Printed August 23, 2021
Observe: Your cat crouches along with his nostril down, nuzzling the bottom, earlier than glancing up along with his mouth barely (and comically) open. So, why do cats open their mouths after smelling one thing? It seems it is a conduct known as the flehmen response. Let’s check out what precisely the flehmen response in cats is!
Why Do Cats Open Their Mouths After Smelling One thing?
Though it might seem that your cat is staring in open-mouthed disbelief, there’s truly a cause he pulls this humorous face: Your cat is analyzing a brand new or unusual scent—however as a substitute of doing so by the nostrils, he’s “scent-sucking” by the roof of his mouth.
That is known as the flehmen response.
So, What’s the Flehmen Response in Cats?
Anthrozoologist John Bradshaw explains that the flehmen response opens up two small ducts on the roof of your cat’s mouth behind the incisors. This permits the scent to journey to the vomeronasal organ, additionally known as Jacobson’s organ, on the roof of the mouth.
“Cats use the flehmen response to detect chemical stimuli, resembling pheromones, which might be current in urine and feces, or areas that cats have marked with scent glands,” says Dr. Sasha Gibbons of Simply Cats Veterinary Hospital in Stamford, Connecticut.
The flehmen response is a voluntary motion and regarded a way that lies someplace between scent and style.
Male Cats vs. Feminine Cats
In response to Dr. Gibbons, male cats are extra probably to make use of the flehmen response in relation to mating. Feminine cats, then again, could use it to maintain observe of their kittens.
After all, neutered male cats and spayed feminine cats probably use the flehmen response with out mating or kittens on the thoughts.
Which Different Animals Exhibit The Flehmen Response?
Cats are simply one in all dozens of animals that exhibit the flehmen response. Canines, camels, llamas, goats, horses, tapirs, rhinos, rams, elk, giraffes, buffalos, hedgehogs, and extra have the flehmen response. Even your cat’s wild relations—lions and tigers—present this conduct!
Though most individuals suppose that canines have the higher hand in terms of sense of scent, cats even have a stronger flehmen response. In response to Bradshaw, the typical tabby has 30 various kinds of receptors within the vomeronasal organ whereas a hound canine has simply 9.
As soon as upon a time, people could have had the flehmen response—however no extra. Slate studies that proof of the vomeronasal organ is seen throughout human fetal improvement. Nonetheless, when a child is born, “the one remaining clues are a pair of pits on the backside of our nostrils the place the ducts used to hook up with the organ.”
Don’t Confuse the Flehmen Response in Cats for Open-Mouth Respiratory
The flehmen response in cats is nothing to fret about—it’s a completely regular conduct. Nonetheless, don’t confuse it with different indicators out of your cat that will truly be trigger for concern.
Panting or open-mouth respiration could also be an indication that your cat has bronchial asthma or is experiencing some type of respiratory misery. If you happen to discover these signs persistently or a respiratory price of over 50 breaths/minute, name your vet or make a visit to the emergency clinic. (Trace: Rely the variety of breaths in 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to get the full breaths per minute.)
Panting generally is a signal of warmth exhaustion or warmth stroke in cats. Even when it’s not a sizzling summer time day, understand that your cat might be experiencing points associated to warmth after turning into trapped in a garments dryer or in a shed or different construction with unregulated temperatures; after being left in a confined house with out entry to water or shade, resembling a sunroom; or after being left in a cage in direct daylight.
Lastly, panting after enjoying generally is a signal of hyperthyroidism in cats.
When unsure, name your veterinarian or head to an emergency clinic to get your cat checked out!
The Extra You Know
So, now you understand why your cat makes that humorous open-mouth face after smelling one thing. Unfold the information: The flehmen response in cats (and plenty of different animals) is an intriguing factoid that you could impress different pet mother and father with!