Cats and dogs: members of kingdom Animalia, popular domestic pets, subjects of common rain-based euphemisms. And though they share some similar traits (like fur!) they are decidedly different beasts when it comes to eating habits. Now, science claims to have figured out the particulars of this discrepancy. Because that's what science does, nowadays.
Freshly researched... um, research... has determined that kitties posses the ability to taste bitter flavors, normally reserved for vegetarian animals (cats are obligate carnivores, which means they swing both ways on the food chain, out of necessity). The bitter taste receptors have been part of vegetarian's evolution, as it helps the animals determine if a plant in question is poisonous, just as sweet taste receptors are present for animals to find energy-giving (and delicious) sugars within foods. However, geneticists have also determined that dogs' tongues are equally graced with the bitter buds -- so what's the difference between, them, really?
In an attempt to answer that very question, molecular biologists at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia ran a series of tests on feline taste buds and found their taste receptors responded to bitter compounds that would also bother human tongues, as well -- particularly chemical denatonium benzoate, a substance often used to dissuade little kids from biting their nails or sucking their thumbs. Additional research concluded that cats are even more sensitive to bitter compounds than humans are, and certainly more sensitive than dogs. So, even though dogs may have a similar number of bitter receptors in their mouths, they probably aren't as sensitive as a cat's -- meaning bitter foods to them may just taste bland and/or unexceptional, so they're able to gobble it down uneventfully.
There it is, in a long-winded, scientific type of way: cats are more sensitive to bitter tastes than dogs, apparently. Maybe this explains why they act so bitter towards their owners, whereas dogs are just big, dumb, sloppy, balls of fur and fun. I guess that's the bitter(sweet) symphony that is a cat's life.
h/t Gizmodo/The Conversation
Wil Fulton is a Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's bitter about lots of stuff, to be honest. Follow him @wilfulton
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