Yawn, Yawn, Yawn… Why Do Cats Yawn?

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Why do cats yawn?

Someone once said that a yawn is a cat’s honest opinion openly expressed.
Have you ever watched a cat yawn? His mouth opens so wide that you can count every tooth.

It has been estimated that a cat yawns on the average of 109,500 times in his life.

The earliest human yawn often occurs at about 11 weeks after conception – that’s before the baby is born. The yawn becomes contagious somewhere in the first five years of life. Chimpanzees and apes yawn, and they yawn infectiously – just like us. Fish and birds also yawn.

We don’t really know why cats yawn. In fact we don’t really know why we yawn, although there are several theories. Here they are:

  • The physiological theory – This theory claims that you yawn because of low oxygen levels in the blood. Yawning causes you to take a deep breath, stimulating oxygen flow.
  • Boredom – Some believe that people and pets yarn because of boredom.
  • Conflict – Cats also yawn in times of conflict. For example, if there is a dish of food nearby but the dog is standing over the dish, your cat may have conflicting urges: one urge to eat and the other to protect himself. In this case his yawn might be a displacement behavior. Consider the situation in an evolutionary context. Putting on a “sleepy” display by yawning, allows the animal to escape a problematic situation gracefully, without sending out the message that he is scared, confused or in conflict with others.
  • The stretch – Just as “a kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh,” a yawn may be… well, just a yawn. Cats usually stretch those muscles in their backs when they yawn; in fact, their whole body is involved – the spine, the neck, the jaw. This has got to feel good.

    Make sure your cat has plenty of stimulation and is not “bored”. Toys such as the Fling-ama-string are fun and entertaining for cats. The “Fling” hangs over the back of a door and has a rotating band. This band has a moving string and cats love to stock it! The Fling-ama-string has received awards from top Pet Industry experts, including The Best New Cat Product Award, the Editor’s Choice Award, Best In Show and the Product Excellence Award. This really is an amazing new toy. Upon a resent search – it is available on Ebay and Amazon.

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