If your cat smells you, when you pet it, this post will show you a number of possible reasons why and what you can do about it.
So, why does my cat smell me when I pet it? Likely reasons why your cat smells you when you pet it are that your hands have a strong smell on them, it is marking its scent, or that your hands have other people’s or animal’s scents on them.
Your cat might actually smell you, when you pet it, for a number of different reasons and it might be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main cause and there are some things you can do about it.
Reasons why your cat smells you when you pet it
Below are a number of possible reasons why your cat has been doing it and what would make them more likely.
Your hands have a strong smell on them
The reason why your cat smells your hands, when you pet it, is likely to be that it smells a strong smell on your hands. Since cats have a better sense of smell than we do, if you cannot smell anything, it could still be the case that your cat does. This would be more likely if your cat doesn’t sniff other parts of your body as much. It would also be more likely if your cat tends to sniff your hands more after you have been cooking or touching something smelly.
Your hands have other people’s and animals’s scents on them
It is likely that your hands have the scents of other people and animals on them. The reason why your cat smells your hands could be that it is picking up on the scent of other people and animals. This would be more likely if your cat does it more when you have just arrived home and after you have been interacting with other people and animals.
It is marking its own scent
Cats will, naturally, go around the house sniffing things and rubbing themselves against them. The reason why your cat has been sniffing your hands might also be that it is marking its scent on to you so that other animals are less likely to enter its territory. This would be more likely if your cat also rubs itself against you.
It is greeting you
Another possible cause is that your cat is greeting you. This would be more likely if it does it more when you have just arrived home or when you have not seen it for a while. It would also be more likely if it sniffs your hands before you have started petting it.
To find out about you
Cats have around 9-16 times better smelling abilities than humans do (source). Dogs have been shown to be able to smell disease in humans (source). While cats do not have the same smelling capabilities as dogs, some people argue that cats are also able to smell certain diseases, so a part of the reason why your cat sniffs you could be to find out how healthy you are.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main cause.
If your cat has always sniffed you when you pet it
If your cat has not always sniffed you, when you pet it, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it might be due to things such as if you started touching other animals a lot causing your cat to pick up on the scent or because you started using a different fragrance.
What else is different when your cat sniffs you when you pet it
If your cat does not always sniff you when you pet it, it would also help to consider what else is different when it sniffs you. For example, if it seems to sniff you more when you have just been cooking, it would be more likely that it is picking up on the smell.
What to do about your cat sniffing you when you pet it
Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior.
Let it do it
Cats will naturally sniff and rub themselves against their surroundings a lot. It is likely that your cat has been sniffing you, when you pet it, naturally. So, the easiest thing to do would be to just let it continue and to move it if it starts getting annoying.
Redirect its focus
Another option would be to redirect its focus towards something else such as toys or to move it somewhere else when it seems likely to start sniffing you.