If you’re anything like me, the holiday season puts my sweet tooth on full tilt. Any sweet thing that crosses my path is fair game. Maybe the holidays give me an excuse to indulge, and maybe the sugar does something to my brain, but my sweet tooth brings me pure joy.
Which makes me sad for my cats.
That’s right. Cats are possibly the only mammal that cannot taste sweets. Can you imagine going through life with ‘sweet blindness’?
Taste is a fascinating sensory function to begin with… Each tastebud contains receptor cells that convey flavor to the brain. Most mammals have 5 taste receptors: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, and Savory. Researchers have found that cats literally do not have the gene needed to detect a sweet flavor.
Sad as this may sound to me, this is valuable information for us to know about cats.
It’s a great clue to help us understand why cats are made the way they are. They evolved from desert animals and apex predators. Even our domestic kitties share 95.6% of the same DNA as tigers. These big and little cats are obligate carnivores and are made to eat meat. Not sweets.
A cat’s diet should be high moisture, high meat protein – even their treats should not be sweet. And while some people believe their cat actually likes sweets like ice cream, it’s actually the fat they find tasty.
It’s also worth noting that one of my favorite sweets – chocolate – can be lethal if ingested by a cat. Be sure to keep all chocolates out of reach of your kitties – especially during the holidays.