Dog ate chocolate?

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Do cats taste sweet?

Species: Cat
Breed: Mix
Age: 8-11 years
Dr. Marie,

This is really more of a general question than a question about my pet in general...I was reading about cats on Wikipedia and the article for cats states:

"An interesting example of a mutation that is shared among all felines, including the big cats, is a mutant chemosensor in their taste buds that prevents them from tasting sweetness, which may explain their indifference to fruits, berries, and other sugary foods."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat

I thought this made sense, since cats are carnivores and have no benefit to tasting sweetness, but a friend called BS, citing the common statement that cats are prone to drinking antifreeze because it tastes sweet.

So, I was wondering if you could help us with this question: Do cats in fact taste sweetness and if not, why are they attracted to ethylene glycol?

Thanks!
Andrew



Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

What a GREAT question!

I did some looking for you and found this article:

Do cats taste sweet?

The article shows that cats do not have sweet receptors and so they can't taste sweet.

I think it is a common misbelief that animals drink antifreeze because it is sweet. No one has actually proven that this is true. Many vets (myself inlcuded) believe that animals will drink antifreeze because they mistake it for water. Also, if an animal is out in the cold and all of the normal sources of water are frozen, then a puddle of antifreeze would look like a welcome source of water.

Some cats can ingest antifreeze if they walk through it and then groom themselves.

Thanks for a great question!

Dr. Marie.

---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

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