Excessive Yawning in Cats

When a cat yawns, you can get a good glimpse of all of his teeth.
i George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

There's nothing quite like cuddling up on the couch with your furry little lap warmer. You get so cozy that before you know it, you're both yawning. But, if you watch closely, you might find that your little kitty yawns quite a bit, and it's not always because he's tired.

Lacking Oxygen

Even though all land-bound mammals yawn, science has yet to prove the true reason behind the action. There are several theories out there, with the most popular being that the brain forces a yawn during times when the body has too much carbon dioxide and not enough oxygen. The basis behind this theory is that when we, or our cats, yawn, a large volume of oxygen is quickly inhaled, bringing much-needed oxygen into the body while expelling a good amount of excess carbon dioxide.

Fending Off Sleep

Sometimes, when your cat is tired but he doesn't want to take a nap, he may yawn in an effort to stay awake. The quick intake of oxygen stimulates blood flow and helps fend off his impending nap, at least for a little while longer.

Preparing for Sleep

Although your cat's yawning boosts his blood flow and increases his heart rate in order to prevent himself from falling asleep, it also helps his body achieve a more relaxed state, so yawning can also help your kitty fall asleep when he's ready.


If your cat is yawning, he may be trying to communicate with you or other pets in the home. He may be telling you he's tired or that he is bored or he may be signalling to other pets in the home that he is not concerned with them at the moment.

Oral Pain

Sometimes a cat will yawn excessively when he is experiencing pain in his mouth. He could have sore teeth or a cut on the inside of his mouth that is making it painful for him to keep his mouth shut. If you notice his yawning is accompanied by grinding his teeth or drooling, then you will want to have him looked at by his veterinarian.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

the nest