feeling sleepy is to yawn.
If you are petting your cat close to its bedtime, it will also start to induce sleepiness in your cat thus making it yawn.
One thing to note for new cat owners is to be careful when stroking your cat’s belly. Not many cats like their belly touched as it is a very vulnerable area for them. Even though your cat can expose its belly to you as a sign of trust, it can turn aggressive when you touch it.
Always make sure that a cat likes its belly stroked before doing so. Otherwise, it is best to stick to the usual favourite pet spots as a cat sees having its belly touched as an attack from you.
Why Does My Cat Yawn When I Rub His Nose?
It might not necessarily be a yawn from your cat when you rub its nose. There is such a thing called a ‘Flehmen Response’ in cats when they are trying to decipher a smell.
When a cat smells something peculiar, it will tend to curl its lip that resembles a sneer or a look of surprise. This action allows the cat to flick the scent particles on its tongue onto the Jacobson’s organ located at the roof of its mouth.
This organ is basically a scent analyzer that allows the cat to break down the organ and transmit the information to its brain.
Your cat might have an exaggerated expression when doing the flehmen response which makes it look like it’s yawning.
Why Do Cats Yawn At Each Other?
Rival cats tend to out-stare each other to try and resolve conflicts. When the conflict is resolved, the cat might look away and yawn to indicate to the other cat that it is in a relaxed mood and have no wish to get into a conflict.
Cats can also yawn at each other as a subtle form of aggression when it feels threatened by another cat. Cat meows at humans as a form of communication but uses body language and scent to communicate with other cats.
As you can see, there are many reasons why your cat might be yawning at you when it sees you.
Chances are most of the time it is your cat just feeling sleepy.
It might be also interesting to note if you yawn as well when your cat yawns since yawning is known to be contagious.
Drop us a note and let us know!