Question: What foods/flavors do my cats prefer and why?
According to Scientific American, cats are (as of current research) the only mammals lacking sweet tastebuds. So why is their anecdotal evidence of cats eating ice cream and other sweets? Two possible reasons: the fat content, or high concentrations of sugar. Cats might be able to taste fat, or extremely high concentrations of sugar like those found in marshmallows and ice cream. A similar article in 2003, Your Cat’s sense of Taste, claims that cats can distinguish between 4 tastes (sour, salty, bitter and sweet), and that previously it was thought that cats couldn’t taste sweets, but they can. Hmm…I’m going to lean towards the more scientific, more recent article for now! Humans can definitely taste more flavors than a cat, we have around 10,000 tastebuds, and cats have a mere 500.
While they cannot taste sweets, they can taste things we can’t such as ATP (Bio folks will know what that is, if you aren’t a science geek, look it up…its too complicated to explain here). At least, this is according to the Scientific American article.
The inability for cats to taste sweets might also indicate the inability to digest sugars properly. Given that most cat food is composed of primarily grain, this could be a reason why so many cats have diabetes.
Cats have an extra sensory organ, located on the roof of their mouth, that is connected to their nasal passage, which cats use to smell & taste their food.
So, given these facts, why does Harree, and many other cats, love fruit-particularly melon? I’m going to continue doing research on this topic. Feel free to post comments on this topic, or links to other references.
Mind Communication: Senses- Taste; Cat’s Play; http://www.catsplay.com/thedailycat/2003-06-09/mind_communication/senses_taste/senses_taste.html
Strange but True: Cats Cannot Taste Sweets; Scientific American; 2007; http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=strange-but-true-cats-cannot-taste-sweets