Captain's Cabin

Pirate Lord of the Platinum Coast
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Myth Monday - The Finicky Feline

Lake Park Crest at the 38th St. Canal

And the animals came on the ark, two by two,
It was a couples only cruise, what else could they do?

Almost every human civilization has some version of the great flood story that wipe out everything on the earth except that which was saved on big boat.

But for domestic cat, it may not be so much of a story.

Genetics suggest that all domestic cat of every breed come from one of only five females that come out to grace the Egyptian Empire with their presence.

And it because of this small gene pool that it is believed that somewhere along the line, cats loose one of the two genes necessary to taste "sweetness". We can taste some sweetness, but not much. Additionally we are somewhat insensitive to salty taste as well.

Certainly of our five senses, taste is not our best one. Cats have relatively few taste buds compared to humans. Felines have only 473 taste buds, dogs have over 1,700 and human have a whopping 9,000. But that does not mean we do not find certain things more tasty than others.

There are certain foods we certainly crave; fish, poultry and dairy being chief amongst them. But what attracts us to these foods?

Our taste buds respond most strongly to Amino Acids, bitter, and sour tastes. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which we need a lot of in our diet. One of the most basic of the Amino acids, that of Taurine, is very necessary to our vision. It is not usually found in processed dog foods, and eating taurine-deficient dog food, long term, may result in retinal degeneration, loss of vision, and cardiac damage.

This why it important your human hunt good quality cat food for you to eat.

Also we do tend to modify our food preferences based on experience. The so called "monotony effect" reduces the perceived palatability of food that very recently formed a large portion of our diet, in favor of food with contrasting sensory characteristics. This is due to our the daily hunting pattern of our wild ancestors, and helps to compensate for incipient nutritional deficiencies.

(My human is careful to mix up the taste of the foods we eat, so I do not get bored with my meals.)

Food preferences in kittens during weaning are strongly influenced by those of their mother, but can change considerably during at least the first year of life.

Because of our relatively few taste buds, we can be somewhat finicky about what we eat. Most of our food evaluation is done by scent, using our vomeronasal cavity, which I talk about last week. It should be noted that we are very good at communicating with our humans which foods are acceptable to us. If you suddenly find your daily meals dis interesting, do not hesitate to let your human know, they will certainly go out of their way to find something more appealing to you.

Note: I should mention that loss of a few taste buds nothing when you consider our marvelous tongues, but I shall leave that discussion for different article.


Jan said...

We've always wondered why our cat will eat only the highest quality cat food. Thanks for the explanation.

Cherry City Kitties said...

I must be weird. I won't eat good cat food, it has to be "cheap" and I won't touch canned food or treats or meats. My brothers snarf up most everything. the Momma wants me to eat better, but the v-e-t says I am fine, so we'll just go with it.


Sparkle the Designer Cat said...

I am terribly picky, according to my human! I like to think of it as discerning.

Tillie and Georgia said...

Good post!!! Explains things quite well :) We kitties know what we like and need ;) Cats are smart!!
Purrs Tillie and Georgia,
Tiger,Treasure,JJ and Julie