Mice exposed to cat odour changes behavioral reactions but not physiological responses

The predator and prey pairing of cat and mouse is probably the most famous one ever. We have cartoon characters developed based on this pairing and the pairing had also been enshrined in idioms. Now, scientists have come up with a surprising piece of information about this legendary fight.

According to scientists, the fight between cats and mice involve use of chemicals. During a recent study, they have come to know that chemicals present in cat urine make catching mice easier for the felines.

Cat Picture

Findings of the said study allowed the researchers to conclude that mice that get exposed to a chemical present in cat urine very early in their life are less likely to avoid smell of cats when they grow up. Scientists presented the findings of this fascinating study at the annual meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB).

Earlier, we heard a research team from Moscow’s AN Severtov Institute of Ecology & Evolution talk about a compound called felinine that triggers abortion in pregnant mice.

According to Dr Vera Voznessenskaya, one of the researchers involved in the new study, mice tend to offer a psychological response to felinine.

The new study has taken that previous findings about felinine a step forward by concluding that baby mice that get exposed to it during a crucial phase of their development would be reacting to the scent of their arch enemy quite differently as adults.

During the new study on the effects of felinine on mice, the researchers left one month old rodents exposed to felinine for more than two weeks. Tests conducted later showed that exposure to the cat-specific compound decreased the rodents’ chances of escaping the smell of the compound.


According to Dr. Voznessenskaya, mice actually have greater physical sensitivity to felinine. She added that the majority of the receptors of these rodents can successfully detect the compound, which results in production of high quantity of stress hormones in their body.

However, mice that once got exposed to the smell of cat urine are less likely to showcase signs of fright or flee after sniffing the unmistakable scent out. This automatically increases their chances of getting caught.