What Exactly is a Cat Flehmen Response?

There is a face that a cat makes that have many cat owners baffled as to what the face is, and what it means. When a cat sniffs something and gets a concerning look, or maybe a look of surprise on his face over whatever it is they just smelled, it may have caught you by surprise and made you even a bit concerned as to if everything was okay with your little feline. The look makes your cat look upward a bit with slightly curled-back lips. It is the look of response to the smell, and it has a scientific name, “The Flehhmen Response.” But why does this look happen anyways? Well, here’s why.

The Flehman look can make cat parents laugh when they see it. Many refer to it as the “Stinky look,” because it really looks as if they’ve discovered something stinky and it has disgusted them. When they get this look, their lips literally curl up slightly over their teeth and their lip is probably raised up on one side, in a disgusted look. They become frozen in their tracks, so-to-speak, and appear to be sneering.

Dr. Sasha Gibbons of Just Cats Veterinary Hospital in Stamford, Connecticut explains this response as a cat’s reaction to changes in smell around the house or their environment, such as, even a house guest, or a new toy, a new piece of furniture, food they’ve not ever eaten before, just about anything, can trigger the response. They are creatures of habit and want everything the same, so when new smells enter their environment, like a dog, they sniff things out. Well, although they are inhaling, the inhaling isn’t really done through their nostrils like humans or dogs. They inhale through their open mouths.

When cats inhale through their mouths, according to Anthrozoologist John Bradshaw, this opens two small ducts known as nasopalatine canals, which are located on the roof of the animal’s mouth, just behind their incisor teeth. These little ducts go through the roof of the mouth and meet up with the vomeronasal organ, (a.k.a. the Jacobson’s organ). This functions as a, sort of, auxiliary olfactory bulb.

Some scientists think that the Flehiman response is a sort of sixth sense because it a response that is both a sense of smell and taste. Basically, the Flehman response for cats, is an automatic way for them to take in smells the same way that we do with our breathing. And cats actually have better vomeronasal organs than that of their counter friend, the dog. Cats have 30 different receptors in this organ, whereby, a hound dog, known for his prominent sniffing abilities, only has nine.

When it comes to cats using this sense, typically a male cat will use it more than a female cat. There is something having to do with mating that causes males to use this sense more than females, according to Dr. Gibbons, and it all has something to do with males using it to sense if the timing is right with a female they’ve come in contact with. and if they sense a sort of compatibility.

In the end, this is a harmless act by cats and if you ever see your cat wearing this expression, just know that they have come in contact with a smell that caused them to react this way. They have not only smelled it, but essentially tasted it, an are trying to decipher what it is. All you need to do is ignore the look, or giggle at it, maybe snap a pic, if you can, because it is quite funny when you catch them wearing the look.

Add Comment

10 Reasons to Follow “Chase No Face” The Cat on Social Media
What is Catnip Tea and What are the Benefits?
A Brief History Of The Fort Collins Cat Rescue
Cat Patios (Catios) Have Become The Newest Way to Spoil Your Kitty
Houston Driver Stops Traffic on Busy Toll Road to Save Cat
Adorable Kitten with Cleft Lip is the Cutest Thing You’ll See All Day
Long Lost London Cat Shows Up Eight Years Later in Paris
No Preview
Officer Saves Cat’s Life and Then Rescues Cat
The 50 Cutest Kitten Pictures of All-Time
20 Cats That Look Like Other Things
20 Cat Memes That are Simply Unforgettable
20 Pictures of Cats Who Just Woke Up
10 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Seal Point Cats
20 Cool Facts about Peterbald Cats
What Characteristics Define a Mackerel Tabby Cat?
20 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About the Ocicat
The Top 20 Best Cat Toys of 2018
Do Cats Cry? What to Do About Your Crying Cat
10 Fun Facts About Cat Eyes You Probably Didn’t Know
20 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Calico Cats
The 20 Most Viewed Cat Videos in Youtube History
20 Cat Documentaries You Need to See
20 Kitten Parodies that are Worth Watching
20 Adorable Videos of Cats Drinking Milk
How to Construct the Perfect Playpen for Kittens
20 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know about the Cornish Rex
20 Fun Facts You Never Knew About Cat Rescues
The Top 20 Cat Safety Travel Tips