Cats, those wonderful, furry bundles of love are likely the only creature that can drive us crazy at the same time. We know that cats have an appetite and that there are times they will hunt for their own dinner. However, is it even possible that they taste foods in the same ways we do? After all, they do have some keen senses.
Felines have the ability to see in the dark very well, they have a phenomenal sense of smell and hearing…I swear sometimes they can hear the can that holds their treats being moved rooms away and with doors closed.
We also know that cats are carnivores, which means they like their meat or similar food that smells like meat.
However, after thousands of years, we now learn that cats do not have the ability that humans have and even some other animals do.
Tongues and Receptors
The tongue of most mammals holds taste receptors. These receptors, similar to a human’s, are incomplete. For cats, that is cats of all sizes, they are missing 247 base pairs of the amino acids that make up the DNA of a Tas1r2 gene. This means that it does not code properly for the proper protein.
This also means that without this DNA gene, cats do not have the ability to taste sweet foods or candies. According to many Veterinarians, this is quite possibly a very good thing since cats do not have good teeth, to begin with.
This actually leads to much confusion, however. There are many cats who enjoy licking ice cream off the spoon their human is holding. There are even some cats that are known to enjoy Cotton Candy. Research is leading toward the idea that these cats are able to decipher some tastes by using the Tas1r3 receptor.
When it comes to mammals, cats are all alone when it comes to not being able to taste sweet foods. This may also mean that the cat lacks the components of the ability to enjoy and digest sugars in its liver. This component is Glucokinase. This is a key enzyme that controls the metabolism of carbohydrates and prevents glucose from flooding the animal.
Even aware of this issue for cats, Cat food manufacturers continue to use Corn or other grains in the foods they make specifically for cats. This could be the ultimate reason that many more cats are developing Diabetes.
On average, the amount of carbohydrates that a cat consumes is roughly 20%. The digestive system of the cat is not capable of dealing with that. These poor furry felines do not realize that what they cannot taste is slowly hurting them more and more.
Ultimately, research is saying that cats only have one of the two receptors that would be needed to have the ability to taste sweet flavours. However, it is believed that the cat may be able to taste sweet substances with only one receptor. These would be sweet substances that are sweet in a very highly concentrated way.
Bitter, not Sweet
Oddly, however, the cat can tell the difference when it comes to foods that are bitter. This is beneficial to the felines as it should help them to detect toxins in the environment and therefore stay away from them so they are not hurt by consuming them. Many toxins have that bitter taste to them.
Cat Sense of Taste
Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they must eat animal products to survive. Sugar or other sweet items do not fit in the category of other animals. This may all stem from evolution. Since cats do not need carbohydrates in their diets, there is no need for them to detect the sweetness of any food.
Despite so many other similarities in mammals, cats have far fewer taste buds than dogs do, and far fewer than a human does.
What do Cats Prefer?
In general, cats crave other animal meat. While you may find a cat attempting to taste your food once in a while, it is highly unlikely that it is because he or she enjoys sweets. The cat could be experiencing a craving for something and is attempting to determine what it is.
There are some cats who also seem to enjoy certain fruits once in a while, but at other times they choose to avoid them.
The problem today is that most cats are being fed dry cat food. These are for the most part mostly carbohydrates. Science has begun to recommend mixing dry food with moist food to enable the cat to get more protein into the diet.
If possible switch to all moist food, this would help give the cat more protein and fewer carbohydrates. In turn, this would mean less feline Diabetes.
Most people consider the sense of taste to be one of life’s amenities. In reality, it is just the opposite. Taste buds or receptors are those warning symbols that help us decide if we are going to put something into our systems or not.
For humans and most mammals, this means we decide by the taste of the food item. Cats do not necessarily have the ability to decide by taste as we do.
For the cat, it is more of a fundamental question. Will the food that goes into the system be good for them or will it be a danger to them.
This realization on the part of Science has led to the conclusion that the deletion of the DNA Tasr1 gene happened long, long ago and this is what forced cats to become the carnivores they are.
Sweetness is what we find on the opposite side of the bitter coin. Sweet taste has seemed to evolve as a way to detect planets that are high in calories and possibly vitamins also. Most species enjoy sweets because they believe it is something that is useful and healthy for the body.
From what we can see as humans, cats have always seemed to be picky eaters. When you compare this to say a dog, there is no real comparison. Place any food in front of a dog and that dog is going to at least put it in its mouth and taste it. Cats will not even venture that far.
Maybe, in reality, since the sugar and the sweet taste does nothing for the cat, it finds no interest in the item. This does not make it picky. It may make them somewhat smarter than a human to avoid all the sugary foods.
For the cat owners that swear their cat eats ice cream or cake, it is very unlikely that the cat is tasting the sweetness. It is likely tasting the fat and believes that is what it needs at the time.
Is Fat Good for your Cat?
This is a dilemma that is tough on cat owners. For our own diets, we know that fat is something we need to stay away from. However, many cat owners steer clear of cat foods that contain fat when it comes to feeding their furry feline.
In reality, and proven by science is the fact that some fat is vital and beneficial for your cat’s health.
The fat that is used in cat food is typically very digestible and is used by the cat as a source of energy. The fats that should be avoided when it comes to your cat are the essential fatty acids that the cat cannot synthesize on their own. These types of fats must be found in the food that you feed your cat.
These healthy fats are known to increase brain function and also help ease inflammation.
Believe it or not, even fat is a necessary part of nutrition for your feline. Fat is actually very important for your cat’s health and well-being.
There are a number of ways in which your cat will benefit from having goats in its diet. These include, but are not limited to:
- Fat is a concentrated energy source for cats. It actually provides twice the amount of energy that protein and carbohydrates do.
- Fat actually makes up a part of your cat’s cell membranes and helps to transport nutrients and other substances across the cell membranes,
- Fat plays a role in the speed of the nerve signal transmissions
- Fat produces metabolites, which help to control inflammation
- Fat contributes to the formation of some hormones, including estrogen, testosterone and progesterone
- Fat also provides a barrier against bacterial and viral infections
- Fat makes cat food much more palatable and helps the cat to feel full longer.
- Fat will enhance the absorption of fat-soluble Vitamins such as A, D, E, and K.
In most cat food, the manufacturer will use Animal fat as well as vegetable oil as one of the main sources of fat. Most cat foods have made the food with an appropriate and balanced amount of fats and nutrients.
It also must be remembered that not all fats are bad. The fats for the most part are the good sort that is meant to help the cat and the health of the cat. When you are reading the labels of cat food in the store, do not pass by just because it says fats. Your furry feline needs some of those fats to help maintain a healthy life.