Sniffer cats to replace dogs in airport security trial

Sniffer dogs are having to step aside for their feline counterparts at a Papua New Guinea airport and, if trials are successful, we could soon be seeing sniffer cats – rather than sniffer dogs – at airports all over the world.

Sniffer cat

It has long been known that cats have in the region of 200 million smell receptors (compared to just 5 million in humans) – more than most breeds of dog. But recent research at the Feline Olfactory Observation Laboratory in Port Moresby has also identified that a cat’s sense of smell can be up to four times more acute than that of a dog, thus making them more suited to unveiling contraband goods. Understandably, dogs are not impressed at this turn of events!

Sad dog

But it is exactly for this reason that from today sniffer cats will be given a trial at Papua New Guinea’s April River Airport (IATA code: APR). Until now, the problem has always been how to train a cat – a domestic animal renowned for ‘having a mind of its own’ – to do precisely what you want, but with advances in training, this has largely been overcome and now cats mean business.

Cat that means business

Commenting on this turn of events, Dr. Kitty Stroker, an expert in feline behaviour from the University of Papua New Guinea, said “Cats are notoriously independent but, with careful coaxing, they can be trained effectively. Unlike dogs, they do not respond well to praise, but can be motivated by the right kinds of treats and respond well to the use of training clickers that re-enforce good behaviour.”

Cat inspecting luggage

Meanwhile dogs are not too happy and will no doubt feel threatened should the trial prove to be a success. Which would you rather entrust with the task of sniffing out illegal goods at airport security… a dog or a cat?

Please cast your vote in the comments and make sure to tell us why!

Unhappy dog

Images: Shutterstock

Comments (7)

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  1. Casey Odell says:

    I can’t get my cats to do anything! Let alone sniff out bombs and drugs! Haha. Plus, and dont get me wrong I love my kitties, I think they are a little evil at times too. They may just let some things slip through just to watch the world burn.

  2. Maggie says:

    Interesting Post with Interesting News about replacing of sniffer dogs with cats….Look forward to hear more news about it…

  3. William Gould says:

    If this wasn’t April 1st I would say cats don’t take orders from anyone! Anyway mine used to sleep about 18 hours every day!

  4. Odin Hørthe Omdal says:

    Too bad about the date :(

    Would’ve been fun if it was real. Though click-training is real, and you can train cats somewhat more successfully these days :)

  5. Samantha says:

    I have to agree with Casey, lol. I have had many cats through the years and all they do is sleep, eat, and clean themselves. Oh yeah, they also like to jump up on the counters, lol. Enjoyed the post though and all the pictures. Sweet. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Andrew Petrie says:

    I’m sure this will prove successful especially for those airports suffering with rodent epidemics !

  7. Sadhbh says:

    Very interesting idea of using cats to sniff for drugs. I can’t imaging my cats doing anything like that. I love my cats but they are much better off snuggling with me.

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