How well can cats smell in relationship to people?

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In relationship to the human sense of smell, a cat’s nose is about 14 times more acute. The feline nose is one of an array of “sensors” that allow a cat to be on constant alert. Although we regard our pampered house pets as beloved couch potatoes, they are actually highly evolved predators. If you don’t believe it, turn a mouse loose in the living room.

Cats don’t just use their noses to sense prey, however, they also use their refined ability to detect and distinguish scents to keep the peace — or sometimes to start a fight. Male cats mark their territories with urine and by creating markers through facial rubbing and with the pads of their feet.

When a cat enters a new territory, he’s on the look-out to see if he’s in somebody else’s neighborhood. If he’s there searching out a female in heat, a fight will likely ensue. If he wants to avoid trouble, he will simply move on.

The sensitivity of the feline nose is also the source of one of Fluffy’s biggest gripes with us — our inefficiency as keepers of the litter box. Although we may think the litter box is “just fine,” our cats may well think it’s absolutely disgusting. More times than not, a cat will boycott his box and use a place we find inappropriate to do his “business” for no other reason than that we have fallen down on our housework.

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