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The Empty Nest Cure & Sniff Test

If you love cats, sharing makes us purrrr :-)

It’s that time of the year when kids go back to school, leaving some parents with an empty nest. Many of our friends have collage-aged kids (including us) and Odin has this suggestion.


We of course will never have an empty nest. Merlin and me like sleeping in the classic face buried in fur position. It may look cute or funny but I have an ulterior motive.


For the past sixteen years, I’ve slept with Merlin in my arms. During the night he changes positions, but I’ve always loved sleeping with my nose buried in fur. Just as mothers love the smell of their newborn babies, I love the way my cat smells. From under his chin, the temporal glands above the eyes, his ears, belly and back all smell good. The only part I don’t sniff is his butt, but I’m well aware if he has anal glands issues. Sniffing him offers us chance to bond by scent transference and allows me to gauge his health. Whenever he’s been ill, his scent changes, subtly at first but noticeably depending on the illness.

Research shows the cats and dogs can detect illness in humans and I believe it can be the other way around. Granted, I have a highly trained nose from teaching and practicing aromatherapy for twelve years but even an untrained human nose is capable of knowing when something doesn’t smell normal.

By regularly smelling our healthy cats, we can establish a baseline of what their individual normal scent is but stay alert when something smells funky.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.


  • Marg

    I don’t have a good nose for smelling so that probably wouldn’t work for me. But it sounds like a good idea. Most of mine would not like it if I got close enough to smell them. Although one, BB does sleep right next to my head.
    Good information. Take care.

  • Pam Kimmell

    I enjoy the nose touch/sniff thing with Sam and he really seems to enjoy those moments too. All the cats I’ve had have been very sensitive to knowing when I’ve been ill and I can just tell it has a lot to do with smell. I’m a multi-time cancer survivor and the caring bond my cats have shown through the entire process confirmed my long-held belief that they “just know” so very much because they are tuned in to us. I enjoy all the closeness Sam and I share – smell and touch being just two of the senses of love.

    Pam – Mom of Sam, One Spoiled Cat

  • Ingrid King

    I love the photo of you and Merlin sleeping together. Amber used to sleep in my arms every single night, and I missed that so much after she died. Recently, Allegra started sleeping in my arms every once in a while, and it feels so nice!

  • CATachresis

    I think Austin’s smell is the best medicine. I just love pressing my nose into his fur. Am not sure about picking up changes in health though? Not thought about that. I tend to notice changes in his behaviour as indications that things are not right. Will keep in mind.

  • Cheysuli

    My human says she has a terrible nose but she can tell by feel–and as an acupuncturist her training is in palpation and that “I just know sense”. She says our fur feels different under her fingers when something is wrong. She doesn’t like touching us because it feels “wrong” when we are sick. There are certain illnesses that respond this way to her, but interestingly when I almost died last year she didn’t notice anything (and we totally think it was an emotional reaction). So, yes, the Woman thinks you are totally smelling something when something is off (and in fact there are certain smells associated with certain energies and Worsley practitioners use that and it’s even taught to TCM practitioners but people think you are weird when you sniff them)

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