By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 6 April 2011)
Cats have a weaker sense of taste than people. A human has approximately 9,000 taste buds, compared to 473 for a cat.
How much better is a cat’s sense of smell than that of a human?
Cats rely on their sense of smell more than any other. While a cat’s visual acuity is 10 times lower than that of a person, she has 200 million odour-sensitive cells in her nose compared to a human’s paltry 5 million.
The cat’s well-developed sense of smell ensures that scents play a significant role in feline social communication. Rubbing their bodies on things, scratching objects, and spraying all leave scent messages for other cats.
Cats even have an organ in the roofs of their mouths called the vomeronasal organ that enables them to gather additional information about scents, which may help with finding fertile mates and suitable prey. When a cat appears to be grimacing with her mouth open as though she has encountered a disgusting smell, she is actually engaging in the Flehmen response, which directs scent molecules toward the vomeronasal organ.
For more cat articles, see the main Cats page.
- Cats International. (2007). “The Cat’s Sense of Taste” and “The Amazing Sense of Smell.” CatsInternational.org.