Cats seem to trust their noses to understand the world better than we humans do.
Cats detect odors and pheromones (chemicals produced and released by other cats) through their olfactory systems. For indoor cats, appreciating the importance of their sense of smell will greatly enrich their environments, which generally means a happier cat.
Therefore, we must ensure that our cats enjoy pleasant smells , and avoid, as far as possible, smells that cats cannot bear.
How is the sense of smell in cats
The first thing to keep in mind is that a cat’s sense of smell is approximately fourteen times more developed than that of a human. This is largely due to the fact that a cat’s entire nasal organ is much larger than a human’s; The olfactory system of a cat runs through most of its head.
Your cat’s sense of smell helps him:
- Survival –A cat can smell potential enemies and the dangers that lie ahead. Cats have an organ known as the vomeronasal organ (Jacobson’s organ). It is a very strong receptor, mainly for pheromones. Help your cat detect predators, competition, companions, and prey. This gland is located between the palate and the nostrils of cats. Formed by two bags with blind ends, the air passes through them towards the interior. They often seem to wince or smile when sniffing out particular smells.
- Hunting: Cats are primarily olfactory hunters , while we humans are better visual hunters. This is not to say that cat eyes are inferior, but rather that instead of relying so heavily on central vision to obtain details, a cat’s eyes serve, above all, to detect movements, not colors and details.
- Social interaction: in their relationships with their kind when seen, they smell each other to recognize each other . Cats, if they get together for the first time, or are long-time companions, generally greet each other by touching and sniffing each other’s noses. The nose touch is a social exchange that puts both cats in an equally vulnerable position.
- Sexual reproduction: Jacobson’s organis believed to be used primarily for the detection of pheromones . Female cats, when “in heat” , excrete a very powerful chemical signal that male cats can detect at long distances. Male cats also, when they spray, leave a message about themselves that helps the female cats to know of their availability.
Smells that cats hate
- Aromas of citrus
Lemons, limes, and oranges are the scents that cats hate. If you are trying to scare cats out of your yard, use the discarded orange peels in the area you want to protect. Cats also hate the taste of citrus fruits, so you can use it to discourage them from chewing on certain things.
Most animals have an aversion to the odors of certain plants because they are toxic. A clear example of this is eucalyptus. Eucalyptus essential oils can be toxic to cats and dogs.
- Indoor and outdoor plants
When you are planting in your garden or even decorating your home with indoor plants, consider not using certain plants. Thyme, geranium, lavender, wintergreen, are some scents that cats cannot tolerate. Avoid having these types of plants unless you want your cat to stay away from certain areas.
- Household cleaners
Those strong, fragrant cleaners you’re using around your house. Well, I have to tell you, your cat hates them. Your cat has a highly developed sense of smell, so these chemicals can bother him. You can find many natural cleaners with minimal odor that are much less harsh on your cat.
- Dirty litter box
It’s important to make sure your cat’s litter box is clean at all times. They don’t like to smell their own scents, and if you don’t clean the litter box enough, they will find another place to go. And that place can be your favorite rug, flower pots or your bathtub. Cats just need to keep things clean and tidy, their noses can’t stand strong odors.
- Bad fish
Like humans, cats can’t stand the foul smell of outdated fish. Do not try to give it to him, he will reject it and if he ingests it you can cause intoxication to your cat.
Smells that attract cats
Catmint, Nepeta cataria or Catnip, catnip is irresistible to between 70% and 80% of cats . It creates in cats a state of euphoria, which translates into behaviors very similar to sexual courtship; thus the cat jumps, runs, rubs itself with the plant, licks the plant and even ingests it, causing a narcotic effect of about 10 minutes.
Cat grass is not harmful or addictive to cats and can be found in some cat toys, to stimulate play and achieve healthy cats without realizing they are exercising. On other occasions it is used in sprays to direct the cat to the scratching post and prevent it from scratching the sofa and furniture, by spraying nepetalactone on the scratching post, it attracts them to it.
Valerian root is an herb that has been used for centuries in people to combat anxiety, insomnia, etc. Valerian has the opposite effect in cats, often causing hyperarousal similar to that seen in some cats when they take catnip.
The actinidin in valerian acts as a stimulant for some cats that are exposed to it. These cats will often start to roll, play, and act excited. They can also drool.
- Chlorine and cats
There are cats that react to the smell of chlorine in the same way as they do to catnip.
These cats will chew on the owner’s hair or towel after they have been in the pool, or will try to lick surfaces that have recently been cleaned with bleach or other cleaning products that contain it.
But beware, chlorine is bad for cats , so cats should avoid consuming it.
My cat, when my wife hangs the freshly washed clothes, is usually around the clothesline smelling. He loves it!
- Shampoo and Perfume
Again, cats’ predilection for clean smelling things may be what drives them crazy for the smell of shampoo and perfume. Don’t use that as an excuse to spray kitty with your favorite cologne, though! And don’t even think about using your favorite shampoo on it. The chemicals they contain will not be tolerated by your cat’s stomach.
My cat Nina loves to get into the shower after we have bathed. Especially when my son is taking a shower.
- Plastic bags
It has always been a mystery to me, why cats are always curious when they see you coming home with plastic bags. They observe them and then sniff and lick the plastic bags.
As it turned out, there are several reasons why they do it:
- Plastic bags are treated with stearates, which are derived from sebum. Others have lanolin. Both substances can trigger the carnivorous instincts of cats.
- The crunching sound reminds them of the small prey that cats commonly stalk.
- Some plastic bags are made from biodegradable materials like cornstarch, and some cats love this smell.
- Some plastics have a flavor that can be pleasant to your cat.
- When we carry our food in these bags, and we remove it from the plastic bags, its tempting smell is impregnated in them. It may be that smell that actually attracts our cats.
- Dirty shoes and socks
We all know that cats are fans of cleanliness, right? So it may seem funny that you like the smell of stinky shoes and socks, but wait a minute! I have an explanation for that.
Our feet are the part of our bodies that our cats have frequent contact with. The sweat and the smell that emanates from them are full of our pheromones, and that is what attracts them. It reminds them of us, the people they love, so they enjoy them.
- Cats and bleach
Many cat owners find that their cat is attracted to the smell of bleach or bleach. Those cats can have the same reaction to bleach as they do to catnip .
Unfortunately, we do not know why. But researchers believe it is related to the chemical composition of bleach. They especially think that cats are attracted to the chlorine in bleach.
There is probably something about catnip and chlorine that acts as a pheronome for cats . A pheronome is a chemical that causes a natural reaction in certain creatures.
So when cats are exposed to pheromones or chemicals that mimic pheromones, they are attracted to the smell. And naturally they start to behave differently. This is why your cat may drool, rub, roll, or purr when exposed to bleach or catnip.
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