Why Do Cats Open Their Mouths When They Smell? (Explained)

why do cats open their mouths when they smell

Ever wondered why our feline friends open their mouths when they smell?

Bet you've caught yourself thinking, "What on earth are they trying to achieve?" 😄

Ahh, the endless mysteries of the cat world.

But fear not, for today I shall reveal the truth behind this peculiar behavior.

So, without further ado, let's embark on this mind-boggling journey together.

Let's begin...

The Connection Between a Cat's Sense of Smell and Mouth Opening

Cats have an incredible sense of smell, way better than our puny human noses.

They've got a whopping 200 million olfactory receptors!

They can smell things that we can't even imagine.

Their keen sense helps them pick up on subtle smells and tell the difference between scents easily.

It's like they have their own little superpower built right into their tiny bodies.

But here's the interesting part: when cats smell something interesting, they open their mouths.

Why do they do this?

Let me explain.

Cats use their strong sense of smell not just to find tasty treats or prey, but also as a way of communication.

They release pheromones from specific scent glands on their face, paws, and even near female cats' nipples. These pheromones carry important messages for other cats and humans.

The Connection Between a Cat's Sense of Smell and Mouth Opening
Cats open their mouths when sniffing so you can learn plenty about their world, how they're feeling, and who they hang out with.

Now here's the cool part.

To process these intriguing scents, cats have a special organ called the Jacobson's organ, or the vomeronasal organ for the technical folks.

When cats open their mouths and 'sniff' the air, they're actually using what's known as the flehmen response.

During this strange behavior, they take in the scent molecules and redirect them to their Jacobson's organ.

The nerves in the Jacobson's organ then send a direct message to the cat's brain, decoding the scent and revealing all its secrets.

This whole process is like a secret conversation happening inside your cat's head.

And get this – cats have up to 200 million olfactory receptors, while us clumsy humans only have a measly 5 million.

No wonder cats are such skilled smell detectives.

So next time you see your furry friend opening their mouth like that, remember they're just trying to uncover the mysteries of the scents around them.

It's another fascinating aspect of what makes cats so unique and mesmerizing!

Main points I'll expand upon further down this article:

  1. Cats make a funny face or lip curl when they smell interesting scents.
  2. This behavior, known as the flehmen response, is a sign of curiosity.
  3. Cats open their mouths to draw scents into their Jacobson's organ.
  4. The flehmen response allows cats to thoroughly analyze scents and obtain olfactory information.
  5. This behavior is not based on whether the smell is pleasant or unpleasant.
  6. Male cats use this response to find potential mates and explore interesting scents.
  7. Female cats may use the flehmen response to keep track of their kittens.
  8. Other animals like horses, elephants, and pandas also exhibit similar behavior.
  9. Cats have glands that secrete pheromones for communication.
  10. Panting or open-mouth breathing in cats can indicate medical issues.

And it gets even more intriguing.

Would you believe that there's one particular scent that cats are completely repulsed by?

Find out in the next section how cats react to this mysterious odor and why it elicits such a strong response from our feline friends...

The Fascinating Link Between Cats' Smelling and Mouth Movements

The funny face that cats make when smelling interesting scents is the flehmen response. This behavior allows them to capture smells using their vomeronasal organ, conveniently tucked in their mouths.

Despite common misconceptions, this expression does not mean they dislike something. Rather, it signifies their curiosity and eagerness to investigate further.

The Fascinating Link Between Cats' Smelling and Mouth Movements
Cats open their mouths to sniff so they can understand smells better with their vomeronasal organ. When you see your cat doing that weird face, know that they're collecting interesting scents - it's a glimpse into their curious behavior!

When cats open their mouths during sniffing, they’re actually trying to analyze the intriguing scents with great precision.

This fascinating act allows them to gather intricate olfactory clues and information.

Interestingly, the vomeronasal organ, also known as Jacobson's organ, plays a crucial role in this scent-capturing process.

Investigating the Phenomenon of Cats' Mouth Opening When Experiencing Smells

Curious why cats go wide mouthed when they come across a tantalizing odor?

Well, my friend, today we're going deep into this peculiar feline phenomenon.

Let's cut to the chase and talk about female cats.

When these clever kitties spread their jaws open, it's called the "flehmen response." This little trick is how female cats can suss out their own kittens amidst a crowd.

It's like their secret code.

They're so sneaky.

By sucking in scents through their Jacobson's organ (which is specifically designed for sniff analysis), they can identify unique pheromones left during grooming sessions.

Pretty neat, right?

And gentlemen cats don't want to be left out of the fun either.

They're all about that flehmen response, too.

Investigating the Phenomenon of Cats' Mouth Opening When Experiencing Smells
When cats smell something, they open their mouths - it's called the flehmen response. You see, they're not just sniffing, they're really digging deep into scents and getting all the juicy details.

But with different intentions, mind you.

These dashing fellows employ this technique in order to locate potential mates and explore intriguing smells, almost like they're on an olfactory-driven adventure, trying to uncover all the secrets nature has to offer. And who could blame them?

Now, here's a fascinating tidbit:

This quirky behavior isn't only found in cats.

Other critters shake up their scent game as well.

Horses, elephants, and pandas also go for the mouth-opening move whenever they come across captivating odors.

Something tells me there's more to the sense of smell than meets the eye...

Please keep in mind, friends, the flehmen response is totally normal cat behavior. Just make sure you don't mistake it for panting or breathing troubles. If your furry pal is constantly gasping for air or panting heavily, it may indicate a medical emergency.

There are certain smells and substances that can be toxic to cats, and even the whiff of another male cat or its spray can trigger the flehmen response in males. Cats have quite the knack for smelling things, thanks to the abundance of receptors in their vomeronasal organ.

So, when your cat unveils a jaw-dropping mouth-opening extravaganza, they want to tell you, "Hey, there's something interesting going on!" Before I say goodbye, let me remind you that panting in cats could be a warning sign for potential medical concerns like asthma, respiratory distress, heat stroke, poisoning, or hyperthyroidism.

Take good care of those sniffers, my friends!

And that wraps up today's article.

If you wish to read more of my useful articles, I recommend you check out some of these: Why Does My Cat Wag Her Tail While Purring, Why Does My Cat Like Her Nose Rubbed, Does Catnip Make Cats High, Why Does My Cat Like My Husband More Than Me, and What Do Cats Think About

Talk soon,

-Sarah Davis

Sarah Davis

Howdy howdy, I'm Sarah Davis, and I'm all about cats – that's right, those mysterious, independent furballs we adore. So welcome to my blog "I Care for Cats", where I dish out the real talk on cat food, health, training, behavior, and so much more. My goal? To help your feline friends live their best nine lives.