Cat Sense of Smell

The cat sense of smell is about fourteen times as strong as humans. Their smell, not vision, are their primary resource for identifying things in their environment. Cats have 200 million odor-sensitive cells in their noises compared to only 5 million in humans. Your cat receives important feedback about his world through his smelling. The cat’s olfactory senses help him communicate with others of his own kind and determine the potential risks and pleasures associated with his surroundings.

cat nose

The Amazing Sense of Smell

Cats have a special sense organ in the roof of their mouths called the Jacobson’s organ which enables them to taste sent molecules in the air. With this amazing olfactory acuity, your cat can detect the presence of other animals outside your home and can identify the strange smells of animals on your clothes that you have made contact with.

A cat’s acute ability for smell helps establish his boundaries and territories. He will mark his territory by depositing his own urine and rubbing skin secretions on important objects in the environment. Cats also use their smell rather than their taste to determine 


8 Facts About Cat Sense of Smell

By Laurel (Pennsylvania) her Siamese and her Burmese


1. The cat’s nose is their most important sense organ. 

With 200 million scent receptors in their nasal cavity, the cat sense of smell has a sensitivity almost as good as dogs. Dogs scent receptors can be between 220-300 million depending on the breed. Humans have a measly 5 million receptors for our olfactory senses. Your cats’ sense of smell helps her find food and tells her if the food is edible or toxic. Believe me it must be, when I try to hide medicine in their favorite foods such as tuna, they just give me this look, and walk away from it. You can fool a dog any day. Your cats’ sense of smell guides her to prey and helps her find her home if she gets lost. 


2. The cats nose tells them about other cats in the area. 

Cats mark their territory with urine and feces, so if your cat goes outdoors, they immediately know if other cats have been around. They know when someone has been intruding on their space and our cats are very territorial of their spaces. Because cats in heat release pheromones, your cats can detect female cats from extremely far distances. 


3. The Cat sense of smell will stimulate their appetite

Sense cats have very few taste receptors on their tongues compared to humans, it’s their sense of smell and not taste that stimulates their sense of hunger. It is for this reason why cats with respiratory infections or blocked nasal passages will stop eating. If they cannot smell their food, they will not get hungry. 


4. Feline greeting – Mutual sniffing

So what is the feline equivalent of “Hey how your doing? Whatcha been up to?” Feline friends approaching each other will sniff each other noses, sides, and butts, and then nonchalantly go about their business. This happens every time one of my cats come in from the outside. Each and every time they get a really good smell over by the other cats. 


5. There are some smells that cats really don’t like.

Smells that are nice to us can be overwhelming to the sensitive noses of cats. For this reason, litter that is overly deodorized may detour your cat from using it. Mine do not mind the smell. Other overwhelming smells include citrus and tea tree oils. 


6. The color of your cats’ nose is directly related to the color of their fur. 

Black cats have black noses, white cats have pink noses, orange cats have orange noses and gray cats have gray noses. Multicolored cat may have multicolored noses. Siamese are temperature-sensitive albinos, the lighter points typically have pink noses, but the darker points may have black noses. 


7. Cats have nose prints. 

Just like how no two humans have the same fingerprints, no two cats have the same nose print. Every ridge and bumps patterns on the cats nose is unique. There has been some talk of using nose prints as a form of identification, though I can’t imagine the difficulty of getting nose prints from cats! 


8. Why do cats lick their noses? 

It is speculated that when a cat licks their nose, they are somewhat hitting a reset button for their sense of smell. It’s like getting rid of a lingering smell or removing residual things like dust and pollen that might interfere with their need to smell other things. 


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