Having a feline friend is never boring. Every day is an entertaining day. You can see your feline friend play around your sofa. None stop going up and down its tower. Catching a bug. The craziest is when they start to play with your gadgets and computer. There’s this one cute observation I have seen, my cat is with mouth open.
At first, I thought my cat was smiling at me. Then, I got bothered that my cat with mouth open sometimes looked bizarre. Is it normal to have my cat with its mouth open?
Though I am bothered that my cat is with mouth open, I am glad that this is nothing to worry about. It seems that it’s not only my cat that opens its mouth, and sometimes looks strange. Are you like me who dared decipher whether your cat is smiling at you? Or is it trying to send me a message that I need to understand?
Why does a cat open its mouth?
How many times have you seen your cat doing the flehmen response? Do you also find it funny or do you find it strange?
Our feline friends usually keep their mouths closed and breathe through their nose. When our cats are curious about a discovered scent, they opened its mouth to identify its aroma.
Usually, you’ll catch your feline friend with a pulled-back upper lip and a wrinkled nose. Making our cat’s face look funny. This reaction is the flehmen response.
What is Flehmen’s Response?
Flehmen is a German word that describes the curling of the upper lip.
Our cats use flehmen’s response when a certain smell arouses their curiosity. They also do it when they are trying to investigate their surroundings.
The Flehmen response may be usually observed in male cats. Male cats smell the pheromones left by a female cat in heat. A male cat’s flehmen response is attuned to sex-related information, even if it’s neutered. Otherwise, mother cats used flehmen to detect their kittens.
Another behavior associated with flehmen is when a cat is trying to distinguish food. When a cat is looking for catnip availability.
Flehmen’s response is not only found in cats. This behavior is also manifested by other animals such as snakes which have a good sense of smell.
Otherwise, it is believed that humans also have this response. Humans may not have the curling of the upper lip, but the sense of smell is improved. This is very common for pregnant women who have smell sensitivity.
What are pheromones?
Pheromones are a type of olfactory chemical or scent that is used by our feline to communicate. This chemical has different meanings and messages and our cats can understand it.
Pheromones have lots of different scents coming from different feline scent organs. It is secreted from the cheek, face, forehead, around the mouth, paw pad, and nipples of female cats. Their urine also contains pheromones.
Think of it, if we were a cat we got some sort of secret language through pheromones. How cute is that right? If you have pheromones, what message will you send to your favorite feline friend?
What behavior shows the secretion of pheromones?
There are a range of behaviors that send messages through pheromones. Some of these are:
1. When your cat rubs its head around the house or even to you.
2. Scratches or claws at some stuff.
3. Bump your head or with other cats.
4. Rub their body on surfaces and objects,
5. Marking territorial areas.
Does your cat have this behavior? Does it rub his face to you? Aw! That’s sweet, your cat is trying to tell you that this human is mine. Do you like that? That’s a very loving relationship.
Which organ is responsible for detecting pheromones?
When your cat uses its mouth to detect the smell, it doesn’t mean that it uses its mouth to know the smell. There’s a specific organ found inside your cat’s mouth.
This organ is Jacobson’s organ or vomeronasal organ (VNO).
Jacobson’s Organ is from the name of the Danish physician who discovered it in 1811, Ludvig Levin Jacobson.
It is said that we humans have this organ too, that’s why we also have flehmen response. Especially those pregnant women. Jacobson’s organ is also the reason why pregnant women are having morning sickness. Have you ever had the experience of having smell sensitivity?
How does Flehmen Response work?
In flehmen response, our cat smells the pheromones. As it is inhaled, the scent is transferred to Jacobson’s organ also known as the vomeronasal organ (VNO). This organ is located between the septum of the nose and the upper roof of the cat’s mouth. You may have seen this when your cat yawns, it’s the small bump in your cat’s papilla.
VNO is linked to the hypothalamus of our cat’s brain which identifies the signal of the smell. This allows our cat to respond to the message sent through the pheromones.
If you’re like me I have seen my cat with an open mouth and appear to look strange, then I have seen how he identified pheromones through its mouth.
There’s nothing to worry about if our cats will not get an overdose from these pheromones. Likewise, with a human, it will not affect us. They are only used to send a message and it won’t cause any health bad effects. These are odorless and will not cause any impact on you and your beloved feline.
Have you taken a picture of your cat with an open mouth? I would love to do that next time I catch mine doing it. Now we understand why our cats open their mouths. Sometimes, I’ll try to play with my cat about smelling things.
Generally, as cat owners and lovers, we don’t need to worry whenever our cat has its mouth open. It’s their way to identify the scent and message from their surroundings.