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Do Cats Like Sugar?

Cats are unique as mammals in that they are genetically incapable of tasting sweetness. Unlike other mammals, cats lack the ability to produce the amino acids necessary to create the "sweet" taste awareness in the brain, making sweetness a foreign concept to them.

More facts about cats:

  • Though cats cannot taste sweetness, they do have the ability to taste adenosine triphosphate, a compound found in meat, which humans do not.

  • Some scientists speculate that the reason so many cats get diabetes is because they also lack the ability to metabolize sugar properly, and many cat foods are made of corn or other sweet grains.

  • The inability to taste sweet things applies to both big and small cats — from a lion to a house cat. However, even close relatives such as mongooses and hyenas can taste sweet things easily.
Discussion Comments
By anon996273 — On Aug 03, 2016

Have there been many replicated studies proving the "fact" that cats can't taste sugar? I ask because my cats seem to enjoy sugary foods. Obviously, I don't include sugar in their daily diet or allow them access to sweeties, but very rarely they're in a position to get a daub of frosting or a lick of ice cream (we're talking less than a spoonful split three ways, maybe once every few months). They absolutely love it. I always assumed they were interested in the milk and butter in the products and liked them in spite of the sweetness, not because of it. However, they've also expressed interest in maple syrup, corn syrup and sodas like cola and root beer. I actually let one have a lick of root beer because she was so insistent, I thought she'd find it yucky and go away, but she mewed for more and tried to stick her face in the cup (she didn't receive any more). Why would they want something mainly or exclusively sugary if they can't taste and enjoy the sugars?

By anon955125 — On Jun 05, 2014

My kitten just went ballistic over the smell of my belgian waffle. He kept climbing on me trying to get to my plate. Trying to get it away from him, I swung the plate around and some bits of waffle fell on the floor. He ate them voraciously and then tried climbing on me again to get more. I had to lock him away to eat my waffle in peace. The thing about Belgian waffles is they're basically butter and lots of sugar. If cats can't technically taste sweetness, what is it about sweet things that affects them?

By anon159196 — On Mar 10, 2011

I don't give my cats sweets, but I didn't know they couldn't taste anything sweet. Have to tell everyone I know that has cats. You learn something new every day.

By anon159010 — On Mar 09, 2011

My cat eats sugar. Just sugar. I came home one day to find her with her face the sugar bowl, licking everything up. How's that?

By anon158977 — On Mar 09, 2011

My cat likes cheese cake and ice cream.

By anon158954 — On Mar 09, 2011

I have a cat that loves chocolate, caramel, snowballs (chocolate cake covered in marshmallow and coconut). She only gets small amounts as I know chocolate is bad for pets, but she loves this stuff and always comes running when I eat it.

By anon158895 — On Mar 09, 2011

My cat loves to lick the juice from lightly sweetened canned peaches. She likes to lick cookies, cake, etc. Don't know if she can taste sweet or not but she does like these items.

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