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Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Six: Case File No. 45-305

black cat Gus sitting next to a bush on the stone path

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Where We Left Off:

We had another internal affairs investigation into Gus’ recent violence towards the birds.

The Smell of Fear:

The Sense of Smell plays an important role in a cat’s life and brings us this week’s case file investigation.

Smell can play a big role for certain humans too—and I am including myself. My own SuperSmeller can make some moments in life unbearable. I recall knowing precisely when certain women would enter the building at two different jobs I had. I begged for someone to say something. I would get headaches. It didn’t matter if the fragrances were lovely! They were bathed in the stuff. It was worse when I had family who smoked and I had to endure visits where they could not detect any cigarette smell at all, but I would get home and leave my winter coat outside on a porch for days. Let me tell you, it caused a rift the size of the San Andreas Fault when I requested people not to smoke around me on my wedding day. For godssakes—don’t get bitchy with a bride.

Psych tv show Gus leading Shawn: I smell something.

Sometimes, I can smell things that aren’t actually there. I used to call it halluci-smelling but learned the proper term is clairsentience unless you’re experiencing a medical crisis. I’ve been known to detect cigarette smoke, skunk, and baking when none of that is going on. I can debunk it sometimes if The Cook is burning one of her candles but they would not smell like cigarettes or skunk.

Bob's Burgers, Louise sniffing a tv show host: I smell fear on you.

For cats, that sense of smell is even more important. Their olfactory sense is significantly stronger than a human’s which makes me wonder about the physiological design of cats giving them the power to scent mark with such intensity that a mere human can smell it. Not all marking is this noticeable, fortunately for human companions. If we could smell every cheek graze from our cat companions, we probably wouldn’t have cat companions. We certainly wouldn’t let them rub on our faces.

When I was young, I learned that cats had a special ability to smell with their mouths. Perhaps it’s not scientifically defined as that, but they do have glands inside their mouths which trigger the Flehmen Response! It doesn’t mean that the cat is angry nor is it panting. They are taking in information through those glands and processing it in their brains. They get the same important information that dogs get by sticking their nose in your crotch.

Gus loves to stick his nose in Oliver’s butt. Ollie doesn’t enjoy this. But Oliver is not without his scent-loving behavior. Like many cats, he loves ear wax, dirty underwear, and shoes. Those items soaked in scent of his beloved humans makes him comfortable and feel safe.

Now, we have to wonder what creatures are among us that drive the cats to utilize their SuperSmellers. The white-tailed deer and the hybrid Jersey devil-deer leave scent behind with glands in each foot step. Likewise felines leave scent with their foot tracks too. Do the bears or foxes? I don’t know. That requires more research.

I think all of us can agree that cat spraying is the worst application of them using their scents in regards to sharing space with us. There are a couple of different types of bushes at the end of the stone path outside the hobbit door. Gus pays more attention to those bushes than others. Something is scented there and he gives each bush a lot of time for inspections. I didn’t worry so much about a free-roaming cat marking bushes as long as we, humans can’t detect it; and if it doesn’t cause aggression between Gus and Oliver.

I did get nervous when Gus began paying extra attention to the back door. As we revealed in a previous case file, one feline trespasses on our porch and patio. Its presence does cause Gus and Oliver to move from rational thinking to limbic survival. When Gus began smelling not only the firewood pile on the porch, but the door and threshold too, I immediately got worried.

We had to wait until it was dark enough to check for signs of spraying on the back door. I just wanted to be snuggled in bed! I checked in increments and the black light didn’t show up at all. Finally, it was dark enough. Gus was so excited the first time I tried to check the threshold with the black light that he bolted and got to be Naked Baby streaking the neighborhood. Good thing he didn’t go far and he ran back into the yard where he stopped and let me pick him up easily. I wasn’t going to chance that again in the dark when he’s truly invisible. I put on his harness and held his leash tight. He was pretty annoyed. He thought we were going out on patrol. We don’t usually take late walk until Bat Season.

You can see for yourself that we did not find any spraying marks on the hobbit door.

I took video of Gus investigating these key locations:

Case Findings:

The interloping cats have not sprayed their scent on the back door. However, that doesn’t mean they haven’t done so in other places like the bushes. It’s possible that Gus has been investigating two different things: cat spraying and rodents. We still hear scratching in the walls. In the video, there’s also a moment when Gus and I saw the leaves at the bottom step move up and down. It didn’t look like movement from the wind. There was nothing there.

Case Status: Open

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