Friday 30 June 2023

Domestic cat's vomeronasal organ acts like a gas chromatograph!

The domestic cat's vomeronasal organ is also called Jacobson's organ. It is in the roof of the mouth. It allows a domestic cat to detect in a very precise way the odours in the air and which enter the mouth when the cat breaths in. You can see that the cat is checking the odours in the air because their mouth is slightly open and the cat is static as if concentrating. This behavior is called the Flehmen Response.

Snow leopard Flehmen response. The cat has his/her mouth open. Photo is a still from the video below.

A recent study did some work on how the vomeronasal organ works and they likened it to the sophisticated human parallel coiled gas chromatograph! In the scientific world, the gas chromatograph is a sophisticated device which is used to separate and identify components in a volatile sample. It measures the various components in the sample.

RELATED: Snow Leopard’s Flehmen Response on Camera Trap Video.

In this study, a computer simulation of the interior of the domestic cat's nose complex consists of convoluted nasal structures to efficiently analyse the chemical make-up of substances.

They simulated the air and odour flow through a "virtual nose" on their computer. The vomeronasal organ contains complex channels making it a hundred times more efficient than a single straight tube which is what amphibians have.

They found that the air inhaled is separated into two streams. One stream of air is cleansed and humidified and the other is delivered to the vomeronasal organ. They decided that the cat's nose is as complex as the dog's. It is more complex than a rodent's.

The airflow which is driven into the olfactory region is then recirculated in parallel channels. Within these channels will be highly sensitive nerve endings designed to detect scent. They send a signal to the brain.

I have mentioned the domestic cat but, of course, all cats whether they are one of the wild species or stray and feral cats as well as domestic gas have the same vomeronasal organ.

I have a picture and video of a snow leopard using this highly sophisticated item of anatomy high on a mountainside which may interest you and which is above.

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