Why Do Cats Breathe Your Breath? (Does My Breath Stink?)

cat smelling owners breath

5 days out of the week, I get woken up by my cat in a rather unusual way. He has this thing where he will really get in my face and start sniffing.

If having a damp noise and your cat’s warm breath on your lips and nostrils doesn’t wake you up, you can probably sleep through a tornado. My cat will spend a good minute just sniffing around my mouth and nose areas.

Why are some cats fascinated by their owner’s breath?

When your cat smells your breath, it is trying to decipher the strange odors that are present when you exhale. Our breaths contain a wide range of smells that consist of our pheromones, the food we eat and the smell of our own natural breath. Cats are to odors and will always make it a point to investigate a scent.

The human breath smells a lot more complex than the bag of Doritos that you just ate.

Let us take a deeper dive into the complexities of the human breath and why our cats are drawn to how our mouths smell like.

Why Is My Cat Obsessed With My Mouth?

Ask anyone to smell someone else’s breath and you will be called crazy.

The only breath that I will smell is to check my own if I have recently eaten anything that has garlic or onions in it.

As cat owners, we are often intrigued and perplexed by our cat’s behavior at times. But that is because we are not seeing things from our cat’s point of view.

Your Cat Is Led By Its Nose

cat's nose

Your cat has senses that supersede yours in so many ways. This help cats sense and detect prey and predator that are close by.

Your cat’s sense of hearing can hear sounds at frequencies and distances that you can only dream off.

Their eyes, though not their best sense, can see in very low light conditions which enables them to hunt in the dark.

We humans can trip over objects even in broad daylight.

Most cats rely on their sense of smell to gather information about what’s going on in their environment.

Their noses are the most important sense organ for our furry friends.

Your cat’s nose has up to 200 odor receptors vs 5 million in a human’s nose.

This makes their sense of smell 40 times more acute than ours. It can be hilarious when your cat makes s funny face after smelling your breath.

Not because your breath stinks (maybe it does), but because your cat is using its Jacobson organ to analyze your breath.

Imagine how torturous it would be if your cat smells your fart.

Unless your fart smells of tuna.

A cat’s nose is able to detect the nuances in an odor and they use their sense of smell when communicating with other cats.

Why Does My Breath Consist Of?

The reason why we breathe is simple.

To survive.

The only times we don’t breathe are when we are dead, holding our breath underwater or when someone farted in the elevator.

The process of breathing serves to remove waste gas in our bodies and replenish our oxygen levels.

As we have all learned in school, living things dispose of carbon dioxide when we exhale.

But scientists have found that exhaled air can contain up to 3,500 components, most of which are in microscopic amounts.

Imagine what a sensory smorgasbord that must be like for your cat!

Given that our noses aren’t as sensitive as our cats, we won’t be able to pick up the different odors in someone else’s breath.

But your cat’s highly tuned nose might be intrigued by some of the components in your breath.

Your Cat Likes The Smell Of Your Breath

cat smelling breath of little girl

Despite the aloof nature of cats, they actually do bond with their owners. Our cats don’t really see us as humans but as bigger cats and they look to us for comfort and security.

Cats bond through the power of smell.

Some Couples tend to like the smell of each other’s breath too.

Many cats like to rub their faces and bodies against things to mark their scent. You know that your cat has marked you as its personal property when it rubs itself against you.

They do this to leave their scent pheromones on you and to also collect yours on their bodies.

Pheromones are mostly secreted in our sweat but studies have shown that pheromones can also exist in our saliva and breath.

When a cat is breathing in its owner’s breath, it is also trying to take in more of the owner’s smell. This helps the cat feel more relaxed and secure.

Congratulations! You have some cat that actually likes the smell of your breath.

Your Breath Is Making Your Cat Hungry

They say you are what you eat.

There is another saying amongst cat owners that goes “Your cat is also interested in what you eat”.

Another reason why some cats enjoy smelling their human mouths is due to the residual odors from the owner’s previous meal.

If you ever want to whip up your cat’s appetite, you have to do it via your cat’s nose.

You would have probably seen or heard many funny stories about cats going bonkers when they smell human food on the plate.

It can have the same effect on cats when they are smelling their owner’s mouths.

There are a couple of food items that can pique your cat’s appetite when it catches the scent. This can be tuna, dairy products like butter and fatty foods.

Cats like tuna because it has quite a stink to it. I know of some people that feel like puking when they smell tuna.

But to a cat, the fishiness is like music to its nose.

Cats also like human food that has a high-fat content. Their noses are weird to sniff out fatty food to consume which allows them to stay satiated longer.

So if the above is your frequent favorite food, you can expect your cat to be a fan of your breath.

Your Breath Feels Warm

mouth with warm breath

Try putting your palm close to your mouth and slowly exhale. You will notice that your breath is warm.

When your breath leaves your mouth, it comes directly from your lungs which is at 98 F or 37 degrees celsius.

Cats operate at a higher natural body temperature than humans due to their higher metabolic rate.

A cat’s body temperature ranges between 100 F – 102.5 F.

This means that your cat needs more heat to stay warm which explains its preference for warm places around the house.

You might be thinking that your cat is interested in your breath but in reality, it is using your breath as a hot blow dryer to keep itself warm and toasty.

Your Cat Might Be Able To Sniff Out Sickness

First of all, please do not freak out after reading this section. This theory is still very much speculative without much scientific proof behind it.

Some researchers believe that animals with a very acute sense of smell like dogs and cats are able to smell chemical compounds that are released from malignant tumors in a person’s breath.

Cancer can cause the death of healthy cells in the body that smells similar to decaying animal tissue.

A cat or dog could be intrigued by such an odor that is coming from the owner’s mouth.

Do Cats Steal your Breathe While You Sleep?

Our innocent furry friends have been the target of many spectacular myths over the centuries.

One of which is that a cat is able to steal our breath while we sleep, especially babies,

It is said that the cat will climb into the baby’s crib at night and steal its breath.

There was even such an incident that was reported in 1791 but it was eventually proven to be false.

But the fear was enough to keep the urban legend going.

It is unfortunate that some babies can suffer from sudden infant death syndrome.

The cat might be resting near the infant or drawn to its breath due to the residual smell of baby milk.

The grieving parents will be looking for something to blame for the death of their child and the cat was there at the wrong time.

Black Cats Are The Devil

cute black cat

Another common superstition that was kept alive for many years was that black cats were the bringers of bad luck or the devil’s messenger.

Seeing one or worse, having one cross your path, would mean that bad luck would befall you in the near future.

Unfortunately, the myth might have been dispelled but black cats still have the lowest adoption rates in animal shelters.

Black cats deserve as much love as any other cat out there.

Do Cats Try To Suffocate You?

I’m sure my cat would if he had the opportunity to do so. I’ve irritated him far too many times while he was sleeping to get away scot-free.

Cats do not habor any hate or ill feelings to want and try to silence their owners while they sleep.

If you have a baby at home, it would be best to not let your cat sleep with your child unsupervised.

A cat can pose a suffocation risk to infants and babies if it sleeps on the kid’s chest or back.

Your cat isn’t trying to harm your child but the weight of a cat on a baby can’t obstruct its breathing.

Do Cats Like The Feeling Of You Breathing?

A cat that likes the feeling of your breathing is different from a cat that likes the smell of your breath.

When we breathe, it is at a constant rhythmic pace which can be comforting for your cat. Think of breathing as our human’s way of purring.

I’ve yet to meet a cat owner that does not enjoy hearing the sound of their cat’s purr which is soothing enough to put them to sleep.

Do Cats Sniff Your Face While You Sleep?

Mine definitely does and he does it rather vigorously like a mini vacuum cleaner going around my face from forehead to chin.

My guess is that as we sleep, our facial skin secretes oil that has an interesting scent to our cats.

The amount of drooling that takes place while I sleep must have also left odors all over my face.

If you washed your hair before bed, the scent of the shampoo will rub off on your face.

And if the shampoo contains ingredients that can entice your cat like mint, your cat will be sniffing your face while you sleep.


I’m sure cat owners all around the world would rather wake up to their cats sniffing their breaths than they having the cat’s butt in their faces.

It might not be the best experience to walk up to but hey, how many of us can say that we have a loved one that loves our morning breath?

Leave a Comment