a young red and white kitten yawning

Why Does My Cat Yawn When It Sees Me?

Ever noticed how your cat seems to yawn at you? It seems to happen so often it just doesn’t seem to be a coincidence. Usually, I might come into a room where my cat is chilling and she sees me, yawns, gets up, and stretches in a little ritual – what is that all about?

Truth is no one really knows or understands why this cat yawning might be happening. And not just in cats but in all animals that yawn – we have no idea! What we do know is that it is an involuntary action and seems to happen in us, chimps, cats, dogs, horses, fish, in fact, in all vertebrates – we are all at it and no one knows why! Even unborn babies in the womb yawn!

Despite not having any definitive answer as to why we or our cats yawn and particularly why they yawn when they see us there are some interesting ideas out there. Here is a selection of some of the more plausible reasons why your cat might yawn when it sees you : 

portrait of an orange tabby cat in sitting pose yawning outdoors

Pure Coincidence

You are just paranoid. They are not yawning at you – you just happen to come across them at the right moment.

Or alternatively, you spend so much time with them you just assume they are yawning at you when actually they were just yawning and you happened to be there.

Get over yourself slave.

They Are Relaxed In Your Company.

Scientists have theorized that yawning is an evolutionary communication throwback in humans, apes and the like.

A signaling mechanism, if you will. Maybe your cat is communicating with you and saying “hey I’m chilled out, kick back dude, easy times”.

It Is Bored

Following on the same theme as the relaxed cat – maybe your cat is saying you are insufferably boring and they wish you would just get something about yourself, you boring t**t.

Or maybe the whole situation is just tedious – like when you yawn in class as a student or struggle to stifle yawns when listening to someone tediously drone on and on…Maybe this is what happens when your cat yawns, stretches and then leaves…

A Non Aggressive Warning

close up of a black, grey and sand tabby with long whiskers yawning

Following on from relaxed and bored cat comes gently hardcore cat……see my teeth? Watch your step, cat.

Maybe your cat is involuntarily suffering from a moment of fleeting anxiety and involuntarily issuing a half-assed warning that they can do some damage with their teeth if the current anxiety you are causing does not pass quickly.

You might encounter this type of yawn as you are stroking your cat.

The invasion of space, although welcome and somewhat enjoyable, might release a deep down an instinctive and involuntary defensive warning to not go too far with those shenanigans – I am related to sabertooth don’t you know!

It Is Tired 

Maybe your cat is just tired and flagging. Some scientists suggest that a yawn might be nature’s way of giving you a quick boost.

A yawn might be a way to take a big dose of oxygen and get an increase in wakefulness and energy flow that stops you from dropping off for a second or two. Maybe it is the same in your cat.

Low On Oxygen

Some science bods contend that yawns might just be your system managing itself.

They think it could be that the oxygen levels in your blood have dropped as a result of shallow or slow breathing and need a quick top-up so you or your cat yawns – all this goes on under the hood without you (or your cat) actually knowing anything about it or it having any particular meaning.

High On Carbon

Yawning tabby cat performing a dog pose stretch on a wooden garden table on a sunny day

Of course, someone always has to be different. Some scientist bods nod sagely about your system needing oxygen and so you yawn involuntarily but they prefer the opposite reasoning that actually your high on carbon dioxide, silly..

They contend that your system detects too much C02 and has to balance the equation by taking in big gulps of air and expelling carbon dioxide.

Whichever notion you favor, oxygen top-up or carbon excretion, the idea is all the same – it is biological chemistry going on under your hood, don’t worry about it, you or your cat’s system is on auto survival mode..

Brain Cooling

I like this idea – your cat is in brain cooling mode! Obvious eh! Well according to the study, which is really a theory as to how yawning might cool the human brain, yawning is “a function to cool the brain in part due to counter-current heat exchange with the deep inhalation of ambient air” Rightho……In plain English, when the weather is warm you yawn more to keep your brain at the correct optimum temperature.

The study proved that people yawn more in warm weather than in cool weather so concluded that when we (or anything) yawns we are in brain cooling mode – so there you have it – you are making your cats brain melt at the sight of you and it needs to enter brain cooling mode…

So take your pick. There could be a grain of truth hidden in all the reasons or they could be the theories of idiots. You decide.

No one really knows why your cat yawns at you when it sees you – I prefer to think it just hit brain cooling mode…