How Far Can Cats Smell?
You won’t be surprised to hear that a cat’s sense of smell is pretty amazing.
It is likely that they can smell their dinner before they have had a chance to see it. This might have gotten you thinking about how far a car can actually smell.
To put it simply, cats are able to smell things up to a distance of 4 miles, which is around 14 times of a bigger range than us humans. Impressive, right?
The reason they can smell so far away is down to having evolved as a species, and it means they are great hunters of prey.
So, with all this in mind, let’s take a look at a cat’s sense of smell in more detail.
How Does A Cat Smell So Far Away?
When it comes to a cat’s nose, they have around 200 million sensors that detect odors. In comparison to us humans, we only have 5 million.
Think about all those smells we would be picking up whilst running an errand - it would get too much!
They are officially called olfactory receptors which cats have a fair few million of unlike us humans who don’t.
This means that your cat will be in the same room and be able to detect scents that we will never be able to.
Because a cat’s nose can pick up smells much better than us, this means they have a scent range of around 4 miles.
No wonder your kitty always smells her lunch before it even ends up in the bowl.
So What Is A Cat’s Olfactory Receptor?
Olfactory receptors are really important when it comes to detecting the smells around us.
They help the connection between the nose and the brain to figure out what it is that is being smelt.
Once a cat sniffs at something and takes up the molecules of odor, they begin to dissolve as soon as they reach the mucus in the canal of the nasal cavity.
The olfactory cells in this area use something called cilia to make sure the mucus reaches the olfactory receptors.
As soon as the molecules reach the receptors and bind together, this then sends the signal all the way to the brain so the smell can be linked with the actual thing that is being sniffed at.
Why Do Cats Use Their Sense Of Smell?
Once the kitten is born, they have their ability to smell.
Whilst they are blind at this stage, they use their noses to figure out the world around them, but most of all to seek out the milk from their mother.
Just like they did at birth, they will continue to use their sense of smell to find and seek out food, whether that is in the wild of the backyard, or inside the home.
Not only that, a cat also has an organ connected to the nasal cavities called the vomeronasal which lives in the mouth.
You may have noticed that when your cat sniffs an object, they also have their mouth slightly open.
This is because they are not only using their nose but the organ too.
It can help to identify and smell something, and it has the ability to pick up pheromones, but also a wide variety of scents which humans cannot detect.
Because a cat has a unique pheromone, it means that they can use it to mark their own territory.
They use the vomeronasal to pick up the pheromones of other cats. This isn’t just about territory either, a male cat can smell a female cat who is in heat a few miles away.
How Do Cats React To New Smells?
A cat may find a new smell a threat to them which can keep them pretty safe whilst they are wandering outdoors.
This means that they also use their amazing sense of smell to protect themselves too.
This is because whilst they are outdoors, they will be using their sense of smell before their own sight to navigate.
If there is a smell that is not familiar, they will be very cautious as it cannot be trusted.
For example, if they can smell another cat, it is likely they will attempt to defend themselves and their territory.
Sometimes however, they may just show caution to the new cat.
How Does Scent And Owners Of A Cat Connect?
Just like we said above, a cat can smell their owner around 4 miles away, but did you know they can also recognize who you are just by your scent? Of course you did!
You may notice that your cat spends a lot of time sniffing you and getting to know you. This way they learn your scent and become familiar with it in order not to feel threatened.
Doing this means they can trust you, and know you will not become a threat to them.
Over time, once a cat becomes familiar with a scent like that of their owner, they relate it to feeling safe and protected.
Do Cats Have A Homing Instinct?
You may find that your cat goes missing from time to time, but then shows up out of the blue as if nothing has happened - or has a present for you in the shape of a mouse.
It is said that cats have a natural instinct to find their way home, though some cats have a stronger sense than others.
However, it is also said that some cats struggle with this and can never find their way home. More studies are needed.
Even so, cats can smell their owners from up to 4 miles away, which can help them to find their way back home.
Cats have an amazing sense of smell, with being able to detect scents from up to 4 miles away.
This means that it is not surprising when kitty appears at the kitchen door when you are opening up her favorite can of cat food.
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