Cat Behaviour

Why do Cats Like Smelly Things?

Have you ever seen your cat become attracted to your gym clothes after your workout? Or maybe you’ve seen your cat rolling around in your smelly clothes on the bed. Perhaps you’ve noticed that your cat likes to curl up in a smelly shoe box (if not inside the actual shoe)? Well, smells that most of us humans find repulsive or “bad” can often actually be appealing to your cat. If you’re curious about why cat’s like smelly things, then read on!

A Heightened Sense of Smell

The sense of smell is made up by the olfactory receptors in the nasal passage. A human has approximately 5 million of these receptors whereas a cat has about 100 million. That’s right! Their sense of smell is about 20 times more powerful than ours.

Cats also have scent glands between their toes in the pads of their feet. Therefore, cats leave their scent on different surfaces by rubbing their feet on them. This scent is used to communicate with other felines in the area or to assert ownership of a particular thing or person, especially as a way to impress other cats or dogs in the vicinity.

Furthermore, they also have scent glands on the roof of their mouths, around their chin and forehead, and their cheeks. These glands make their sense of smell heightened. Have you ever been surprised by your cat “bunting” or head bumping you? Well, we have some good news for you, that being that your cat likes you. Cats primarily do that to mark someone who is their favorite and is safe territory for them.

Identification and Comfort

Felines often greet each other by touching noses, and its also known that cats identify and recognize people based on their scents and smells, in addition to their voices. Moreover, the odor emitted by a cat’s anal sac is unique to the particular cat. Other cats sniff the odor to identify their kin.

The most wholesome news is that cats can sniff your scent on your clothes or your shoes. That is why they like to curl up in your sweaty clothes or your damp shoes because they emit your odor. This can be particularly helpful if your cat goes through separation anxiety. If you are away, you can keep a blanket or some clothes out with your scent for your cat to curl up in.

Basically, you can say that scents are used by felines to communicate, within their own species and with humans, to identify each other, and to recognize territories as safe or unsafe.

Closing Thoughts

This heightened sense, and attraction towards smell is not just uniquely attributed to felines. Other animals such as dogs and horses also have a very powerful sense of smell.

Cats, however, often display extreme behavior in domestic settings, because they like to be immersed in the scent of their owner, as it allows them to feel safe and loved. If anything, the next time your cat curls up inside your smelly shoe box or lies down on your sweaty pile of clothes, consider it a compliment for yourself and an expression of immense love from your cat.

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