Why Do Cats Hold Their Mouths Open After Smelling Something?
Cats hold their mouth open after smelling something because of their Jacobson’s organ, a special sensory organ called the vomeronasal organ or Jacobson’s organ that allows a cat to have 14 times the sense of smell of a human.
The act of opening the mouth and drawing up the air to the Jacobson’s organ is called the “flehmen reaction”.
So, why do cats open their mouth when they smell? 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.
This special sensory organ called the vomeronasal organ or Jacobson’s organ allows a cat to have 14 times the sense of smell of a human.
The reason they look dazed for a second or two is because they can learn a lot 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.
What is the purpose of the flehmen response?
The flehmen response is heavily tied to identifying pheromones, which is extremely important for cats. As such, it plays a huge role in interspecies communication. The vomeronasal organ is olfactory-chemosensory organ which can help animals gather chemical messages from their peers.
Where is the vomeronasal organ located?
In cats, the vomeronasal organ is located inside the roof of their mouths. It has ducts leading to the mouth and the nose called the nasopalatine canals. On the roof of the cat’s mouth, just behind its incisors, you can see two openings.
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