Can Cats eat sweet foods?

Do not offer a cat treats, they are not good for him. But that’s not enough because cats don’t actually feel sweet. Didn’t you know?

Sweets and treats are of no interest to cats. Our feline friends only have eyes for one thing: meat (well, snuggles and naps too, but these are non-food activities). And let’s not just talk about how much his hunting instinct leads him to catch a prey whether it is a mouse or a bird, the reason for this disinterest is that cats do not have the ability to feel sweetness, unlike all other mammals. So let’s see how the taste of cats works, and why they will never enjoy the taste of sweets.

The taste buds

In the tongue of most mammals, there are flavor receptors: proteins on the cell surface that bind to a nearby substance, activating the cell’s internal receptors that send a signal to the brain. Humans have five types (possibly six) of taste buds: sour, bitter, salty, umami (or meaty) and sweet (and possibly fat as well). The sweetener is actually composed of two paired proteins, generated by two different genes, known as Tas1r2 and Tas1r3.

When functioning properly, the two genes form the paired protein, and when something sweet enters our mouth, this news is quickly sent to the brain, especially since sweetness is a sign of rich carbohydrates – an important source of nutrition for herbivores. and omnivores like humans. But cats are a noble carnivore, and unlike some less fussy carnivores (such as bears which are omnivores) and herbivores, felines only eat meat.

A choice of diet

Whether it is the result of a choice linked to their diet, or that it is a cause of it, all felines – lions , tigers, and house cats – have a lack of the amino acid pair 247, which is the basis of the Tas1r2 gene in DNA. The result is that it does not then create the right protein, preventing cats from feeling the sweetness.

But in reality, not being able to taste sweet is not bad, in fact cats should not eat sweets – like their proverbial animal colleagues, dogs – because they are harmful to their health. In fact, according to some scientists, cats’ teeth are already delicate enough so no candy makes things worse.

Sweets scholars

Scientists have discovered this peculiarity in the Tas1r2 gene (or pseudogene, given its inability to produce sweet-tasting proteins ) after decades of studies. highlighting that cats are indifferent to sweet foods.

Of course, as always there are exceptions: cats eat ice cream, cotton candy, marshmallows, albeit rarely. This may be due to an increased use of the Tas1r3 receptor, to taste the high sugar concentrations, even if it is not yet clear.

Even though cats don’t feel sweet, they can hear things we humans can’t taste, such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the compound that provides energy to every living cell. This element gives the signal that we are dealing with meat, even if it is present in small quantities.

Other animals have different types of receptors, for example chickens – who lack a sense of taste like cats – have the ability to smell amino acids in water at nanomolecular concentrations.

Proper nutrition

According to what scientists currently know, cats are the only mammals that don’t taste sweet. Other carnivorous mammals, such as hyenas or weasels, which are close relatives of cats, can feel, love and digest sugars. Unfortunately, most industrially produced pet food contains corn or wheat, which can give cats diabetes.

Industrial cat food has about 20% carbohydrates on average. But cats are not used to carbohydrates and cannot process them, so that the fact that they cannot taste them can be a problem for their health. Sure, the kitty might not try to steal our dessert, but we still need to keep an eye on their line.

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