Why Does My Cat Make That Funny Face?

Have you ever observed your cat with his mouth partially open and upper lip pulled back in what appears to be a sneer or a look of disgust? Typically this will be accompanied by a look of intense concentration. This behavior is called the “Flehmen response” and can also be seen in other animals.

Your cat has something called a Jacobson’s organ, or vomeronasal organ, located in the roof of the mouth behind the front teeth. When your cat makes this strange face, it is because he has smelled something interesting and is drawing the scent into the Jacobson’s organ to get a better smell. The tongue traps the scent and transfers it to the vomeronasal organ in the roof of the mouth for better analysis.

Along with your cat’s highly-attuned sense of smell, the Jacobson’s organ provides additional sensory information and is especially attuned to detecting cat pheromones. So while it might look like your cat is disgusted when exhibiting the Flehmen response, your cat is actually enjoying a particularly interesting scent.

Have you ever seen your cat exhibiting the Flehmen response?

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There are 6 comments

  • Stressed says:

    My cat is in heat and has been urinating on the floor, she smelled her own pharamones and made this face. I was not impressed, I feel like I’m going to be scrubbing carpet for the next week until her spay appointment! I hope the spay puts a stop to this urinating issue we are having. I dont want to have to take her to the shelter, but I have 3 young children and cannot keep dealing with this.

  • Marsha Favorite says:

    My cat made this face when he was mad at me. I thought he was going to attack me.

  • Sek123@live.com says:

    My cat makes this face when he smells the odor from the outdoor cats on my feet. It scared me until I knew what it was. I assumed he really didn’t appreciate me spending time with the cats out there. Too funny.

  • Mechelle Brown says:

    My kitten Olla (7 months old) does that wee mad face when I’ve been at a friend who has dogs.! Then she goes all that puft up way stands there doing it for few second, then takes off going mental 4 a 5 minuet period. I’ve got to strip an go in for a shower before she’ll come anywhere near me. It’s only with this 1 person’s house.,! Yet I can go into other friends houses, with cats and dogs and she’s never bothered. Strange. Lol… I say let me see your funny wee face when she’s doing it. She just looks at u. Still doing it.. 🐆🐈

  • Melissa Hollings says:

    I bought a new large rug for my living room and my 3 year old, neutered make cat urinated on it. I’ve cleaned it but he continues to urinate in different spots and then later, sniffs the areas and leaves his mouth open. I wish there was a way to deter him from urinating on my rug.

  • Brianna Michele Whiting says:

    My cat has made this face after deeply sniffing my foot, like, nose almost between my toes. Didnt realize that was a thing he would enjoy XD

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