Are you a Cat Sniffer and Are You Willing To Admit it?

Michael Broad’s recent article, “What do cats smell like?” delighted me so much that it instantly inspired me to write my own article concerning a little secret for years about which I had been more than slightly reluctant to share openly.

Sir Hubble - Oriental SH - Photo by Jo.

Sir Hubble – Oriental SH – Photo by Jo.

It was only when, many years ago, that I ran across a question posed in an internet cat community asking “I like the smell of my cat; please tell me I’m not the only one”, that I was willing to reveal my clandestine “sniffing my cats” hobby.

Since the topic of “What cats smell like” has been raised, it feels that once again it’s time for me to go “public” and share my own experiences as an inveterate cat “sniffer”. I have got to say that if any passionate cat lover hasn’t yet taken the opportunity to sniff their kitty, they truly don’t know what they are missing. In my opinion it is one of the most delightful intimacies we can share with our feline friends. After all, they sniff us at any opportunity, so I think that turn-around is fair play.

Now you may think that sniffing cats is slightly bizarre. But once I started sniffing our two Oriental Shorthair kitties, Dr. Hush Puppy and Sir Hubble Pinkerton, I discovered them to have a slightly “nutty” scent. And to further reveal myself and be perfectly honest, their scent is quite different and unique from other cats I have sniffed over the years. Their scent was so inviting, I was fatally doomed to become a habituated “kitty sniffer.”

For years I hid this olfactory delight along with my sniffing addiction. But fortunately my shame abated one late evening when Sir Hubble seriously injured himself and needed a trip to the veterinary emergency clinic. While the veterinarian was treating him, we started talking about our cats.

Something about the veterinarian’s personality gave me the confidence to bite the bullet and freely admit to my cat-sniffing behavior and how I much I enjoyed their scent. For a brief moment I felt I had actually overstepped my bounds. However, she must have sensed my embarrassment, because she laughingly interjected that she preferred nibbling on her cats’ ears to sniffing their bodies.

Since I had never even given a thought to “chewing”, the next day, I sneakily and gently nibbled on Dr. Hush Puppy’s ears. I discovered that his ears were, in fact, rather tasty. Cat’s ears are very sweet. But I must warn readers that there is a definite down-side to ear chewing; they may become rather soggy if one overindulges. “Moderation in all things”, is my motto.

Years later I learned that cat’s ears are indeed tasty since Sir Hubble spends considerable time chewing on his brother’s ears. Incredibly, Dr. Hush Puppy seems to enjoy this extra “grooming” behavior and submits readily to his brother’s wishes.

It’s a good thing that I now know that I am not the only cat sniffer in the world. As I very slowly and prudently “copped” to sniffing kitties, I met many other people who gladly admitted that they too enjoy doing this. As a result, a regular Friday Night Cat Sniffer’s Chat was launched on AOL. The only requirement for attendance was for the member to create a “Sniffer” screen name. One of my favorites was “Sniffs Eight”.

For any “closet sniffers” reading this, please be brave and reveal yourselves. And if you haven’t tried sniffing, I highly encourage you to give it a try – and gently chew on their ears while you’re at it. Do share your aromatic adventures with us by leaving a comment.


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Are you a Cat Sniffer and Are You Willing To Admit it? — 24 Comments

  1. Thanks Jo for this interesting article. I wonder whether we will see a few closet cat sniffers coming out of the woodwork to confess their addiction!

    It probably comes down to more than just the pleasure of sniffing our cat. There is also the feel of the soft fur and the warmth of the body.

    Oriental Shorthair cats, as you know, have quite a fine close lying single coat and this means there is less of a barrier between one’s nose and the body beneath the fur!

    This may be why the Oriental Shorthair smells a bit different to other cats. The sniffer is getting more of the smell of the skin and less of the smell of the fur. And I will suggest that the coat of a cat smells different to the skin of a cat.

    It gets quite technical, doesn’t it?!

    If I inspired you to write your charming article, I have to confess that the little piece about nibbling the ears of a cat has inspired me to write about that subject.

  2. I am certainly a cat sniffer. Mostly cats just smell faintly of flowers and spring time. Sometimes they can be a little more smelly – infact I recognize the smell of each of my cats. Lilly was very stinky as a kitten and didn’t wash properly but now she does a good job and is very clean. I think their saliva kills bacteria so they always smell clean and fresh after a grooming session.

    • Your comment seems to indicate that the major component in the smell of cat is the constituents of the cat’s saliva. Or it may be that the saliva simply cleans away the dirt, which smells, and let’s the natural sweet odor of the cat come through.

      It is interesting, but unsurprising, that you can recognise the different smells of your cats. That is in line with the different fragrances given off by people.

  3. LOL Michael!

    I love how technically gifted you are to make these excellent observations!

    Cat sniffing also comes in really handy around the big holidays, because you can tell with one whiff if kitty has grabbed a bite of shrimp or turkey:)

    • I know, I am a bit technical but I do like to try and figure out what is going on and at least present an opinion about it even if it is wrong because I think that attitude may at least advance knowledge, or a further discussion on the subject.

  4. I have 6 cats and they all smell differently. my favorite cat Sara who I love so much almost smells as sweet as her personality

  5. My two rescues seem to have no scent at all?
    Is this unusual? They are my first kitties and I’ve had them about 6 years. I sniff everyone and my dog definitely has a scent which I love lol but although I bury my face in the kitties coat sometimes I really don’t smell anything 🙁

    • Hi Joanne. The scent is very faint and I wonder if your sense of smell is unable to pick it up. That is in no way a criticism. But all cats will have a scent of some sort. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  6. LOL….I am not a closet cat sniffer. I have been addicted since an early age. The smell of a cat’s fur after they have been out in their enclosure is wonderful!!!

    I especially love the smell of their fur when they come back into the house just as a rain storm begins. Oh that smell is heaven. Sometimes the cats smell like me. Lazarus used to love to cuddle with me and sometimes smelled like my perfume. When we have bum lambs the cats smell of milk and sweet hay. Oh and ears are nibbled here too. 🙂 Thanks for a great article Jo. Nibble my nephews for me please. Oh and give them a sniff too.

    • I agree that the smell of the outside combined with the body scent of a cat = a beautiful fragrance.

      There are a lot of cat sniffers. I have a feeling that almost all cat lovers are also cat sniffers to varying degrees.

  7. I admit it!
    I first started sniffing cats when we got into rescue. It’s amazing how many cats who were said to be strays smelled like Downy.

    My daughter sniffs the ears every day. She’s picked up on 3 ear infections and one case of gingivitis by doing that. I’ll even go so far to say Laura knows which cat is in the litter box from 10 feet away.

    • Elisa, I think Laura should write about her cat sniffing diagnoses. I think we can learn something from the smell of a cat and Laura certainly uses that facility to help to look after the cats. Perhaps it would be nice if she shared her experiences?

      • Jasper developed a really bad fungal infection. And she knew when Coral needed to go to the vet with her teeth. We were afraid it was something serious but Coral only needed a scaling. Since we’d starved her overnight the vet was able to put her under and do the procedure and we picked her up a few hours later.

      • I told Laura you wanted an article about the ear sniffing. She said she’s not a writer and that cat ears aren’t supposed to stink 🙂

  8. I’m a sniffer. I sniff not only my cats, but also other cats I’ve have the chance to meet. It’s like I’m getting to know them. I know how they look like, how they feel like, and how they smell like.
    I also can tell which of my two cats have been to the litter box.

    • You would be a cat sniffing expert, then! I would like to hear more about it. Can you tell us what you have learnt about your cats and other cats from your cat sniffing? Thanks a lot the sharing will stop

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