Fun Facts About The Cat Nose
Dr. Joyce Ashamalla
Dr. Joyce Ashamalla is the managing partner at Hinsdale Animal Hospital with Kremer Veterinary Service, as well as a partner at CARE Animal Emergency Hospital. She received her BS in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois- Champaign Urbana, where she also completed her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 2007. She is AO certified, USDA-APHIS accredited, and is a member of the CVMA, ISVMA, AVMA.
A cat’s nose couldn’t be any cuter – it’s lovely heart shape is a miracle of nature. In addition to being cute, a cat’s nose is very powerful and important to their well-being. So important that even before a kitten opens her eyes, she can recognize her mother’s scent. Read on to learn some fun facts about your cat’s nose, like why it is wet, and how amazing her sense of smell really is.
Why Are Cats Noses Wet?
A question frequently heard by veterinarians is why is my cat’s nose wet? Which is generally followed by: if my cat’s nose is dry, does that mean she is sick? A cat’s nose actually changes from wet to dry frequently throughout the day and a dry nose can sometimes mean your cat is ill, but not always. You’ll find that a cat’s nose is dry after she lies in the sun or sits in a dry room, but the majority of the time, your cat’s nose should be wet. This moisture comes from her sweat glands producing fluid on the nose skin, and some moisture also comes from drainage of the lower tear duct. A wet nose helps cats regulate their body temperature and it also improves their sense of smell. Although if you notice your cat has a runny nose, it may be time for a trip to the vet. A frequent symptom of illness is a runny nose, and this could be a sign of an upper respiratory infection.
Cat’s Sense of Smell
Cats have about 200 million scent receptors in their noses, while dogs have anywhere from 150 to 300 million. Outdoor cats mark their territory by spraying urine which allows other cats to use their sense of smell to learn about other cats in the area. Not surprisingly, cats use their noses to find prey and to sense predators. And just like dogs, cats sniff each other as a greeting and use the scents to gather information about the other animal. But one unique fact about a cat’s sense of smell is that they use their noses to tell them when to eat because their tongues have fewer taste buds as compared to humans. It is believed that because cats are obligate carnivores, they cannot taste ‘sweets’ well because they do not consume carbohydrates. So it’s the smell, not the taste of the food, that causes your cat to eat.
A cat’s sense of smell is also very sensitive, allowing them to discriminate between a variety of smells. Scent receptor proteins called V1Rs in a cat’s nose give them the ability to separate one scent from another. Cats have 30 versions of this protein, while dogs have nine and humans have only two! There have already been a number of documented cases where cats have detected cancer in humans and other felines, which shows you how powerful a cat’s sense of smell truly is.
Now that you know all about a cat’s nose and their incredible sense of smell, you realize how important it is her daily life. From regulating body temperature to informing her about predators and stimulating her appetite, a cat’s sense of smell is vital. And as a loving cat owner, it’s necessary to pay attention to the condition of your cat’s nose since it can also tell you about their health.
Interested in learning about a dog’s sense of smell? Read about it here.
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