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Can Cats Smell Other Cats on You? Does This Make Them Jealous?

Written by: Brooke Billingsley

Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat smelling woman's chin

Can Cats Smell Other Cats on You? Does This Make Them Jealous?


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Last weekend, when you went to that house party, and your friend’s cat curled up in your lap, did your cat give you one sniff when you got home and then shun you for the rest of the night? Are cats actually able to smell other cats on your clothes or skin? Even if your cat can smell other cats on you, do they get jealous?

Here’s what you need to know about why your cat seems so interested in your clothes after you’ve interacted with another cat.

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Can Cats Smell Other Cats on You?

Your cat can absolutely smell other cats on you! Cats are highly territorial animals, and scent is a hugely important part of territory identification for cats. Your cat can smell any animal you’ve touched, or that has touched your clothing once you get home. They may or may not react beyond initial sniffs, but this will depend on your cat.

cat rubbing its head against the owner's legs
Image by: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

Do Cats Feel Jealous When You Smell Like Other Animals?

While most cats will sniff you and move on with their day or sniff you and shun you for a while, there are some cats that take things to the extreme. Some people have reported their cats attacking them when they come home with the scent of another animal on them, especially if that animal is another cat. Is this jealousy, though?

We have no way of knowing how our cats are feeling when they smell another cat on our clothes, but there are behaviors that some cats exhibit that indicate jealousy. This jealousy is most likely related to your cat’s inherent need to protect their own territory. There is also a potential for your cat to feel insecure or unsafe when you smell like another cat. In some cases, the scent may even confuse your cat into thinking that there is another cat in their territory.

Domestic cat lying on owner's lap
Image Credit: evrymmnt, Shutterstock

What Should I Do if I Smell Like Another Cat?

What you need to do when you come home smelling like another cat will be very dependent on how your cat responds to you smelling like other animals. If your cat is the type to attack you when they smell another animal on your clothes, then it might be best to change clothes in your garage. Some cats may also urinate or defecate on clothes that smell like another animal, in which case you might want to toss them straight into the washer instead of the dirty clothes pile.

For most cats, you shouldn’t have too many concerns about coming into the house smelling like another cat. The average housecat isn’t going to do much more than refuse to sit in your lap while you smell like another cat. If your cat is pretty laid back or seems to feel secure and safe in the home, even when you aren’t home, then coming home smelling like another cat isn’t likely to send your cat into a chaotic tailspin of emotions.

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Your cat is certainly capable of smelling other cats on you, but most cats won’t overreact to this. In fact, many cats won’t even react beyond sniffing you and walking away. If your cat is the type to overreact to you smelling like another animal or to another animal in their territory, then it may be best to take some precautions and change clothes before coming into your house smelling like you’ve been cuddling another kitty.

Featured Image Credit: Koldunov Alexey, Shutterstock

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