The sense of smell is an important sense for cats. They have a highly developed sense of smell and an olfactory system that is much better and advanced than that of humans.

As cats are sensitive animals, some odors can have an effect on their mood. Certain smells can irritate them, while others can calm them down. Their sense of smell not only allows them to communicate with other cats, but also analyze their environment.

The importance of a cat's sense of smell

The sense of smell is a particularly important sense for cats. For example, not only does it allow them to communicate with other cats, but also find food. In addition, cats can detect more odors than humans, which allows them to detect areas where they can and can't go. Cats have millions more olfactory cells than we do.

Smelling the world around them is incredibly important for a cat. It allows them to know and recognize their own territory and that of other cats.

The Jacobson's organ, which is located on the roof of the palate, helps cat detect odors. When cats curl up their lips, the Jacobson's organ allows them to better analyze their environment. The Bowman's glands play an important role in the life of a cat as well. It secretes a mucus that makes their nose humid, which helps them better detect the odors around them.

This organ allows cats to detect pheromones (olfactive particles left by cats to mark their territory) left in their environment by other individuals.

A sixth sense?

Because cats have such a highly developed sense of smell, they can even smell changes in their atmosphere. For example, cats can detect smells related to a human's unhappiness or illness. For the most part, these types of smells are imperceptible by humans.

Types of odors

Odors that cats enjoy

Most cats really enjoy the smell of catnip. While they do not eat it, they really enjoy smelling it. Depending on the cat, this odor can have more or less of an effect on them. Mineral or plant-based scents such as olive or mint also stimulate cats and could make them feel the need to scratch or chew something.

The smell of thyme can make some cats feel the need to scratch. It can also make them feel the desire to mark their territory. 

Odors that cats not enjoy

As cats have a very developed sense of smell, it can be difficult for cats to handle strong odors. Citrus essentials oils (lemon, orange, grapefruit) can make some cats aggressive.

Vinegar, onions, and toothpaste are also smells that most cats do not like very much.

How does your cat react to certain odors?

Originally written in French by Juliette Bontemps (Yummypets) and translated by Jennifer Eubank (Yummypets).


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    Eira J My cat often sniffs around to familiarize with my location and the scents in the house.

    zebra b Cats utilize their Jacobson's organ to enhance their analysis of the surroundings when they curl up their lips. geometry dash online