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7 Ways Cats Use Their Senses Of Smell

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Your cat’s sense of smell is 40 times stronger than your own. Pretty amazing, right? What’s even more amazing is all of the ways your cat uses that gift and all of the information she’s able to glean because of it. Here are 7 amazing ways your cat puts her nose to work.

Lucie Provencher @ Flickr
Lucie Provencher @ Flickr

#1 – Define territory
Cats spray and use their glands to mark their territory. A cat who smells these clues later can learn all sorts of information, such as how long ago the mark was left and which direction the marking cat was traveling. This can help a cat determine whether to respect the other cat’s territory or to assert dominance.

Related:

Litter Box Problems vs. Territorial Marking: Decode Your Cat’s Smelly Problem

Jay Babin @ Flickr
Jay Babin @ Flickr

#2 – Sense prey
A cat’s sharp sense of smell can often pick up the scent of a nearby animal before she has any other clues. It’s one of the many things that makes her such a fantastic hunter.

Related:

7 Traits That Make Your Cat A Fearless Hunter

How Do Your Cat’s Five Senses Compare To Your Own?

Heather @ Flickr
Heather @ Flickr

#3 – Sense predators
In the same way that her sense of smell helps her pick up the scent of prey, it can also help her pick up the scent of hidden predators.

brownpau @ Flickr
brownpau @ Flickr


#4 – Find mate
Cats use their sense of smell to determine whether another cat is in heat or looking for a mate.

Related:

5 Great Reasons To Spay Or Neuter Your Cat

miss Murasaki @ Flickr
miss Murasaki @ Flickr

#5 – Stimulate appetite
Despite having razor sharp senses of hearing, sight, and smell, a cat’s sense of taste is pretty dull. Because of that, your cat uses her sense of smell to stimulate her appetite and to determine whether the food in front of her is fit for consumption.

Related:

7 Reasons Your Cat May Be A Picky Eater

teakwood @ Flickr
teakwood @ Flickr

#6 – Greeting other cats
If you live with multiple cats you may notice that they smell each other a lot. Smelling each other is a greeting, but it can also give valuable information such as each cat’s mood and where they’ve been recently.

Related:

6 Ways To Keep The Peace In A Multi-Cat Home

The Subtle Art Of Cat-To-Cat Communication

Immortel @ Flickr
Immortel @ Flickr

#7 – Identify a safe environment
Has your cat ever rubbed her cheek on your hand, leg, or the side of your computer as you were typing? Cats have glands in their cheeks that release pheromones. Your cat uses those pheromones to “mark” people, animals, and objects that she has deemed to be safe and friendly. The smell of those pheromone markings, along with the above information, helps her feel secure and confident in her environment.

Written by Andee Bingham

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