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Why Do Cats Smell Other Cats’ Butts? Vet-Reviewed Behavior & Communication Facts

Written by: Patricia Dickson

Last Updated on February 7, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Gray cat sniffing another cat butt

Why Do Cats Smell Other Cats’ Butts? Vet-Reviewed Behavior & Communication Facts


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

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

Learn more »

Cats are meticulous, extremely clean creatures that act elegant and sophisticated most of the time. That’s why it’s a bit surprising to cat owners to see their cat smelling another cat’s butt.

While this might seem like weird behavior, it’s entirely normal for your cat. In fact, butt-sniffing is instinctual and is how cats communicate. You’ll also notice your cats sniffing each other’s chest and neck to get to know one another. Even cats that have lived in the same house for years will sniff one another to see what’s new.

cat paw divider

Cats Have an Excellent Sense of Smell

Just like us, cats have five senses. However, unlike us, some of their senses are heightened. Cats have a sense of smell that far outweighs ours and is 14 times better.1

Cats also have an organ that humans don’t have; they have a Jacobson’s organ in their nasal cavity, which enhances their sense of smell. Unlike the cells in a cat’s nose that detect odors, the Jacobson’s organ can identify smells that humans cannot identify. For instance, a male cat can tell if a female is ready to breed by the pheromones she emits.

Also, newborn kittens can tell the difference between an ordinary cat and their mother by utilizing the Jacobson’s organ. So, it’s no wonder cats use their sense of smell for all sorts of things, including communicating with other cats.

Do Cats Communicate by Sniffing One Another’s Butts?

Tabby cat sniffing another tabby cat butt
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

When humans meet one another, they go about communicating in a variety of ways. They hug, shake hands, nod their heads, and have conversations with each other. Cats can’t replicate these greetings, but they have unique ways of communicating.

Usually, the first thing they do is a gentle head bump and sniff around the facial area. The pheromones released when doing this tell the cats much about one another. Information such as what kind of mood the cat is in and whether they’re aggressive, calm, ill, or healthy are revealed through those pheromones and determine how the cats react to one another in many instances.

So, why sniff each other’s butts? That concerns the anal glands, which secrete a substance only cats can smell. This odor is unique for every feline and shows cats if they’ve met before.

Cats are just as complicated as humans regarding their greetings and getting to know one another. Don’t expect your cats to sniff one another and automatically be friends. They may not get along or get along famously, just as we do in the human world.


Wrap Up

Cats are curious creatures, something you already know if you’ve ever owned one. However, sniffing another cat’s butt is a perfect way to get to know one another, and it’s not as weird as a cat parent might think.

So, the next time you see your cat sniffing another cat’s rear end, remember they aren’t being lewd, they’re just getting to know one another a little bit at a time, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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