Cats have always been known for their superior sense of smell and their ability to find things that are completely inaccessible to us. But only now have scientists uncovered the secret of their amazing abilities. It turns out that cats have a unique airflow system in their nasal cavity, which plays a key role in their sniffing.
The first detailed study of a cat’s nasal airways allowed scientists to uncover this amazing mechanism. The research team created a 3D computer model of cats’ noses and conducted simulated experiments during which they inhaled air with the smell of regular cat food. The results of the study were astounding.
How the cat nose works
The scientists found that the air inhaled by the cat is divided into two different streams. One stream cleanses and humidifies, while the other stream carries the odor directly and quickly to the olfactory area, which is responsible for the sense of smell. This means that the cat’s nose functions as a highly efficient dual-purpose gas chromatograph.
Comparison with a gas chromatograph
A gas chromatograph is a laboratory instrument used to detect and separate chemicals in vaporized form. Cat noses perform this function so effectively that they may be the inspiration for improvements to the gas chromatographs in use today.
The secret of the evolution of cat noses
Interestingly, alligator noses also mimic gas chromatography, but their structure is very different from the compact head of a cat. Scientists speculate that the cat’s smaller head led to an evolutionary change and the formation of a complex airway structure that fits tightly over their smaller heads. This allows cats to adapt to different environments.
Cai Zhao, senior author of the study and associate professor of otolaryngology at the Ohio State College of Medicine, shared his views on the importance of olfaction in mammals. He noted that the sense of smell helps them in tasks such as finding food, identifying threats and tracking environmental changes. He also pointed to the dog as an example of an animal that can understand what it has been through because of its sense of smell.
A study of the cat’s nasal airways has allowed scientists to uncover the mystery of their amazing abilities. A cat’s nose functions as a highly efficient dual-purpose gas chromatograph, which allows them to detect odors with incredible accuracy. This discovery could be the basis for the development of new methods of odor detection and analysis.