Are Yawns Contagious To Cats?

Are Yawns Contagious To Cats?

Cats exhibit certain behaviors that look amusing, such as when they let out a big yawn. They usually yawn when they are sleepy, but they also do it for a variety of other reasons. Yawning is an involuntary process that causes the lungs to expand, resulting in a deep breath. It increases brain oxygen levels and releases carbon dioxide, creating alertness and an energy boost. 

Are yawns contagious to cats?

No, if the one yawning is a human, yawns are not contagious to cats. Cats cannot catch yawns from humans, although there are studies done by researchers from the University of London that human yawns could be contagious to dogs.  However, there has not been any concrete evidence or research to prove that human yawns are contagious to cats. 

In humans, studies suggest that when you yawn after seeing someone else yawn, it is a form of social bonding and a sign of empathy. Certain studies reveal that contagious yawning is an involuntary process that only occurs in humans, chimpanzees, and other mammals. However, cat experts note that even cats resort to contagious yawning within their own groups.  

Reasons Why Cats Yawn

1. It is a sign of waking up. 

A yawning cat means the cat has just woken up and is starting her day with an oxygen intake. This is usually accompanied by stretching. Cats yawn to make it easier to take in more air in one inhalation. 

2. Your cat could be irritated. 

Yawning can be a sign of irritation. This usually happens when you pet it while it was asleep. If a cat is grooming herself and you stroke or pet her, she may not like it and will yawn at you to show her irritation. 

3. Your cat is stressed.  

Cats may experience stress and anxiety if there are abrupt changes in their routine.  You may have moved the furniture,  remodeled your home, or welcomed a new addition to the family. A stressed cat relieves stress through yawning. 

4. She is relaxed. 

Well-fed and happy cats tend to yawn. You will most likely see this when you bond with your cat through playing and spending time with her. She may also yawn when she welcomes you at the door as you come home from work. 

5. She is bored. 

If your cat is often left at home alone with not much to do, she will resort to yawning. This also happens if she is not engaged in physical activities like playing and chasing toys. 

6. The cat is trying to stay awake. 

Sleepy cats normally will yawn, but they will also do it to stay awake. 

7. She is seeking attention. 

Cats tend to yawn and meow to catch your attention. It can be their way of saying that their dinner is late or that you forgot to change the water in the water bowl.

Cat experts note that cats yawn due to low oxygen levels in the blood. Yawning allows cats to take a deep breath and it stimulates respiratory gas exchange as well as heart and blood flow.  

Cats may also yawn to display their teeth, which is thought to be a spill-over of primitive behavior. 

Felines may also yawn as a form of protective behavior during situations of conflict, such as if there is a bowl of food nearby but a dog is standing in front of it. The cat may have conflicting urges and need to decide whether to eat or protect herself. She may yawn as a form of displacement behavior.  This allows the cat to escape from a problematic and stressful situation without conveying the message that it is scared or in conflict with others.

What does it mean if your cat is yawning excessively?

If your cat is yawning excessively, it could mean she has a mouth ailment such as feline stomatitis. The symptoms can include an inflamed mouth and throat. Cats tend to yawn a lot when they feel excessive mouth pain. They may also cry out and leap around each time they open their mouth widely since moving their mouth feels uncomfortable and painful. 

Aside from excessive yawning, your cat may be feeling poorly if it also drools a lot, pounds or grinds its teeth together, and has bad breath.  It is also very difficult to chew and swallow their food each time they eat. If your cat is manifesting the mentioned symptoms, call the vet for a thorough consultation. 

Is yawning contagious for animals?

Cat experts note that yawning is contagious in a few species of social animals. Chimpanzees and dogs have also been observed to respond to yawning by humans. Spontaneous yawning is common across all vertebrate classes.

Why do cats yawn with their eyes open?

Cats tend to yawn with their eyes open to relieve stress. It could be that their owner shouted at them for behaving badly. If they are in a stressful situation, cats will yawn to let out steam and as their response to the admonitions. 


Yawning can be contagious and it has been observed that chimpanzees and dogs respond by yawning when humans yawn. This is often not the case with cats and there has been no concrete evidence that human yawns are contagious to cats. Nevertheless, cats yawn for various reasons. They may yawn since they are sleepy and trying to stay awake, or it could be that they are relaxed. It could also mean they are bored, stressed, or irritated. 

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