Myth or Fact? Cats Can’t Taste Sweetness.
Myth or Fact? Cats Can’t Taste Sweetness.
Apr 05, 2024 - Antelopepets

Can cats taste sweetness? If you have a cat that has shown interest in your desserts or sweet foods, you may be surprised to learn that they can’t actually taste sweetness like humans or other mammals! Instead, they are interested in that food for some other reason. 

The Research

Studies have shown that all mammals have 2 genes that are responsible for the ability to taste sweetness. Cats have both of those genes but, when compared to the sweetness-tasting genes of other animals, such as dogs, there were differences noted in one gene. This causes them to be unable to taste sweetness! 

Why are They Interested?

Just because cats can’t taste the sweetness doesn’t mean they want to avoid the taste of something sweet. They are neither attracted to nor avoidant of something just because it is sweet-tasting but the feeling, smell, or taste of another ingredient can still attract them. Next time your cat tries to steal some of your dessert, you’ll know they aren’t going after it as a sweet treat! Cats are obligate carnivores, after all. Obligate carnivores get most of their nutrients through consuming meat. So it isn’t so surprising that they aren’t interested in sweet tastes, as meat doesn’t have sugar in it. Another study found that cats are most drawn to the umami taste which is the savory taste found in meat. So while your cat may not be after your desserts, they may be after your steak!

A cat trying to steal someone’s ice cream is a great example of a cat going after a sweet treat but for different reasons. It’s possible that the cat really enjoys the cold sensation of the ice cream! In this situation you could offer your cat an alternative of frozen tuna cubes (or their favorite wet food smeared on a lick mat and frozen) as a more appropriate cold treat for them.