Official: Cats Don’t Have a Sweet Tooth

This week scientists at the University of Philadelphia reported findings of a study examining the sweet taste receptor in cats - with not unexpected findings.

Although sweet sugars are the norm in human foods, they are seldom added to cat food, and owners usually do not feed sweets to their cats. This is because, in contrast to most other mammals, both domestic cats and their wild cousins, the big cats, do not show a preference for and probably cannot detect sweet-tasting compounds.

Other than this sweet blindness, the cat’s sense of taste is normal. The molecular mechanism for this unique behavior towards sweets was not known, until now. Sweet compounds, including sugars and artificial sweeteners, are recognized by a special taste bud receptor composed of the products of two genes. Scientists found that in cats, one of these genes is not functional. Because the sweet receptor cannot be formed, the cat cannot taste sweet stimuli. This research provides a scientific explanation for the common observation that the cat lives in a different sensory world than the cat owner, especially when it comes to food!

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