Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Purrfect 10: Fascinating Facts About Cat Noses

We love reading and researching anything and everything about cats, and wanted to find a fun and unique way to share the interesting facts we learn with you! Since top 10 lists are very popular in the blogosphere, we created The Purrfect 10 as a way to present 10 educational or fascinating tidbits about a wide variety of cat-related topics, everything from health issues to cat breeds to famous felines.


A human’s sense of smell is arguably the one we take most for granted, but try to imagine how dull life would be without the pleasure of smelling that first cup of coffee in the morning, the flowers blooming in spring or your favorite cake or cookie baking in the oven. Our nose even has the power to save our lives, warning us of the dangers of smoke, toxic gases and spoiled food.

While we find our feline friends’ little noses irresistible to “boop” with affection, their nose could actually be considered their most important organ. Here’s why!

1) A cat’s sense of smell is nearly 14 times greater than a human's, checking in with 200 million scent receptors in their nasal cavity versus our measly 5 million. That’s even more than many breeds of dogs! A cat’s entire olfactory system extends through nearly their entire head.

2) Although cats are largely olfactory hunters, a cat uses their nose for much more than sniffing out food. Since outdoor cats establish territorial lines with their urine and pheromones from glands in their face and feet, other cats passing through can either decide to respect another’s territory and move on or stage a coup and deposit their own scent markings. The pheromones they leave behind are like their calling card! During mating season, female cats in heat release powerful chemical signals that a male’s nose can detect from miles away. A cat’s nose is also able to alert her to dangerous situations such as nearby predators.


3) As powerful as a cat’s sense of smell is, their taste receptors are lacking. (We have approximately 9,000 taste buds, they have less than 500.) How something smells triggers their hunger reflex more than how it tastes. This is why older cats or those with respiratory infections end up not eating. They can’t smell their food so they lose interest in eating. Warming food up to simulate the temperature of freshly killed prey can help to release the food's natural aromas.

4) When introducing a new cat to the resident feline, it’s best to do so gradually by smell. Rub a towel or washcloth over the new cat, and vice versa, allowing each to get used to the scent of the other before meeting face to face. And when you’re meeting a new cat yourself, extend your hand and let her smell you first. You’ll be fast friends in no time!

5) A kitten’s sense of smell is present at birth and fully developed by four weeks of age. Many kittens claim a certain nipple for their very own and can find it with ease, most likely because they smell their own pheromones deposited while nursing.

6) A cat’s nose has a powerful accessory called the Jacobsen organ (also called the vomeronasal organ). It’s a second scenting mechanism of sorts and is located behind the front teeth, connecting to the nasal cavity. According to cathealth.com, “Odors are inhaled to the tongue, the lip is slightly curled, and the tongue is rubbed on the roof of the mouth. Then the mouth, nose, and Jacobson’s organ in some way allow the animal to sense the essence of the flavor and scent in a way that we do not have the capacity to experience.” Have you ever seen a cat sneer? That funny little lip curl is triggered by their “flehmen response”. All cats use this process to analyze pheromones, but males grimace more often than females, always in tune with the opposite sex…even if they’ve been neutered!


7) There are certain scents cats can’t stand: many perfumes and air fresheners, citrus, bananas, plant smells, spicy scents such as cayenne pepper and cloves, eucalyptus oil, and oil of wintergreen can be overwhelming to a cat’s sensitive nose. Even fragrances that have been added to kitty litter have been put there for our benefit, not theirs. Do you let your nose tell you when it’s time to clean the litter box? Your cat will be offended by the odor long before you will. Many problems with inappropriate elimination occur simply because they’re trying to tell you the smells coming from their litter pan are simply intolerable!

8) When a cat head butts or cheek rubs their favorite human, they’re claiming that person as their own. It’s a sign of affection. They will also mark fellow felines in this way, engaging in a scent exchange so their colony has one familiar scent. Even when a cat is scratching your favorite piece of furniture or “making biscuits” on your lap they’re marking their territory through the scent glands in their paw pads too!

9) There is a direct correlation between the color of a cat's coat and the color of their nose. A black cat will have a black nose, white cats have pink noses, orange cats have orange noses, etc. Multi-colored cats will most likely have a multi-colored nose (Mudpie does!) Some cats have cute little nose freckles too.


10) A cat's "nose print" is as unique as a human's fingerprint, containing its own pattern of bumps and ridges. The print could be used as a form of kitty ID if they would allow you to ink their nose and stamp it on paper!

So the next time you’re admiring that adorable little nugget of a nose sitting in the middle of your cat’s face, take a moment to marvel at all that organ actually does. And then give it a boop...all cat lovers know it’s impossible to resist!

19 comments:

  1. Being a cat, I knew all these! But some of them were new to my human.

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  2. Those were fascinating facts!
    Mum knew a lot but not all of the facts and she was impressed.
    Purrs Georgia,Julie and JJ

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  3. I try to warm up Harvey's food. He is such a fussy Senior!

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  4. Cool! I knew cats have a strong sense of smell, but I didn't know about the 200 million scent receptors. :)

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  5. A cat's nose is very unique and interesting!

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  6. I love kitties noses. Our Tucker used to have a tai-colored nose and it was so adorable.

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  7. The Jacobson organ is very interesting. For a while Mommy thought Lexy was trying to bit people when they came over, but she learned she was actually smelling them with her mouth open!

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  8. I love this! I cannot get enough of cute kitty noses, and your facts about them are so purrfect. I'm so happy that you mentioned the vomeronasal organ. For some reason, that has always intrigued me so incredibly much, and I love seeing cats' flehmen responses. Evan has a very impressive one, which he put on display in our post about our visit from Joanie's traveling cow Moo. Purrs, and thank you for sharing these fun facts with us!

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  9. I know all about cat noses, because The PO'M likes to shove his into my armpit! Weird cat, that one!

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  10. Thanks for sharing this interesting post. They are all amazing to read. I had no idea that a cat nose print is as unique as a humans fingerprint. A cats nose really does some incredible things. Have a great day.
    World of Animals

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  11. Very interesting. We always joke that Sammy is a blood hound the way he can smell food anywhere.

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  12. Cat noses ... just one more wondrous part of those incredible creatures called cats!

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  13. I used to see my Molly Cat doe the sneer- open her mouth wide and freeze...now I know what she was doing !

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  14. Wow, that's really fascinating stuff! Cats noses are the stuff of superheroes!

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  15. Great info on the cats nose! I love it when my cats do the flehmen response.

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  16. I'm a tuxie and I have a gray nose. *Sniff sniff* I smell a a rat. Inneresting facts.

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  17. Loved this article! Who knew? I'll look at my babies' noses a little differently now, but I'll treat them the same with nosekisses! - Mom Julie x (Tom read this, too, but was distracted by a window whiffie)

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