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Cat Nose Facts: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Cat’s Sense Of Smell

cat-noseDogs get a lot of attention for their sense of smell, but the cat nose is nothing to sniff at. Behind its dainty heart shape and tiny nostrils, the cat nose possesses some powerful skills.  With the help of, here are ten things to know about your cat’s nose!

  1. A cat’s nose is their most important sense organ. Cats have 200 million scent receptors! Most dog breeds don’t have even close to that number. Your cat’s sense of smell can:
  • Guide them to prey
  • Determine if food is edible or toxic
  • Discover where you’ve been
  • Help your cat find home if they get lost!
  1. Cats are born with a highly-developed sense of smell. Even before their eyes have opened, newborn kittens are able to distinguish their mother’s scent and locate where to nurse!
  1. The color of a cat’s nose is directly related to the color of their fur. Black cats have black noses, white cats have pink noses, orange cats have orange noses, gray cats have gray noses, and so on. And if your cat is multicolored, they might just have a multicolored nose, too. Some kitties also have freckles on their noses.
  1. Cats wear leather year round.  The naked skin around a cat’s nostrils is called “nose leather.”
  1. Cat “nose prints” are completely unique. Every cat’s nose has its own pattern of bumps and ridges, and just like human fingerprints, no two cat “nose prints” are alike. Nose prints could be used as a form of cat identification, if only they’d tolerate having their nose inked and stamped on a piece of paper!
  1. A cat nose knows all the local animal gossip. A cat’s sense of smell reveals all sorts of details about other animals in the area. Outdoor cats mark their territory with their eliminations, so if your cat goes outdoors, they can tell if anyone’s been intruding in their space!
  1. The nose stimulates your cat’s appetite. Cats have very few taste receptors on their tongues, so it’s the smell rather than the flavor that stimulates the sense of hunger. That’s a big part of the reason why cats with respiratory infections or other nasal blockages stop eating; if they can’t smell their food, they won’t get hungry!
  1. Mutual sniffing is a feline greeting. When two cats approach each other, they sniff one another’s noses, sides, and rear ends before going about their regular business. This is the feline equivalent of saying, “Hey, how’s it going? Whatcha doin’?”
  1. Some smells cats really don’t like. Because cat noses are so sensitive, very strong odors can be distasteful and even uncomfortable to smell! Be cautious with scented cat litter; the smell might be nice to you, but it could be overwhelming for your feline friend’s nose. Cats are also known to dislike the smell of citrus, mint, eucalyptus, lavender and tea tree oil.
  1. Some cats lick their noses, but why remains a mystery. Some animal experts believe licking their nose acts as a reset button for a cat’s sense of smell, removing any residue that might be interfering with their need to smell other things. Others say licking their nose has nothing to do with smell, and is actually a sign of anxiety. What do you think?

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