How many odor-sensitive cells are inside a cat’s nostrils?

When it comes to the power of the nose, cats are far better sniffers than humans, but pale in comparison to dogs. A cat’s nose contains 50 million to 80 million odor-sensing receptor cells. That’s impressive when compared to the 5 million people have, but it’s nothing compared to a dog’s nose that contains between 200 million to 300 million!

It’s important to remember that the senses any animal possesses are an adaption to their place in the world. Dogs are tracking animals, both in the wild when, as a pack, they may need to follow wounded prey, and in service to man, tracking missing persons and even criminals by their scent.

Cats, on the other hand, hunt small vermin like mice. They use a combination of senses to find their prey, from long-distance motion detection with their eyes, to accurate location assessment with their highly sensitive ears.

This is not to say smell isn’t important to a cat’s search for food, his recognition of territorial lines, and even his quest for a mate. However, the feline nose is part of a team effort of acutely evolved senses. And we poor humans? We’re just hopelessly ill-equipped. If you don’t believe it, ask the cat.

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