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How Does a Cat’s Sense of Smell Compare to a Dog’s?

Patricia Dickson

By Patricia Dickson

orange cat smelling something

Having a keen sense of smell is essential to the survival of dogs and cats in the wild. While it’s not as crucial for domesticated pets, it’s still essential, and the sense of smell carries forward from the dog and cat’s ancestors. Cats are thought to have a stronger sense of smell than dogs, but do they?

There has been debate in the past as to which animals smell is stronger. How does a cat’s sense of smell compare to a dog’s? Do they have a more sensitive nose? The shocking answer is … Yes! Cats have more sensitive noses. Let’s figure out more about this below.

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Can Cats Smell Better Than Dogs Can?

Cats have been proven to have an average of 30 V1R receptors in their noses, whereas dogs only have nine and humans only have two. It stands to reason that with these numbers, cats have the more sensitive nose across all three of these species. It’s also been found that cats have a better ability to distinguish between scents than dogs do. However, dogs are easier to train for scent detection, and that’s why canines are used for bomb, drug, and cadaver detection.

Cats use those receptors and their powerful sense of smell to track and locate their prey. This strong sense of smell also allows the feline to detect aromatic food, find their way home when they are lost, and tell where other animals and people are based on the scent they pick up from them.

dog smelling leaf
Image Credit: Mylene2401, Pixabay

Cats Use Their Nose to Decide Which Foods to Eat

Cats use their noses to decide which substances are appealing. However, unlike people who choose what to eat by the way their food tastes, cats determine what to eat by how the food smells. While they do have many scent receptors, they have very few taste receptors, which means they have to depend on their sense of smell above all else when it comes to food.

Strong Smells Can Cause Respiratory Problems in Cats

Many pet owners don’t know that pungent smells can cause respiratory problems in felines. Products such as essential oils or household cleaners can leave your cat with respiratory issues and difficulty breathing. Aerosol sprays, strong perfumes, and infusers can cause problems for your feline friend. Since essential oils have toxic components, keeping them out of your house is best. Strong fragrances, household cleaners, and aerosol sprays should be stored securely to keep your pet safe.

sad lonely cat
Image By: medveda, Shutterstock

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It’s been proven that cats have a better sense of smell than dogs. However, both animals have sensitive noses. Although dogs are more reliable for scent training, the cat’s nose is no less advanced.

If you’re looking to adopt or purchase a cat, remember that there are some smells that your cat shouldn’t be around, such as strong perfumes and many household cleaners. Take the necessary steps to protect your cat’s respiratory system, and you’ll have a healthy, happy cat for many years.

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