The Flehmen Response & The Cheshire Cat

March 16, 2010 at 11:59 am Leave a comment

You know that grimace that your cat makes when she’s focusing on smelling something?  It’s like an exaggerated ‘Ewww’ expression.  It’s called the flehmen response, or flehmen reaction, from the German word apparently meaning ‘to curl the lip’.  According to Wikipedia:

“In reality, Cats, especially house-cats, exhibit a natural and very noticeable teeth baring grin due to a strong vomeronasal organ and the resultant flehmen response, all for merely enhancing their sense of smell of something interesting.”

What’s a vomeronasal organ?

“also called Jacobson’s organ, a vomeronasal organ is a chemoreceptor organ thought to have to do with the perception of certain scents and pheromones.”

It puts a slightly different spin on the Cheshire Cat.  Maybe he’s not smiling at all.  Or maybe that’s why he’s smiling.

The Cheshire Cat


Entry filed under: Cat behavior. Tags: , , , .

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