- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


cat sniffy face - world's dumbest question!

August 31st, 2009, 12:28 PM
okay - i have what may very well be deemed the world's dumbest question!

i have had cats all my life and have always wondered why they make that funny face when sniffing certain know the one i mean - they smell something, lift their heads, have their mouths partially open, and look like they are in some sort of a trance.

why do they do that? is it only certain smells that triggers this sniffy face? do they like the smell they are smelling or is it grossing them out?

(told ya it was a dumb question! ha!)

August 31st, 2009, 12:38 PM
Sensory overload basically...
Taken from:

A cat's sense of smell is fourteen times that of a human. In addition to being able to smell with their nose, cats also have a special sensory organ called the vomeronasal organ or Jacobson's organ. Located in the roof of the cat's mouth behind the teeth, the Jacobson's organ consists of two fluid-filled sacs that connect to the cat's nasal cavity.
Although the cat sort of looks like it's smiling or grimacing when it takes a big whiff, the act of opening the mouth and drawing up the air to the Jacobson's organ is called the "flehmen reaction". Essentially, the cat is opening her mouth to suck in the air into the Jacobson's organ and take a really deep sniff of the odor.
It may look like the cat is offended, but it's probably really enjoying itself. Cats learn all kinds of information about their surroundings through their sense of smell. They mark territory using the scent glands on their cheeks and paws. The glands secrete pheromones, which are chemical substances that stimulate a behavioral response, such as an avoidance or aggressive reaction. Pheromones are also found in saliva, feces, and urine. When cats "spray" it's another way they are marking territory.
The bottom line is that a cat is getting a tremendous amount of information from your living room. All those pieces of furniture she's rubbed up against reveal stories of who has been where when. In the house, the floor is undoubtedly a veritable novel of smells revealing stories of humans, canines, and felines wandering all over it.
So when a cat makes an open-mouth sniff, it's letting us know that the novel has a particularly exciting moment.

There is also..........

And not a dumb question at all. It's always a good thing to learn more about our furries. ;)

September 1st, 2009, 10:31 AM
thanks 14! good to know there is actually a name for it, rather than 'sniffy face'! and also good to know its generally a favourable smell! i was starting to get a complex with my kitten smelling my shoes - was about to buy stock in dr scholls or something! glad to hear my feet smell loverly to him! haha!

September 1st, 2009, 11:31 AM
I just learnt something new myself! Thanks for the info!:thumbs up