Your cat walks up and sticks their face in yours. You close your eyes, and the cat smells them. It’s bizarre behavior, even for a cat. What are they doing? Do your eyes have some distinctive smell that attracts cats? Figuring out the mysteries of cat behavior is something I’ve always enjoyed. Fortunately, we live in a time when people all over the world can share their scientific and medical knowledge easily. I’ll help you decode the causes of this bizarre kitty conundrum.
Why do cats smell your eyes? Cats smell your eyes to check your face for scent glands. When your cat gives you a head bonk, they’re actually marking you with the unique pheromones from their face. Your cat assumes you should have the same feature, and they may be confused about why they can’t smell something they expect should be right there.
Cat Face Pheromones
When your cat takes a sudden interest in sniffing your eyes, it’s a sign of love. They may be checking to try and figure out where your face-pheromones are. Your eyes have a different scent from the rest of your head. Because of both the salt and the various tissues, your eyes smell interesting.
When a cat headbutts you, it’s known as bunting. Most often, cats do this to the things, animals, and people they care about most. Bunting is a form of social interaction and a way to share their unique scent.
Cats have pheromone glands all over their bodies, which is why they rub on things. In their heads, there are glands in the temples, chins, and ears. For your kitty, this is how you say ‘hello, or this is mine.’ They may be a little confused about why we can’t do this, or why they can’t smell your face better.
Share the Kitty Love
We can’t truly read a feline mind, but their behavior isn’t quite as mysterious as it seems to us. Humans have much less acute senses of smell than our pets. They don’t understand that we can’t smell the world the way they do.
Be patient, and never discourage your cat from showing affection. Unless they’re hurting you by licking, then let the kitty have their odd eye sniff time. After all, your pet is just telling you they care. Additionally, they’re getting very close to your teeth, so it’s a sign of trust. They know you won’t eat them.
You can also return their love by making sure your sweet kitty has a great place to play and nap like the Multi-Level Cat Tree Cat Condo from Topeakmart on Amazon. Cats don’t just behave differently than we do; they have different needs as well. Climbing, scratching, napping up high enough to survey their kingdom, and more are all kitty prerogatives. You can get an outstanding cat condo when you click here.
Cats Love Salt
Your cat may also be sniffing your eyes because they like salt. Your pets’ nose is much more sensitive than the human equivalent. Just like dogs, felines have the Jacobson’s Organ, which gives them the ability to create pictures in their brain based on smells. This unique feature, which we do not have, means kitty can ‘see’ your eyes with her nose.
Because cats are carnivores, they don’t need to have human-level taste receptors for sugar or carbohydrates, but kitties do enjoy salt. While your pet can taste the sweetness, their sugar receptors aren’t usually very active. Salt is an electrolyte that helps the brain process information (among other uses), and their noses pick up that smell easily.
I always suggest pet owners avoid feeding their cats food that’s high in filler content like wheat and corn since it doesn’t do your cat’s body any good. My favorite is ORIJEN High-Protein, Grain-Free Cat Food. It has the right balance of biologically appropriate chicken, turkey, fish, and cage-free eggs to help keep your feline friend healthy. Click here to check prices and availability.
Sodium Deficiency in Cats
Your eye obsessed cat might be trying to send a very different message, especially if they lick your eyes. Felines can become sodium deficient if their diet is imbalanced. It’s vital for mammals like our kitties to have the correct balance of sodium in their body.
Hyponatremia or salt deficiency can be a result of two different problems. First, your cat could be retaining more water than they should in the body, which leads to an imbalance. Second, they may have a solute loss, which is when bodies (cat or other) loses something dissolvable like salt at an abnormal rate.
Signs of Hyponatremia in Cats
If your eye-licking cat is trying to replace their salt, they need to visit a vet to determine the cause. Low salt levels can be hazardous to your pet. Keep an eye out for these symptoms.
- Dull Coat
- Nausea or Vomiting
Cat behavior may be strange, but some things are never ‘normal’ for any animal. People frequently believe, for example, that vomiting is ‘just something cats do,’ like when babies spit up. However, it’s not healthy or typical for your cat to barf. Always consult a vet if your kitty seems unwell.
Your Cat Can Smell Eye Problems
I know that the idea of your cat smelling a problem in your eye seems ridiculous at first glance. It’s not just the ‘how’ that’s baffling. Why would a kitty need to be able to smell a disease or infection in a human?
There are three important facts to consider here. First, it’s not about us. An animal with the exceptional ability to determine there’s something wrong by using their nose is something we see all the time. Cats have a much more acute sense of smell than we do.
Even our limited human noses can tell us when the meat has gone bad. Similarly, we know when an infected tooth stinks from calcium decay and puss. It may be gross, but it’s incredibly valuable to species survival.
Second, disease and illness are not chemically the same as being healthy. Changes to the chemistry affect the odor of tissues, blood, and other body parts. Your cat knows what you usually smell like, so they’d know if your eyes smell wrong.
Finally, the Jacobson’s Organ I mentioned earlier is incredible. This unique part of your cat’s (or dog’s) snout allows them to process far more information from their vast number of scent receptors. Moreover, they understand that information differently because of the way it translates into their head. Quite literally, smells are painting pictures in your cats’ brains in a manner similar to sight.
Cat Communication: This Smells Wrong
While it’s certainly true that cats are less invested in people-pleasing than dogs, a kitty who smells an eye issue may be trying to tell you about it. There are documented cases of cats sniffing out cancer and other problems.
While a dog has the most potent nose, with three hundred million scent receptors, and a human only has about six million, cats fall somewhere in the middle. The average house cat has around eighty million scent receptors in their head. It might not be enough to ‘see’ what a dog senses, but it’s more than sufficient to notice subtle chemical changes that we nose-blind humans would never pick up on.
Listen When Your Cat Sniffs Your Eyes
Your cat may not want to play fetch, or roll over for you, even though they can learn those tricks. However, it doesn’t mean they don’t care. It’s not the feline’s fault when you don’t get the message.
If your pet is licking (and not biting or salt deficient) or they try to draw your attention to your eyes in other ways, you might need to make a doctor’s appointment. Kitty might be pawing at those lashes because she knows something you don’t, but she lacks the words.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to worry about eye issues, cancer, or anything like that. However, even if your cat doesn’t save your life with their eye sniffing, you can show them you appreciate their efforts on your behalf. Grab your cat some healthy INABA Churu Lickable Cat Treats. You don’t need to speak the same language to show them you care about their health and happiness too. To find out more, click here.
Sniffing your eyes is kitty caring. Although cats don’t display their love or their talents the way dogs often do, it doesn’t change the fact that they care. Your kitty may think you were born without the ability to share your pheromones with your head. Alternatively, they might worry their sniffer is broken. If you were a feline, your head smell would identify you.
If you have an injury or infection in your eyes, your cat knows. They may even try to let you know by taking an extra interest in the area to bring your attention to it. Sniffing would inform another feline there’s something strange. Kitties can’t tell you that they know you’re hurt or sick, so they show you that they understand in the only way that makes sense to them.
Even if your cat is just enjoying the salty eyeball smell, take it for what it is when they sniff your eyes. It means they love and trust you.