Did you know that cats have about 200 different types of receptors for tasting and smelling, compared to humans, who have around 523? Cats can taste bitter and sour flavors but are not as sensitive to spicy tastes.
As a result, cats rarely eat food with a high level of spices. Some research has even concluded that cats don’t like consuming spicy food because they lack the necessary receptors to taste it. However, this assumption is not strictly correct – there is more than meets the eye regarding how cats can taste spicy food. Let’s find out how your favorite feline friend perceives and consumes spicy food!
Cats and their sense of smell
Cats have a highly developed sense of smell, which helps them find food, stimulates their hunting instincts, and identifies other cats, friends, and foes. The olfactory receptor cells, which are responsible for detecting smells, are found in the nose, upper lip, and the roof of the mouth.
Unlike humans, cats don’t have a broad range of olfactory receptors. As a result, cats can’t differentiate between different fragrances and odors the same way humans do. Cats can detect very small amounts of pheromones from miles away. This explains why your cat always seems to find his way home – even if he’s been gone for a long time.
Most of us are familiar with the popular “cats are clean animals” adage. Cats groom themselves frequently, a reflex triggered by the scent of their pheromones.
Cats and their taste buds
Cats have around 639 taste buds, which is significantly less than the number of humans. However, each taste bud is far larger than human taste buds. Cats have taste buds on their tongue and the roof of their mouth. Cats have an extremely sensitive ability to detect minimal amounts of salt and sour flavors.
Cats can detect even a hint of sourness, which is why they don’t like consuming highly acidic foods. Cats also have a strong aversion to bitter flavors. This is because bitter flavors are associated with harmful or toxic substances. It’s a natural reflex for cats to reject bitter flavors, which is why they rarely consume bitter-tasting foods.
The capsaicin receptor
All mammals have TRPV1 receptors, which detect spicy foods. However, cats have another receptor called TRPC2, which they use to detect pheromones. These receptors are found in the mouth.
The presence of these two receptors explains why cats have a harder time tasting spicy food than humans because they are less sensitive. But that doesn’t mean cats can’t taste spicy food, they can taste mild and hot peppers, but being less susceptible to capsaicin, they need to consume more significant amounts of spicy foods than humans to feel the burn. So of all the flavors, cats can taste, spicy is the most difficult to detect. It is one of the last tastes that cats develop.
The Science Behind Why Cats Hate Hot Food
Cats hate hot food, and that’s why they don’t eat it. The main reason for this is the temperature of their mouths. Humans have mouths that are kept at a fairly constant temperature. This is because the tongue helps break up blood flow from the brain and distribute it evenly throughout the rest of the body. This keeps the body temperature under control.
Meanwhile, cats have much hotter mouths. Their mouths are between 10 and 30 times hotter than the human mouth. That means the blood in their mouthswill break down much faster. It is less likely to travel to the stomach, where it can be processed.
Why Are Cats Averse to Spicy Food?
Cats don’t like spicy food because of how it tastes. As we learned earlier, felines do not have the same taste buds as humans. Cats have an aversion to spicy foods because they irritate their stomachs and can cause digestive problems, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Also, too many spices can cause spasms in your stomach burning sensation, and lead to excessive shedding of the stomach lining. When cats vomit, they can accidentally inhale the vomit. This causes them to drown and can be deadly.
Cats have a shorter palate than humans, so they rarely eat spicy food as it is difficult to taste. Cats are more sensitive to salty and acidic flavors, but less sensitive to bitter and pungent flavors.
The main reason cats hate spicy food is because of a lack of genes that allow humans to taste certain peppers. That said, it’s important to stay away from overly spicy foods. They can have a negative effect on your cat’s system, causing damage to his stomach and intestines.