Feline Wellness

Can Cats Taste Sweets?

February 14, 2023

Cats are curious creatures and if you’re eating something they likely want to have a little taste too. That could include some licks of ice cream or a couple bites of a doughnut. But cats cannot taste sweets, at least not the way humans can. 

Humans have about 9,000 taste buds while cats have about 500 taste buds. Cats also lack the protein to fully taste sweet flavors. Cats have only one of the two sweet taste receptors that other mammals have, meaning that cats can detect some sweetness at very high concentrations, but they are unable to fully experience it. So while your cat may enjoy sneaking a bite of your sundae, it won’t taste the same to them as it does to you and they are likely attracted to the fat content rather than the sweet flavor.

Cats seem to be able to taste sour, bitter, salty, and umami flavors, likely a result of their acute sense of smell. Cats are also particularly sensitive to bitter tastes, which might signify toxins and unsafe foods. (This is one reason why bitter and citrus sprays are usually effective in deterring cats from chewing on furniture or licking their wounds.)

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they are designed to eat meat. Cats need a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. Sweets are mostly carbs so cats likely lack the ability to taste sweetness since their bodies aren’t designed to digest them. Interestingly enough, cats are the only known mammal unable to taste sweetness. Their taste buds may have evolved to accommodate their dietary needs or vice versa. But if cats’ bodies cannot process carbohydrates, why do so many cat foods - especially kibble - contain high levels of carbohydrates like corn and grain? 

A carb heavy diet can lead to health problems like obesity, kidney and urinary issues, and diabetes.

If you want your cat to stay happy and healthy for as long as possible, please don’t feed them sweets! Feed them a high-protein diet with lots of wet food and meaty treats with proper nutritional value!

Love, Nala