Smell And Taste Of A Cat

Smell And Taste Of A Cat
Smell And Taste Of A Cat

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Everyone who keeps a cat at home sooner or later begins to ask himself questions - why the behavior of his four-legged friend changes so much in different situations - at dusk and at night, near a working car and in the garden. There may be several reasons, but the main ones are the ability of cats to perceive surrounding landmarks, different from ours.

It must always be remembered that cats perceive the world around them differently than we do. They hear, see, smell differently and, therefore, orient themselves differently in the ecological space. Their behavior depends on this, sometimes incomprehensible to us. It's just that other landmarks are important for them. And human measurements are as inaccessible to them as to us - feline ones.

Although our friend has such expressive eyes and large movable ears, the main sense organ for the cat is not they, but the nose, which seems to be not so noticeable outwardly. This is due to the fact that the cat's world is the world of smells, aromas. A blind and deaf cat easily gets along among us and even in the forest can live a full life, but a cat that has lost its instinct can never. She simply cannot exist.

Yawning cat, photo photograph of cats pixabay
Yawning cat, photo photograph of cats pixabay

For a cat, the environment is filled with all kinds of scents.: here are the smells of her kittens, and her beloved owner, and family members, and her enemies, such as dogs. And, of course, kitchen aromas. Here the cat has its own grades. Things that we find unpleasant, such as the smells of fermented beef or chicken entrails - lungs and liver, or fish leftovers - attract a cat, especially if it is hungry. On the contrary, her own bowl, washed for shine with laundry soap, scares the cat away, as it retains the smells of detergents that we do not feel, and they have a sharp effect on her. The cat marks the paths and sidewalks along which only she moves with her smell, the territories forbidden for her, when she prefers not to enter, and, finally, areas that several cats can visit. Through smells, the male receives information about another male claiming his territory, or a female ready for estrus.The sense of smell gives cats a lot of information about the food that is being prepared in the kitchen, or about the prey that is still running or crawling and which must be caught.

Несмотря на внешне скромные размеры кошачьего носа, орган обоняния внутри головы занимает значительное пространство. Ноздри продолжаются в носовые ходы и полости, в задней части которых находятся клетки, воспринимающие запахи, в целом образующие обонятельную область носа. Располагающиеся здесь решетчатые «раковины» формируют сложный носовой лабиринт, сквозь который к воспринимающим клеткам поступает воздух, насыщенный запахами. Нюхающая кошка активно втягивает воздух, обеспечивая воспринимающим клеткам непосредственный контакт с молекулами пахучего вещества. Воспринимающие клетки являются как бы участком головного мозга, выпятившиеся на поверхность носа. Эти клетки непосредственно связаны с обонятельными центрами. Связь осуществляется через внутренние концы воспринимающих клеток, которые в виде волокон объединяются в тонкие нити и пронизывают отверстия решетчатой кости. Уже в мозговой полости они включаются в обонятельную луковицу, от которой в различные отделы головного мозга до коркового конце направляется толстый пучок - обонятельный тракт - «извилины морского коня». Обонятельные центры кошек содержат 67 миллионов клеток, на 1,5 миллиона больше, чем у человека. Часть обонятельной области носа обособляется в так называемый Якобсонов орган. Его иногда называют вомероназальным - по местоположению в основании пасти. Он состоит из двух симметрично расположенных трубок, продолжающихся на небе в стенсоновы каналы. С внешней средой этот орган соединяют небольшие отверстия, расположенные за передними зубами. При использовании Якобсонова органа кошка втягивает воздух в эти отверстия. При этом она останавливается как вкопанная, открывает пасть и втягивает губы, собирая кожу на голове в своеобразную гримасу (улыбку Флемена).

The functions of the Jacobsonian organ are still unclear. There are at least three main hypotheses. According to the first, this organ perceives the smell of food entering the oral cavity, as if supplementing the information about it received by the olfactory organ. Supporters of this hypothesis believe that the cat, therefore, has a mouth sense of smell.

In the second hypothesis, the cat analyzes the air currents of the atmosphere, reflecting minor changes in chemical composition, mainly in connection with major events - a volcanic eruption, an earthquake, the approach of a forest fire, etc. supporters of this hypothesis call this organ the sixth sense, which allows cats to predict catastrophic events that are especially important for it.

The third hypothesis assigns the Jacobsonian organ the role of an informant specialized in the perception of odors related to the genital area - pheromones. Of course, it is tempting to assume the role of the Jacobsonian organ in the perception of subtle odors that we do not perceive, but there are still insufficient grounds for this assumption.

Licking cat, photo photograph of cats pixabay
Licking cat, photo photograph of cats pixabay

The development of the sense of smell is comparable to the size of the olfactory organs. In animals called micromatics, it is less developed and their olfactory organs are small (primates, seals, whales).

But in rodents, ungulates, carnivores, the sense of smell reaches extreme acuity, and they are called macrosmatics. The dog finds game on a trail left several hours ago. The mouse searches for seeds covered with earth by smell, the badger - for the larvae of the May beetle under a layer of soil 10-15 cm. The sense of smell of a cat is weaker than that of a dog, but much more developed than that of a person. However, among cats there are specimens that are exceptional in terms of the development of their sense of smell (as well as among people whose profession is associated with the definition of smells - tasters of perfumes, wines, etc.). Smell is closely related to taste. In essence, they perform similar tasks, analyzing chemicals, either from a distance - by smell, or by direct contact - by taste. In cats, they complement each other, in any case, the cat tastes what, from her point of view, smells good.

Where are the cat's taste organs? If you look at a cat's tongue, you can see about 1,500 tiny nipple-like protrusions on its surface, inside which taste buds or taste buds are located. The bulbs resemble a flask with a small hole 0 gustatory pore opening on the surface of the tongue. Nerve fibers enter the inside of the bulb and end there freely. Each bulb consists of the outer - supporting cells and the inner - taste cells. Taste fibers from the bulbs are part of a single bundle of the medulla oblongata and end in the region of its terminal nucleus. From it, taste fibers are sent to the nuclei of the midbrain, and then to the large hemispheres, where they end in the vicinity of the olfactory centers, once again confirming the close connection between taste and smell.

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The substances that distinguish the organs of taste are grouped into four categories: sour, salty, bitter, and sweet.At the same time, different predators have a different ability to distinguish them. Cats, for example, recognize bitter well and much worse for sweet. However, since there are also smells, it is not always easy to determine how what is recognized. In any case, this must always be taken into account. For example, a cat that accidentally gets into a garage can get sucked on antifreeze, attracted by its smell and get irreversible kidney damage. The fact that antifreeze has a sweet taste is not so important for her, since she does not perceive sweetness well. Because it causes severe dental and gum disease, do not feed your cat sweets. Although the cat does not like sweets, under certain conditions she may develop a craving for it and it will be difficult to get rid of it.

Sometimes a cat's cravings for certain substances and plants cannot be explained. For example, catnip, popularly called catnip, contains nepetalactone, which attracts all felines, and from domestic cats - from half to two thirds. Cats sniff the plant, lick, chew. They then roll on the floor, rub against leaves, or stare at them motionlessly. The well-known valerian has a great influence on the behavior of cats. And although the mechanism of action of these substances is unknown, it is assumed that it is akin to narcotic. However, according to other assumptions, these substances contain some components of the pheromone effect.

Using odors that are unpleasant for cats, they have long tried to control their behavior, scaring away from places where they are undesirable.

The Roman philosopher Pliny describes how cats were scared away from dovecotes by planting a garden rue around. Many foul-smelling substances, such as citronella oil, are also good for scaring cats. If anything, this technique deserves attention, as it will help many cat lovers or their neighbors.

Source: Valentin Ilyichev, Doctor of Biological Sciences, "Friend" magazine (cats) 1997 - 6

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