Why Does My Cat Smell My Breath?

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If you have noticed, your pet cat enjoys smelling your nose and mouth. Weird. Isn’t it? But actually, what do you expect from an animal that has 45-200 million olfactory receptors? People often complain about how cats smell when they eat something or sleep. They try to grab the face using their paws to smell. Whether you feel annoyed or not, they are never going to stop.

Well, the reason behind this action is that they are driven by instincts and a great sense of smell. They use the olfactory receptors even to sense the very smallest aroma that’s in the air. Also, cats use the scent as stimuli around them. Hence, they interpret the smell as a movement. By reading this article, you can discover the reasons behind this strange behavior of smelling your breath.

The science behind cat smelling

Since we have mentioned the olfactory receptors in cats above, you must know the acute information of what causes them stimuli. The epithelium is a tissue type that is responsible for cats to have a great sense of smell. These issues are available on the outer surface of the cat’s body at different parts. They will be covering the olfactory system, which triggers them to sense the smell.

Consider a human being of an average weight of 60kgs, and the smelling sensory is available in the surface area of 10cm2. In cats that weigh 30kgs, these smelling senses are present in 20cm2. That is why they tend to sniff around most often.

Now, this is proven right with the comparison of dogs and cats. As you know, commonly dogs are known for sniffing and smelling. Even humans use this as a tool to find lost objects or people, with the help of trained dogs. The reason behind it is that dogs have this epithelium more than cats.

Also, you must know that both cats and dogs have these olfactory sensors all over the body in higher proportion compared to human beings. It is because humans have a flat body surface, and bones are protruded everywhere. While in the case of cats and dogs, they have the bones curling and folding; hence, the placement of epithelium seems to be everywhere in the body.

Sense of Smell in Cats

The studies published earlier in 2017 came up with the theory that the cats’ smell is merely not a number game. It is understood that cats also possess scent receptor proteins in them, which allows them to differentiate the smell in the environment. This protein is available in humans as two variants while cats have like thirty.

Hence, cats use the sense of smell naturally to extract information from the environment. Especially when it comes to the owners, they can analyze every particular scent that is changing every moment. When they feel dangerous or find something predatory, the advanced sensors in them are open, and they can taste the substance and analyze the smell. It may sound weird, but it can happen with any cat.

In this technique, they keep their nostrils closed and inhale near the object with their mouth open. In this way, they can use the flehmen tissue to understand the smell. But this is only used when they feel the danger in the surrounding or wanted to find their potential mate.

Hence, when the cats try to smell your breath, there is no need to worry. They are merely and unavoidably trying to extract information from your surroundings. However, there are other times when cats smell your face surprisingly.

Here is a table that will help you understand why cats try to smell your breath.

Cats Smelling behavior What do they mean?
Sniffing near the noseChecking if you are Dehydrated
Cough and Cold
Smelling near the mouthTo see what have you eaten  
Calling you for an interaction
Smelling while SleepingWant to go out 
To stop you from snoring
  • When you have eaten

Indeed, cats can quickly feel when you have eaten in the last few hours. Since they can smell the human saliva and recognize the kind of food you had, especially if you had eaten their favorite food like fish or meat, they suddenly become pecky around you. All you need to do is offer them similar food, or if you want them to be avoided, then you need to eat some fruits just after the meal and, they will withdraw automatically. You can also offer them some catnip chew sticks to distract their minds.

  • When they want to greet you

Cats tend to smell your nose or breathe because they want to greet you. It is one of the most common signs. When they are very close to the owner, they try to greet them by coming near your face. Every cat has their style, or it’s how the owners have practiced them. Some cats tend to give cheek kisses or rub their tail against the face, and so on. You don’t have to be worried as this is one of the feline communications, and they are not trying to smell you in deep.

  • When they want to check your health

It is one of the sweetest things you will come across. Even many vets believe that cats can smell human breath when the owners feel sick. The cats are trying to keep a check on the breath to analyze your general health. Since they know the difference in the smell of saliva, it can easily understand any other fluids or discharges from the body. The cats become worried about your illness and do not come near you easily. Behavior analysts say it’s not because they don’t want to be affected. Still, only they understand that you are in pain.

  • When cats want to feel comforted

Cats are drawn and comforted by the smell of the owner. Especially they are very attracted to warmth and moisture. When cats try to smell your breath, they are probably experiencing comfort and security being near you. Many people have said that the first thing the cats do when they wake up is to come to their owner and try sitting near the face. As long as the owner neglects the behavior, they keep following them. You can also offer them thermal mats that provide them with good warmth.

The Wrap Up

We hope this article would have given you a better idea of why cats smell your breath. Next time don’t try to avoid this behavior. Instead, acknowledge them, or you can even put them into practice. As soon as you see them in the morning and evening, keep them closer to your face and rub their cheeks and pat them. Encourage them subtly, so this will not become annoying for you.


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