Sunday 20 February 2011

Taste Cat Facts

The cat's sense of taste is far less refined than that of a person. Usually the cat's senses are more refined, however - see for example: Interesting Cat Facts (Senses). Interestingly the cat only has 473 taste buds compared to our 9,000.

Photo by Lalie (Flickr)

The taste buds (mushroom shaped papillae - "nipple-like structures"1) are located on the tip and sides of the tongue, while a set of "cup-shaped papillae" are situated at the back of the tongue.

Cats pick up these tastes:
  • sour
  • bitter
  • salty
But cannot taste sweet flavours. This is a throwback to the wildcat that feeds on meat almost exclusively. Dry cat food by the way contains carbohydrates because the manufacturing process demands it!

So a cat's sense of taste is relatively poor. This failing is made up by the presence of an acute sense of smell. My cats are definitely more motivated to eat cat food by its smell than taste. Cats check out food by smelling it. The signals from taste buds and nose are processed in the same part of the brain, apparently, showing their close association2. See also Smells That Cats Hate and The Cats Nose.


1. Wikipedia Authors

2. Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook current edition page 491.

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