Why Do Cats Smell Your Breath? Read This…

cat smelling a woman's face

If you find yourself cooing at a purring bundle of fur or delicately stroking a sleek and shiny coat, beware: this kitty may be assessing your breath. The question as to why cats (and other animals) smell your breath is not fully understood, but we do know that there’s more going on than just a weird quirk.

It appears that the answer lies in the cat’s keen sense of smell and their need to assess whether you’re friend or foe (or food). They sniff out chemicals called ketones (which are released when we exhale) which can signal whether or not we’re well-fed.”

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Why Do Cats Smell Your Breath?

What do cats smell when they smell your breath? That’s the question you may find yourself asking after they’ve licked your face, in anticipation of a treat. Or it might be something you’re thinking about while petting a kitten and wondering why their nose is so darned purring.

The answer to that question is interesting: scientists don’t really know what cats smell when they sniff out your breath, but there sure is a lot of interest in the subject. A 2011 study in Current Biology found that cats do have at least 60 different types of scent receptors located throughout their nasal passages, lungs and skin. And scientists also know that cats have a keen sense of smell, similar to that of dogs.

But humans don’t seem to have a similarly sensitive nose; after all, we can’t smell “137 types of odor molecules.” We don’t necessarily need to. The fact is, the human sense of smell is pretty limited, but it can help us determine if something smells good or bad, or dangerous or benign.

Instead of smelling your breath when you’re talking with someone, a cat’s nose might be able to detect chemical changes in your breath that he can then use to gauge what kind of food you’ve eaten recently.

It’s not just your breath that cats smell, either. A 2011 study found that cats can smell the glucose in blood even when levels are too low for a human nose to detect. Cats can also smell chemicals in urine and feces that can tell them when you’ve eaten (or if you’re pregnant), as well as any changes in your stress level.

A cat’s gotta know where his next meal is coming from, after all! In the end, while scientists aren’t 100 percent sure of why cats smell your breath, there’s a pretty good chance that they’re doing it to get an idea of what you’ve been up to lately. Of course, they do it in their own subtle way – with one sniff and then a quick lick of your lips. No need to make it too obvious!

10 Reasons why cats smell your breath

cat kissing its owner

Cats have a very keen sense of smell, and many owners talk about their cats’ ability to sniff out even subtle changes in their breath. Whether you’re thinking about your future or whether you have a particular odor, cats can sniff out what you’ve been doing. Here are some of the potential explanations for why a cat smells your breath:

  1. Cats are assessing your trustworthiness.
    The presence of a cat around the place might mean that you’re friendly, or that you’re about to leave for a long period of time and need to get some supplies in place.
  2. Cats are looking for clues on whether or not you have eaten recently.
    Cats were once believed to be able to smell blood, and they may sniff around your bed at night, or mark out a territory by sampling the air outside. A cat’s sense of smell is so keen that they can actually detect changes in the breath to see if someone has eaten recently.
  3. Cats make use of their sense of smell when hunting.
    This explains why cats often move around a house before the owner gets home, to check whether there is any prey nearby. A cat’s nose is so sensitive that it can even detect prey scent from yards away!
  4. Cats are sniffing out danger.
    It is possible that cats sniff the air to make sure that the owner hasn’t got a weapon hidden in his pocket, or maybe not. Cats often hover around the door, even when they aren’t hungry, to check whether someone may be coming in.
  5. Cats sniff out changes in your body chemistry.
    Cats have some amazing abilities to sniff out other people’s moods, their bad breath, or even how much they have eaten. A cat might use its nose to sniff out the telltale scent of blood after a fight. A cat’s nose is so sensitive that it actually can detect the smell of a person’s breath!
  6. Cats are checking for any change in the scent of the inside of your mouth.
    Whether you’ve just eaten something yummy or not, cats often move around when you are getting ready for bed. They might be checking to see if there has been a change in your breath.
  7. Cats are sniffing out signs of illness.
    During the winter, many people who have a feline pet often notice that their felines seem to be checking out the atmosphere, sniffing around and moving around. This behavior may be related to their ability to detect illness by smelling your breath or their body’s air quality.
  8. Cats are curious about whether other cats will be at the house.
    A cat’s nose is critical for determining whether or not another cat is there; when they see another cat, it can mean that other cats are close by, or not controlled carefully enough. Cats often sniff around their territories to see if there are other cats around, and they tend to be suspicious of anyone entering their territory
  9. Cats can sniff out changes in the weather or season.
    Some cats will literally run themselves ragged checking out the environment around them constantly, trying to find prey or checking conditions before they step outside.
  10. Cats are checking to make sure food is being stored properly.
    A cat’s nose is so sensitive that it can detect slight changes in the smells in a household, especially when you are making sure that food is being properly stored and prepared.

The fact that they like you so much is really because they want to make sure you will be okay, which means that they would be happy to let you know if someone were not behaving themselves or if something was going wrong. This also means that cats don’t care about how bad your breath or your mood is.

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Why do cats smell your face?

Dogs don’t seem to show any similar interest in sniffing and smelling us, yet it seems to be a very common thing for cats. Cats don’t only smell your breath but they also smell your face. A cat might not seem too interested in your breath or other smells on your face, but they do like you and want to stay around so they protect you.

Cats are protective of the people they love, and want to make sure there is nothing out there that would hurt you or the rest of your family.

Cats may not actually care if someone has bad breath or if he hasn’t eaten in a while. However, their sense of smell is such that they are able to detect changes, even if slight and subtle, as soon as someone does something new.

When your cat smells something that he doesn’t like, such as a bad odor coming from you, he will let you know. A cat will let his owner know if someone is in the house that he doesn’t like so that the owner can ask him to leave, or if someone is hurting him.

Cats do have a heightened sense of smell and when they smell something new they will let you know. They want to know what the new person smells like, how long they have been there, and if they are feeling okay.

Cats don’t care about whether their owners are in good or bad moods or whether their breath smells pretty bad; all cats care about is making sure their owners are okay. This is why cats are always around, and will often check out their environment to see whether or not there is anyone who could hurt them or the ones they love.


Cats can smell and it is weird to know why your cats do smell your breath, though it may be surprising that cats can smell us with just their nose, this happens because of the incredible way that their noses work. Cats are able to detect scent, which smells very different than odor. As a result, cats can actually use their nose to pick up on changes in our breathing and body chemistry without even realizing they are being so successful at it.

Though cats may seem to be double checking you, they are really doing much more than just sniffing your breath—they’re checking out your body chemistry and making sure nothing is different because of some illness or change in your body’s makeup.

Cats have an incredible sense of smell and can detect changes in air quality, body chemistry, and changes in the scent on your breath that might mean another person is coming into the house. Cats typically stay close to their territory so they can protect their family and make sure everything is okay if there are any changes.

cat sniffing it owners face

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