Cats - The Nose Knows!

A cat’s nose is just incredible.  The sense of smell is undoubtedly the most important of the cat’s five senses. Astonishingly, a cat’s sense of smell is fifteen times stronger than a human’s sense of smell.  What that means is that a cat uses its nose more than its eyes to locate prey when they hunt and to  determine if food is safe to eat.  

Did you know that a cat does more with its nose than smell? Cats have an additional sense of ‘smell’ that is able to detect chemical messengers though the air.  These messengers are known as pheromones.  Pheromones are detected by the vomeronasal organ (or the Jacobson’s organ) which is located in the roof of a cat’s mouth and has ducts that connect to the mouth and nose.  You may have seen your cat make a funny grimace-like face when it is processing pheromones.

Cats often use means of communication that are less than desirable to humans when they live inside our homes.  We know that when cats scratch, they leave visual cues of their presence.  In addition to these visual cues, there are glands in the paw that deposit pheromones during the scratching process. Other cats can then smell where they have been.

The least favorite communication tool to all cat owners is urine marking.  You see, cats prefer avoidance and distance as a way of managing conflict.  So, they use urine marking to establish territories or to have a territorial dispute, without ever having to be in each other's company or risk getting into a fight.  This system works very well for cats, but not so well for cat owners, who even with their inferior noses, can pick up that one!  

Stay tuned to The Catvocate for practical tips to manage scratching and urine marking in the home.