Sunday, August 19, 2012

The "Stink" Face!

Have you ever seen one of the IEAS felines making this face...

or this one...

Well, as funny as this face is (we call it the "stink face"), it actually has a purpose!

This is called the Flehmen response. Felines (and some other animals including horses) do this to draw an intriguing scent to their vomeronasal organ, called the Jacobson's organ. While it looks like they are being silly, this pressing back of their lips is a way for the cats to increase the potency of a particular smell. Essentially, they are smelling it more strongly and getting a better idea of what it is, whether it is the scent of another feline, the scent of prey, or just an unfamiliar smell! 

But don't worry! Even though you now know how important this behavior is, it's still okay to laugh! It is, after all, a very funny face! 

1 comment:

  1. My female housecat, Bobber, makes this face at times, and I try quick to eliminate what she's sensing before she sprays it! Also, I used to raise goats--and the bucks would make this same response sometimes to their own (awful!) smell, sometimes to that of a doe in heat.