do cats know your scent

Even if you’ve been separated for a while, it’s likely that they will still recognise your smell and voice, although it’s difficult to say exactly how long they will remember you for. They will be more likely to recognise you if you are reunited in the context of their familiar home environment.

Does my cat recognize my face?

Whether or not cats can recognize our faces is unknown, but science seems to indicate that it’s unlikely.

Researchers from the University of Texas and Pennsylvania State University found in a 2005 study that cats can only tell their pet parent’s face from a stranger about half the time.

Although they are not very good at identifying faces, they can pick up on body language and gestures, which, along with your voice and scent, help them identify you.

How do cats recognize their owners?

The ability to recognize people is something that most of us take for granted. For humans, identifying who we know and who we don’t know in a room only requires a cursory glance.

It’s not quite the same for cats.

Felines use their senses of smell and sound among others to determine who they are in the presence of.

Let us explain:

  • Smell. Given that humans only have five million odor sensors in their noses, compared to cats’ 200 million, it makes sense that cats would use these most when trying to comprehend their surroundings. Regardless of aftershave or perfume, human skin carries a scent that only cats can identify, so as long as you’re within sniffing distance of your cat, they will know it’s you.
  • Sound. Cats have keen hearing in addition to their strong sense of smell. This indicates that, despite the fact that it might not always seem like it when you’re asking them to do something, they can distinguish between your voice and that of a stranger.

It’s also possible that the cats simply don’t feel comfortable interacting with a scented item for two minutes when they’re under stress. It’s also not surprising that the cat would rub against the human more when it was in the circle because the owner could interact with the animal, particularly if the human was permitted to pet or extend a hand to the cat during their two-minute return (although the paper’s methods do not make this clear).

Cats have an excellent sense of smell, not quite on par with that of dogs, but certainly one that greatly exceeds the sniffing abilities of humans. Cats use scent in ways that humans do not – for example, by rubbing their scent glands (found for example on their cheeks, forehead, sides, and paws) on objects and other individuals to send messages (“I was here”) and create social bonds (“we are close”). I’ve also reported on studies that show that mom cats can recognize the scent of their kittens, and kittens also recognize the scent of their mom, even months later.

The idea of the Secure Base Effect—that being with someone you are bonded to can lower stress and make you feel more at ease exploring new places—was the main focus of the study. Since its development in humans, this theory has been verified in other species and in relationships between different species. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether a human or an item that smelled like them would serve as a “secure base” for a cat that is alone in an unfamiliar area.

Based on these findings, the researchers deduced that: (1) the majority of cats found solace in knowing that their owners were abandoned in an unfamiliar location; and (2) the presence of the human-scented object did not provide the cats with much solace. In fact, some cats hardly ever rubbed on the scented object and instead appeared to have heightened stress responses during the two minutes they spent with it.

But based on this research, we can say that, generally speaking, cats find comfort in their owner’s presence, but they don’t seem to find much comfort, at least not in the short term, in something that smells like their owner.


Do cats like their owners scent?

However, from this research, we can conclude that overall, cats are comforted by their owner’s presence, but did not appear to get much reassurance from something that smells like their owner, at least during a brief stressful situation. Behnke, A. C., Vitale, K. R., & Udell, M. A. (2021).

Can my cat sense my smell?

A cat’s sense of smell is the primary way he identifies people and objects. Cats have more than 200 million odor sensors in their noses; humans have just 5 million. Their sense of smell is 14 times better than that of humans.

Can cats pick up their owners scent?

Cats have over 200 million olfactory scent receptors (humans have around 5 million) that are capable of picking up the chemical scents emitted by humans (pheromones and adrenaline). This is what catches their curiosity and why they are attracted to and want to engage with us humans :).

What are cats doing when they smell you?

Sniffing your face allows your cat to familiarize themselves with your scent so that they can recognize it, and you, in the future. Once they commit your scent to memory, they are better able to identify you going forward. Think of your cat sniffing your face as a way of saying hello.