How cats use scent glands

Cats love to sniff and rub their faces on anything they own. We are often their targets. We think that they do it out of habit and sometimes love. But there is a reason behind this. Cats have scent glands in their faces and paws. They leave their scent on everything they like or own. It is a way of creating familiarity. Therefore, whenever a cat finds her scent, she feels safe and comforted.

Pets Uniq knows our love for our little fellows. This post is a way to know your feline fellows on a deeper level. After this post, you will realize the importance of stuff lying around your house that has your kitty’s scent.

Where are the scent glands located?

We usually think that cats have scent glands on their faces only, but the scent glands are located everywhere on their bodies. They like to leave their scent on the stuff they like. Scent glands are considered as information providers. They release pheromones. These pheromones are then used in several ways. Scent glands on different locations release different types of pheromones. Here are some of the body parts where the scent glands are located the most:

Face: They have scent glands on their cheeks, foreheads, and lips. These are considered as friendly glands because they are used to mark familiarity. These glands are used to recognize the things that cats find exciting and loving.

Paws pads: The scent glands on paws are used to leave a trace where ever they go. They are used for remembering and indicating the areas they have already visited.


Flanks: These are located on either side of the cat’s body. These are usually used to mark the places they love—for example, their beds or sleeping areas.

Back: They have glands on their tails. They have anal glands as well. These are located on the rectum and assign a specific smell to their poop. They make the poop a little smelly.


Here are some ways cats utilize their scent glands:

Marking territory

Cats mark their territory by spraying. But most of the household cats are not used to spraying. However, male cats sometimes spray around the house to make it feel like home. It also shows a little dominance in their character. Female cats, be it stray, be it a pet, avoid spraying. Therefore, using scent is the only way to mark their territory. They leave their scent on their beds, scratchpad, furniture, clothes, and even you. They rub their faces on stuff they adore. This act of affection indicates that they want to see it again. It also indicates that they recognize it when they see it next time. Hence, giving them a chance to own it.

Cat communication

Cats use their scents to communicate with one another. Whenever a cat sees a cat for the first time, she would sniff her. Cats use this technique to recognize their mates and children. This is a method to spot any danger around them. For example, they would recognize an animal from a dangerous breed by sniffing. It gives them ample time to decide their next move. Hence, whenever you are introducing your pets to one another, let them smell each other. Let them create comfortability and familiarity. This increases the bond between the two.

Displaced aggression

Excessive face rubbing is not healthy. It usually indicates that your cat is angry and frustrated. Since domestic cats aren’t prone to attacking you, they divert their feelings towards other actions. For example, anxious cats scratch more than other cats. Similarly, when a cat rubs her face obsessively, she is portraying anger. This anger is usually due to unmet needs or attention. Hence, carefully examine the events that took place before excessive rubbing. For example, try giving her a treat because she might be hungry or cuddle with her.   

Pick up scent

Cats use scent to recognize everything around them. For example, when they meet their owners for the first time, they will pick up their scent. They will instantly bond with you if they like your scent. The scent also eases their process of settling in. Therefore, it is recommended to let your cat sniff everything when you bring her home. She will use her scent glands to leave her scent on everything as well. This would help her pick up her scent from the items lying around your house. It is extremely important in multiple cat houses. Cats are possessive about their territories; therefore, numerous cat homes need proper territories for every cat.

Time capsule

Scents are like a time capsule for cats. Cats can communicate a lot due to scents only. Kittens survive in the wild due to this ability. Each scent gland has a specific scent associated with it. For example, it is used to sense if a cat has already visited that area or not. If the area is the territory of another cat or not. If the area has the scent of face scent glands, then the area is safe. Otherwise, the scent from paw glands might indicate something else. If the scent is fresh, then some other cat or predator must have visited the place recently. Hence, it warns the cat of any danger in the future as well. This is a survival kit for kittens and even adult cats. Stray kittens are prone to be killed without this ability.


It is highly effective to understand this ability of your cat. You can use it for your benefit while introducing it to other pets in the house. You can also help her to use her scratch post with this ability. If your cat seems to be spending a lot of time on a carpet or piece of cloth, then put it in her bed. She will start using her bed because of this. Thus, notice your kitty’s behavior and use it tactically. You can also use pet odor eliminators to remove your cat’s scent from the items you don’t want your cat to use.

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