Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cats Can't Taste Sugar

Kitty is showing her tongue, which does not have sweet
receptors.  
I learned today that the gene encoding the Sweetness receptor on the tongue is defective in cats. The gene is there, but the protein does not work. (More genetics here.)

Cats do have an ample number of umami receptors which would steer them to eat more meat, and obviously no sugary plants. Cats show no attraction or aversion to sweets -- completely oblivious.

Some people think that the 20% carbs that are in most catfoods is causing feline diabetes because cats lack the machinery to absorb sugars.

Tigers and cheetahs have exactly the same genetic defect as domestic cats. Chickens also lack a sweet gene. On the other hand, everyone knows dogs love sweets. Interestingly dogs cannot taste saccharine.