How well can cats taste in relationship to dogs?

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In terms of an ability to use their sense of taste, cats come in a dismal third in comparison to dogs and people. We have about 9,000 taste buds, whereas dogs have 1,700. This explains, in part, why dogs are often prone to weight problems. They actually like a lot more “human” food than cats do.

Cats have a limited taste palate because their tongues are such multi-purpose structures. Rather than being covered in taste buds, a cat’s tongue is covered in small hooked barbs that point backward. These structures are used in a variety of ways, from removing loose hair from their own coats to prey consumption.

A cat’s tongue is highly efficient at such tasks as removing feathers and fur, and stripping meat from bones, but it is not a tool or a gourmand. Cats can distinguish most flavors, although they have just a few taste buds for sweetness, but for the most part, taste is a matter of secondary concern for them.

A finicky cat is much more likely to be objecting to the texture or the smell of food rather than taste. He may not even like his bowl. Some cats are subject to “whisker stress.” Their whiskers are so sensitive that they dislike the feeling when these thick tactile hairs drag on the side of the bowl. One sign of this problem is when a cat will remove food from the bowl in favor of eating it on the floor.

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