Did you ever see your cat turn up his nose to something smelly, such as a rivals urine mark or a good fish?

This is called the ‘Flehmen response‘. It’s a way for cats to use their vomeronasal organ (also called the┬áJacobson’s organs) to get a better smell of the object or smells like pheromones. This organ provides the cat extra sensory information to better understand what he is smelling.

In The Mouth

The organ is found between the hard palate of the mouth and the septum of the nose. The Jacobson’s organs link to the hypothalamus in the brains that functions as a soft of switchboard to direct the information to other areas. Tiny ducts connect them to the openings behind the cats teeth in the roof of their mouth.

All cats use this mechanism to analyze pheromones but boy cats show the flehmen sneer most often. That may be because they are particularly attuned to checking out sex-related information even if they’re neutered.


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20 Responses to “Sneering”

  1. kirbysdawgblog

    I never heard of this before, or seen my cat do it. How interesting! Looks like he’s really ticked off, glad to know it means something completely different!

  2. alienredqueen

    I’ve seen my cats do this, like it says, when they smell something they really want to get a good sniff at. It looks kind of like they are panting.

  3. Sid Dunnebacke

    Well. I figured the “stinky face” (what we call it) was something like that, but I never looked into it in detail. Happy Friday, by the way.

  4. heretherebespiders

    When we see that we always say, ‘something sure smells interesting!’ Usually it’s cat pee that gets that reaction, say if we get a strange cat’s pee smell on us from the car tire, ect.

    The other animal that has the Jacobsen’s organ (that I’m aware of) is the snake! I know a lot about snakes, too :)


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