causes Cat Sniffing The Air, Cats Use Smell to Communicate Cats may not verbalize, shake hands, or hug like humans, but they do assess each other. When two cats meet they usually sniff the head area first or may even share a gentle head bump. This physical greeting releases pheromones from glands in the face. … Hence, cats sniff butts.
There is no doubt that cats exhibit a range of strange behaviors that do not make sense to humans. Whether it brings you dead animals, presses itself in tight spaces, or runs around the living room as if chasing at 2 am, cats are unique animals. Sometimes, their strange behavior is related to the fact that they have senses that are more sensitive to certain things than humans.
Cat’s sense of smell
Cat senses are different than that of humans. As a human, you might use your sense of smell to tell when someone is baking cinnamon rolls in the kitchen downstairs. If you smell smoke, you might begin to wonder if there’s a fire nearby. But in general, your sense of smell is not the primary way that you navigate your environment.
For cats, though, their sense of smell is their strongest sense. According to Cats Doctor Hanen Abdel Rahman, the cat’s eyesight prowess is 10 times less than that of humans. However, humans have 5 million odor-receptive cells in their noses whereas cats have 200 million. That means a cat can smell a whole “world” of sensory information from their noses that humans have no awareness of.
A cat’s sense of smell is so important that they have a whole secondary organ for it. The Jacobson’s organ, which picks up general scents from the air and hormonal information, such as other cats that are nearby. It’s located on the roof of their mouth behind their front teeth and is connected to the nasal cavity. The Jacobson’s organ, also known as the vomeronasal organ, is found in amphibians, reptiles, and mammals, although in humans the size and shape of the organ vary widely and in fact, research shows that in humans the organ is non-functional.
In cats, the Jacobson’s organ detects odor particles that are carried on moisture in the air. Some mammals that have a Jacobson’s organ, like cats, exhibit a behavior known as the Flehmen response. This is a behavior in which the cat tries to expose as much of the odor-bearing air to the Jacobson’s organ as possible by opening their mouth and curling their upper lip as they breathe.
If you see your cat sniffing something with their eyes squinty, their mouth open, and their head tilted back, it probably doesn’t mean they don’t like the smell of whatever you’re cooking for dinner. It simply means they are “tasting the air,” or trying to get as much information as possible about the smell. Passing the air over the organ intensifies the odor and provides more information about what they’re sniffing. Whether the cat’s sense of smell is so sophisticated that they can figure out if you’re making pepperoni pizza or baking a cake, we’ll never know.
Sniffing the air
Since cats can’t see as much as we can, breathing air with the Jacobson organ is a way for them to get a “scent picture” of what’s happening in their environment. A cat can smell a mouse, for example, it may be in walls that you can’t even hear or see. If you think about it, it stands to reason that cats can smell much better than we can, because cats are born with closed eyes and can only recognize their mother and find their nipples with the smell.
If you see your cat breathing in the air, especially if it is an unproven male, he may search for love. Hormonal signals are a large part of mating cats, and male cats can smell a female cat in heat from a distance of up to a mile. If there are other cats around, your cat may smell signs. It’s a way to tell other cats, “I’m here.”
Other species have scent organs that allow them to “taste the air,” including snakes, which stick their tongues out, and elephants, who stretch out their trunks. Male cats are thought to be more likely to display a Flehmen response because he is looking for a female cat. But a female cat who is a mother will use the response to look for her kittens.
Both male and female cats may use the response to look for potential food sources. Some evidence seems to suggest that animals may go into a trance-like state during the process because they enjoy it so much.
Sniffing is similar behavior to sniffing the air with their mouth open using the Jacobson’s organ. A cat can smell scents from both near and far, and sniffing is a way of bringing more air into the nasal cavity, where the olfactory smell receptors are located.
Cats communicate with scent
Cats detect scent that can tell them a lot of things. They may smell when other cats mark or spray with urine. They can learn information about the cat that left the mark by sniffing it. A cat leaves hormones when it rubs or scratches on something. So your cat may sniff a bush or the arm of the couch if it senses that another cat, or another animal of some kind, has been there.
Cats use scent to communicate territorial areas, identify other cats they know, identify other friendly or unfriendly animals like the dog that lives next door, or they may be seeking a mate if they are not fixed.
Cats have two noses
No, they don’t really have two noses, but the presence of their actual nose along with the Jacobson’s organ is like they have two noses. According to Your Cat, a cat has 20-square centimeters of surfaces that receive scent compared to the two- to four-square centimeters that humans have. While their actual “nose” is anatomically similar to ours, they can get a lot more information from scent than we can.
So while your cat may seem like she is just acting weird by sniffing the air, she’s likely studying what she’s smelling and remembering it in case she smells it again.
Can cats taste the air?
When cats look like they are tasting the air they are, in fact, inhaling air into their mouths, not for the purpose of passing over their tongues to taste it but to drive the air towards the roof of their mouth where it passes through two small ducts leading to the vomeronasal organ, which is an auxiliary olfactory