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Why Do Cats Smell Good? 6 Reasons

So, you are all curled up with your feline friend after a long day. As you nuzzle into their fur, you might ask, “why do cats smell good?” For animals that don’t often require baths, they sure do an excellent job of staying clean and smelling good.

In fact, you might even find that cats of friends or family don’t have the same pleasant smell as your feline. That brings the question, “is it just me?” The short answer is no. You’re not going crazy. Cats do smell good.

Anybody with a cat can agree that your four-legged friend probably spends most of the day snoozing and grooming. After all, maintaining so much fur is undoubtedly a tiring task.

While your cat dreams in their favorite sleeping positions, let’s look at a few reasons why cats smell good.

Beautiful young woman cuddling a cat isolated on a white background.


Why Do Cats Smell Good?

There are many reasons why your cat smells good. Here are six things you should know about your cat’s scent.

1.    Cats Have A Personal Perfume

As a cat parent, I doubt you’ll be shocked to hear that cats spend up to half their day grooming. But, what you might not know is that cats don’t only groom themselves to keep clean. It also helps them regulate their body temperature and to nourish their fur with natural body oils.

As a cat’s tongue moves through its fur, the tongue’s texture acts as a fine comb, separating and organizing each strand. At the same time, the cat’s body oils are distributed through the fur. Interestingly, these oils also waterproof the coat and prevent dry skin.

These body oils have a scent unique to each cat. So, while grooming certainly contributes to your kitty’s cleanliness, their personal perfume is what keeps them particularly fresh.

Woman cuddling a ginger cat why do cats smell good

2.    Survival of The Freshest

Being clean and maintaining a personal scent are very important to animals. Even though your furball is likely a descendent of a long line of domesticated cats, some wild traits still lurk in their DNA.

So, you know that cats have a personal scent. But why is it so important to them? Wild cats often disguise their scent to camouflage themselves while on the hunt. At the same time, after hunting and feeding, cats will meticulously clean their coats to eliminate the smell of the prey, which may attract other predators.

Keeping clean and preserving their scent is a way to stay safe. That’s why you shouldn’t be too offended if you spot your cat quickly cleaning themselves after you pet them.

Young beautiful woman kissing cat with love at home.

3.    They Have Scent Secreting Glands

Most of these nine glands produce pleasant scents. To humans, they may smell warm and comforting or even fruity and sweet. That depends on how your cat feels and their relationship with you.

Most animals and even humans release pheromones. This is a fancy word for chemical messages that translate as smells. ( These smells are released from different parts of the body and can change depending on your kitty’s mood and stress level.

Those warm and almost nutty smells from your cat, especially after sleeping, result from feelings of affection and comfort. They come from around the cat’s head area, like behind those little ears.

white cat being kissed with paw on woman's hair

Because a cat’s head area is responsible for releasing affection and comfort pheromones, this is why cats nuzzle their heads on people they love and their favorite objects. Alternatively, they will mostly mark territory with pheromones from their rear end.

4.    Because You Love Them

Yes, you read that correctly. Your cat probably smells good because you love them. Love is also part of why other cats don’t smell as good as your kitty.

Just as animals and humans release pheromones as chemical messages of emotion, we also perceive them according to our feelings. Now, one can easily chalk it down to familiarity. But it goes a lot deeper than that.

The truth is, the better something smells to you, the more inclined you are to take care of it. There’s a whole scientific reason for why that happens, but to say it simply, nice smells mean good things, and each person understands ‘good things’ differently. That’s why we are attracted to specific people and cuddly critters.

Woman asleep with grey cat in arms.

This affection or attraction happens in humans between mothers and babies and even between romantic partners. Humans are naturally hardwired to care for something or someone. So, you likely chose your feline friend because they smelled good to you from day one.

5.    They Smell Like Home

Having a pet pretty much changes everything about your home and your environment. They add a little fluff to every household item, but at the same time, things in your house make them smell different too.

Whether they’ve rolled around in your lemon grass or pounced on your petunias, cats often carry the scents of their environment. Since it’s your environment, it also adds to how you perceive your cat’s scent.

At the same time, living in close quarters with your furball means your brain begins associating their smell with warmth, comfort, and affection from the moment you bring them home.

Woman with eyes closed curled up with sleepy cat on bed. cat statistics

6.    It’s All in The Paws

Does anyone smell… corn chips? Although few pet owners will admit it, I think we all secretly agree that kitty paws smell like a familiar snack. Maybe that’s how cats plan to take over the world, or perhaps it’s just another admirable cat quality.

The truth is that cats’ paws also secrete territory-marking pheromones. If you’ve ever caught your cats ‘kneading’ you or something soft (note, this cat behavior is also called ‘making biscuits’), they’re actually declaring ownership of that item or person.

The ‘kneading’ action stimulates glands in their paw pads, which, combined with the yeasty smell of bacteria, creates the familiar scent of corn chips.

Woman snuggles with Tabby cat.

Something to Note About Your Cat’s Smell

Animals often use chemical messages we perceive as odor to express feelings. Just as cats usually smell good, if your cat smells different or unpleasant for a day or two, it may be worth paying close attention to them or visiting the vet.

An unpleasant or different scent can be a sign of stress or illness. But don’t worry; they may have just rolled around the wrong flowerbed.

Woman carrying with both hands a Tabby cat near her face.

What Makes Cats Smell Good? – In Summary

There are many reasons why your cat smells so good. But, we should thank cats’ pheromones, natural body oils, and grooming habits.

The way cats smell is also a result of your perception. Your cat may smell better than other cats because your brain has associated your furball with affection, comfort, and the innate human desire to nurture.

Ultimately, we still love them and their corn chip paws, whether they smell good or a little funky.

Woman cuddling a Tabby cat.

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