People smell through their noses and taste through their mouths but felines can do something special; cats taste scents. Yes, your kitty is able to taste the scent of your perfume or the aroma of food you’ve hidden in the fridge. It’s a curious thing for us and a helpful skill for cats.
How Cats Taste Scents
Cats have an extra organ called vomeronasal or Jacobson’s organ. It’s found in the roof of the mouth which allows your kitty to “taste scents” and recognize pheromones. When a cat gets a sniff of something interesting and wants to take a closer sniff, he or she opens its mouth and slightly stick out its tongue. The air passes over the front of the tongue and through the vomeronasal organ which transmits the scent molecules to the hypothalamus. This way, a cat gets a closer “taste” of the smell. Usually, this triggers a flehmen response from kitties.
When cats taste scents, they usually exhibit the flehmen response. This is when a cat gives an odd-looking sneer. Cats curl their lips and others also stick out their tongue. Some people find this amusing and others think it to be an expression of disgust. However, it’s really just a kitty trying to understand a certain scent better.
Why Cats Taste Scents
One of the most important basic senses of cats is smelling. The sense of smell is a cat’s best ally when it comes to hunting for food, looking out for danger and finding a mate. Cats utilize their olfactory a lot, it’s no surprise that they they have added ability to “taste scents.” “Taste-scenting” is helpful to cats as it allows them to analyze a scent. In a sense, this ability is kind of a way for cats to study their environment further. So, next time you see your kitty hanging its mouth open as if eating air, you know he’s just tasting scents.