Skip to main content

Scent Producing Structures of the Male Domestic Cat

This post is also about where cats prefer to be petted. The diagram shows where the scent producing structures are. It is good to know where a domestic cat's scent glands are because it affects our interaction with our cat. Cats like to deposit scent onto us when being petted. The scent is discharged by the skin glands.

In very general terms, but dependent upon the individual cat's preferences, the cat's head is the place to pet (stroke and caress).  As far as I'm concerned there are two reasons for this:
  1. For a cat it feels safer if he or she is being stroked and touched at a place which he can see it and respond to it, if it goes wrong and
  2. Secondly, there are five skin glands on the head of the domestic cat and these glands secrete pheromones which are deposited onto the recipient.  Often the recipient is an object like a door or a tree but it can be a person's hand or a person's leg and often it is another cat.  In this situation the cat is depositing scent onto the person and the scent on the person's skin is being deposited on the cat (scent exchange).  This makes things feel more friendly for the cat.  And what makes a cat feel as though he's in a more friendly place is something he will do and enjoy and therefore he will enjoy being stroked/caressed around the head.


The skin glands on the head are on the ear flaps (pinnae), under the chin, at the corner of the mouth, at the cheeks and either side of the forehead.

Snow leopard depositing scent with side
of face.
There are also scent glands at the hindquarters of a domestic cat but there are less of them and this is an area where the cat has less control as mentioned.  The skin glands are at the base of the tail and along the tail.

However, this is not a black-and-white situation because many cats like to be stroked down their body and indeed over their hindquarters. It is about what is generally accepted by cat.

There are, for example, skin glands in a cat's tail (caudal glands) but most cats don't like people fiddling with their tails.  Hind legs are almost a no-no area for a domestic cat.  There are no scent glands in a domestic cat's hind legs.

Most of us know about scent marking and how it helps a cat to control his home range in setting up boundaries and informing other cats that he was there a certain amount of time ago because as the odour of the deposited substance fades a cat who smells it can judge how long ago it was deposited.

The picture above-right of the snow leopard is a good example of a cat depositing scent from cheek and perioral glands onto a rock along a trail.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Cat Ear Mites

Brown gunge. Yes, I know this is a ferret! It does show the build up of dark brown to black ear wax caused by the presence of the cat ear mites in the outer ear canal. This parasite is not restricted to the domestic cat, which makes this photo valid and a useful illustration (I was unable to find a suitable photo of a cat with the condition). Photo Stacy Lynn Baum under a creative commons license. Ear mites (minute crab like creatures) are one of the causes of inflammation of the outer ear canal (scientific term for this inflammation is Otitis externa ). The outer ear canal is the tube that runs from outside to the ear drum (the pathway for the reception of sound), which can be seen when looking at the ear. Otitis externa affects humans and often swimmers as it is called "swimmer's ear" in humans. This YouTube video show ear mites under a microscope. They are not actually in the ear in this video. There are many possible causes of Otitis externa in c

Feline Mange

I'll write about three types of feline mange (a) feline scabies or head mange (b) demodectic mange and (c) sarcoptic mange. The source material is from Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook - the best on the market . Generalised feline mange? Puerto Rico - Photo by Gotham City Lost And Found Feline Scabies - head mange Head mange or feline scabies, is a fairly rare condition in cats, which is caused by the Notoedres mite (head mite) that only reproduces on cats. The female mites burrow a few millimeters (that is a lot) into the skin around the head, and neck to lay eggs, which hatch and lay their own eggs. Their presence and activities causes intense itching that in turn causes the cat to scratch. The scratching will obviously be noticed and it will cause the skin to become red, scratched and worse infected. Symptoms: hair loss and scabs, thick wrinkled skin and grey/yellow crusts form plus the symptoms of scratching. Feline mange (head mange) is contagious and tr

Cat Anatomy

Cat Anatomy - Photo by Curious Expeditions . The picture above was taken at Wax Anatomical Models at La Specola in Florence, Italy. The photograph is published under a creative commons license kindly granted by the photographer. I am sorry if it is a bit gruesome. It is pretty well all I could find as an illustration that was licensed for publication. Cat Anatomy is a very wide ranging subject. The anatomy of a cat is very similar to human anatomy. If you were writing a biology book for students of biology you would go through every part of the a cat's anatomy in some detail. It would be similar to writing a book about the human anatomy. It would be a thick book and pretty boring for your average internet surfer. So, how do you limit such a big subject and make this post meaningful? The answer I think lies in doing two things: Having a quick general look at cat anatomy - an overview and; Focusing on the areas of cat anatomy that are particular to the cat and of parti