You walk into the room where your cat is sleeping when it raises its head, looks at you, and yawns, then lays back down. You feel bad for a split second because you think your cat is bored with you and don’t like you. Why does your cat yawn at you?
There are many reasons that cats yawn when they see you, such as communicating with you in one way or another. When cats wake up, they usually yawn and stretch, so it might be a coincidence that you walked in on them when they woke up. They also might be relaxed and happy.
Humans and cats yawn for many reasons. Read on to find out why you shouldn’t take a cat’s yawning personally.
Cats Are Communicating With You
“A yawn is a silent scream for coffee.” Well, maybe for humans, but when cats yawn at you, they are communicating with you. Sometimes, anyway. Their mood is relaxed and comfortable, and they are showing you that they are vulnerable and that they trust you. It could also mean that they are telling you that they are very relaxed and want to be left alone.
Whenever your cat sees you, they might be telling you that they trust you and are happy to see you. They want you to know that they trust you and see you as a comforting being rather than a threat, and a yawn sends that message. Are they bored with you? That’s hardly likely, considering how much time they spend cuddling and playing with you.
Cats Wake Up When Seeing You
It could just be that you made some noise when you walked into the room where your cat was sleeping. Anyone, human or cat, often yawns when they first wake up from a sound sleep. Waking up your cat causes an involuntary reflex and will stretch and yawn after you’ve disturbed its rest.
They also might be yawning and waking themselves up when they see you because they want to either play or cuddle. Knowing that you’re there might give them some excitement that they want to be up for. Give them a little attention, so they know you love them before going about your day.
They Are Bored and Need Some Excitement
Have you ever sat in front of the TV and yawned several times because you were so bored? Or, have you been so busy that you didn’t yawn for several hours? Indoor cats that aren’t very active get bored very easily and will yawn to show how bored they are. If you notice your cat yawning frequently, try using a ribbon or string toy to get her doing something.
Cats love being active when they have something to be active with. A game of fetch could get your cat moving and give it some excitement. Now, it may seem weird to you that a cat would like playing fetch like a dog, but it does happen with cats. Cats have an innate need to please you and bring you their “kills” as presents.
Find a favorite toy that your cat loves to play with and toss it in another room, asking your cat to get it. Some cats won’t play fetch, but most cats will chase it because they love chasing things. And because they want to please you, they’ll run after it and bring it back.
Kittens love playing this game and will grow up playing it as an adult cat. This is one game of many that you can play with your cat and help it not be so bored while being inside the house.
They Might Be Stressed or Annoyed
Cats yawn because they are slightly annoyed and perhaps a bit stressed. If you walk into a room and turn on the light when your cat is sleeping, they might raise their head and give you a wide-mouthed yawn, which could be their way of telling you that they are annoyed with you for waking them up. They are showing you their teeth, meaning that they are threatening you.
They also do this in the wild with other animals. If another cat comes into their territory, the original cat will yawn as a first response to the intruder. But if the other cat doesn’t go away soon, the original cat will start growling or hissing, trying to make the intruder go away. The yawn is the first step in a stressful confrontation between cats.
Your cat might do it to you if you pet it in the wrong way or if you wake it up in the middle of a very restful nap. They may show you a mouthful of teeth to get you to back off. If you don’t, they might get more stressed and start hitting you or scratching you while hissing at the same time.
Your Cat Might Be Relaxed and Happy
Your cat might just be relaxed and happy and is yawning because they are content to be with you. It might be that they are telling you that it’s time to chill out and relax. Scientists have studied yawning in humans and theorized that yawning was a signaling mechanism in ancient times from humans and apes that meant that everything was good and that it was time to chill for a bit.
Cats might have that same response when they are contented. When you are cuddling on the couch with your cat, and it yawns at you, it might be telling you it’s time to relax and rest and that your cat is comfortable with you.
It Might Be an Eerie Coincidence
Or, it might just be a coincidence that your cat yawns at you when you walk in the room. Several times, humans try to make their cats’ actions mean something when it’s just a normal and natural reaction to sleep or other natural behaviors. While it’s a good idea to understand what cats are trying to communicate to you, putting more meaning into normal cat behavior could make you over-analyze every minute detail.
What About Medical Issues?
A cat that yawns excessively might have some medical issues that you need to address. If you think something is wrong with your cat, or there could be a medical issue for the yawning, call your vet for a cat checkup. Medical issues might be there if you see drooling when they yawn or notice bad breath during a yawn.
Other issues might include:
- Eating only one side of the mouth, which could indicate oral pain.
- Your cat is pawing at one side of their mouth frequently.
- They are not eating, even though they appear to be hungry.
- Your cat yawns multiple times per hour, which could indicate they are not feeling well.
- Their gums are inflamed and discolored.
Any of these symptoms could indicate a medical or dental issue that needs resolving immediately. Contact your vet for an appointment.
Yawning is an autonomous response to various stimuli, and it happens whether you walk into the room your cat is in or not. Cats yawn for many reasons that you do, including getting more oxygen when sleepy. They also will yawn to take in more scent that they detect.
Does your cat yawn while meowing slightly? That could be a sign they are trying to communicate with you. Your cat might need to see a vet if they’ve been unusually quiet, and their voice is raspy.
Yawns can mean anything and nothing. To make sure it’s nothing, keep an eye out for other signs that could mean an illness or infection.