Do cats have sweet teeth? Science may have an answer

I swear I have a cat with a sweet tooth. Whenever I’m eating things like sugar cookies, donuts, or cake, Kali is all up in my face, trying to get my food off my plate, out of my hand, and she even sniffs at my mouth if I don’t let her have anything. If I drop a crumb? It’s like dropping a piece of steak or chicken – she is all over it like a vacuum cleaner. Cats are strict carnivores, so what is the deal here? Do cats have sweet teeth?

Science is actually working to answer the question, “Do cats have sweet teeth?”

Well, according to Scientific American, no. Cats literally have no way to taste sweetness at all, unlike most other mammals. They don’t have the taste receptors necessary to taste sweets, apparently:

“They don’t taste sweet the way we do,” says Joe Brand, biochemist and associate director at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. “They’re lucky. Cats really have bad teeth as it is.”

Okay, so what’s the deal with Kali, then? What is it that she tastes or smells in sweets that she absolutely must have?

Some scientists, like those quoted in Scientific American, argue that it’s not so much that cats have sweet teeth as it’s possible that they might be able to taste very high concentrations of sugar. If that’s true, then cats that are more sensitive to sweetness—even if they don’t taste it the way we do—will try and eat our amazing sweet treats.

Maybe it’s not the sweetness they’re after, though

Others arguing against the idea that cats have sweet teeth believe that it’s not the sweetness they want, but rather, they’re going after the fat. Indeed, things like cake, donuts, sugar cookies, and especially frosting, aren’t just high in sugar, they’re high in fat. Cats’ taste receptors are geared to taste fat, so there’s a chance that’s what they’re after.

So, do cats have sweet teeth? Science says no, but there’s so much anecdotal evidence that suggests otherwise that I’m not sure there’s a definitive answer here. And I wholly believe that Kali has a sweet tooth or three.

3 great products for removing cat urine and stains

Cat parents often have one major headache, and that’s cleaning up after their cat has urinated outside the box. Even when you catch your cat at it, and clean the spot immediately, you still often have a lingering odor. Worse, if your cat has used one spot, there’s a decent chance he uses other spots, too. Removing cat urine from all those spots is a daunting task.

It’s frustrating. Believe me, I know how frustrating removing cat urine is, especially from carpets. Cat parents often feel that the only option is to replace the soiled carpet and padding or piece of furniture. To add insult to injury, many carpet cleaning manufacturers have “pet” cleaners that are intended to get rid of pet stains and odors. Those rarely seem to work when the odor is cat urine, though. Fortunately, I’ve found a few cleaning products that work well for removing cat urine.

Ceva’s Urine Away is by far the best product I’ve found for removing cat urine

I didn’t know about Urine Away for a really long time. In 2012, we piled all four cats into my car and drove out to my father’s house because of a family emergency. I was out there for nearly seven weeks with them, then we piled them back into the car and drove back home. Before that trip, we hadn’t had much of a problem with our cats urinating outside the litter boxes. Afterward, though, we started having a massive problem with our two most high-strung cats.

I took them to the vet to rule out medical problems. The vet gave me the all-clear, so I tried everything I could think of to stop the behavior and clean it up and get rid of the smell. Nothing worked. After 8 long months, I went back to my vet and asked about fluoxetine. She agreed, and it’s helped a lot, but I still had a ton cleaning to do. I told her I had no idea how to really get rid of all that cat pee.

She told me about Urine Away, which destroys the molecules that cause the distinct odor of cat urine (and has a strong “soapy” odor).

Since the fluoxetine helped Chase and Gizmo stop their marking behavior, I was able to get ahead on their spots. After cleaning, I noticed that they didn’t stop to dig their noses into their spots anymore. They didn’t flinch from the scent, but they didn’t seem to smell the urine anymore. That has been par for the course for well more than a year now.

Urine Away is available on Amazon.com, at Wal-Mart, and elsewhere online in 8 oz and 16 oz bottles, and full gallon jugs.

1-2-3 Odor Free is also good at removing cat urine, but requires more effort

1-2-3 Odor Free is a cleaning system containing certain bacteria that break down the uric acid crystals that form in and underneath carpet and padding. It’s 100-percent harmless to people and cats.

However, because it’s a system and not a single product, you must use it exactly according to its directions for it to work. Fortunately, the manufacturer believes in educating its customers about how to get rid of pet stains and keep them gone, so they walk you through how to use 1-2-3 Odor Free on different materials and surfaces if you place your order over the phone. The system takes work and effort, but it does work very well.

Psssst, I have a secret: This system requires you to soak an area, and then place a damp terry cloth towel over it and leave it until either the towel is saturated or 24 hours have passed. The damp towel helps to wick out excess urine.

Nature’s Miracle works well for removing cat urine in many people’s houses

Nature’s Miracle Stain and Odor Remover uses an enzyme that works to destroy not only the urine and stain itself, but also the pheromones left that attract your cat back to the same spot. Nature’s Miracle has a whole line of products for both cats and dogs, and can be found at places like PetSmart and Petco.

If you see your cat urinate on the carpet or you find a fresh urine spot, blot it up as quickly as possible to minimize staining and odor. That will always make removing cat urine easier.

Avoid punishing your cat, however, as that may simply encourage him to do it more. This includes avoiding rubbing his face in his mess and swatting him, or roughly tossing him into the litter box. The last thing you want is to create a negative association with simply urinating when you’re trying to rid your house of existing stains and odors.

If you have something that works that I haven’t listed, please feel free to share it!

NEVER let anyone say this to you after your beloved cat dies

For many of us, our cats are part of our families. They’re more than just pets, they’re companions who nurse us through tough times with their cute antics, and their quiet understanding and sympathy (or they cheer us up with such an obvious lack of sympathy that it’s laughable). They give us things to giggle about, like they know they can entertain us and take advantage of that. They can act like little children, too, jumping up where they aren’t supposed to, only to jump back down and become all wide-eyed innocence when caught, like a small child insisting his hand was not in the cookie jar. But sadly, we’ll see when our cat dies, often before we do, and it’s devastating. But not everyone will have words of comfort or empathy when it happens, and that can be worse.

Recently, I’ve been comforting a friend whose beautiful feline friend died suddenly. He and his wife are grieving, their child cries over her loss, and for what? Who cares when a cat dies? She was just a cat, right?

WRONG. When a beloved cat dies, you lose a full member of your family

Our beloved feline companions are not just cats, whatever people who don’t understand may say. Your cat didn’t judge you for any mistake you ever made, when the people around you did. He didn’t offer advice that was both unhelpful and unwanted when your relationship fell apart. He knew when you wanted company the last time you had the flu, and when you just wanted to be left alone in your utter misery to try and get at least one moment of sleep. You knew his love was true and unconditional, even when it felt like nobody in the world loved you. He was, in many ways, your best friend, and so much more. So when your cat dies, it’s awful.

An article on the North Shore Animal League’s website tells the truth when it says that nobody is surprised to see us grieve over the death of a loved one, but many are when they see us grieving that same way when our cat dies. Non-pet owners often feel that a pet is just an animal, and that you’re making a huge deal over nothing (some who have pets of their own do this, too). These people might even question your mental health, which is just plain offensive.

Cats are fantastic at hiding when they’re sick

With our cats, a death can be especially devastating because we often have no idea that they’re even sick until it’s too late to do anything. Cats are very good at hiding illness until they’re too sick to keep putting in the effort. Alessandro Macaluso published a poignant article about her cat, Bear, and how he’d seemed just fine two days before his death. He had a large mass on his bowels, which killed him.

My friend’s cat may have felt perfectly fine before she passed, too, but she may also have been hiding something. She suffered from hyperthyroidism and had high blood pressure as a result. He doesn’t know exactly what happened – she appeared to have a seizure, for which they took her to the vet. Later in the day, she passed away in her sleep. Who knows whether she was feeling bad, or if the seizure came upon her as suddenly as it looked? Not knowing that your he’s even feeling bad makes it that much harder to process it when your cat dies.

Arin Greenwood talks about what it’s like when your cat dies unexpectedly. She, too, wonders what she could have missed when her cat, Derrick, died suddenly. The vet said it was likely a stroke or a heart attack, but she and her husband second-guessed themselves for a long time, wondering what they missed.

Some people are just plain insensitive

There are people who will ask you how you could possibly not know your cat was sick. The truth is, it’s not hard, and it doesn’t mean you were neglecting him in an way. Chase was once very sick, but he just seemed slightly out of sorts and I thought maybe he had a little bug. I felt silly taking him to the vet, but it turned out he was so sick he needed emergency surgery (fortunately he survived and is still with us). He’s a master at hiding when he’s not feeling well. Most other cats are, too.

Even when you know that his time is limited, it’s still devastating when your cat dies

But even if you knew your cat’s time was coming, it can still be very difficult when he actually does go. Yes, you knew, but that doesn’t make it easier. Those who don’t understand might say, “But you knew it was coming.” You might know it’s coming with a human family member, too, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

Macaluso and Greenwood were understandably devastated over the deaths of their beloved cats. And those who would say, “It’s just a cat,” to them, or to us, are those who just don’t get how painful it is when our cat dies. You don’t have to justify your grief—or your love—to them. He was your family, your companion, and your friend. And it’s perfectly okay to grieve, and to do so in your own time and your own way. He was not “just a cat.”

Choosing the right cat carrier for your cat’s needs

When you travel anywhere with your cat, even if it’s just to go to the vet, you need a carrier. But how do you determine the right cat carrier for her? Small or large? Hard-sided or soft-sided? How easy should it be to use? According to Catster, you should look at size, construction and ease of use when choosing a carrier.

The right cat carrier for your cat has specific size characteristics

Both Catster and PetMD say that your cat should be able to stand without crouching, and be able to turn around, inside the carrier. This kind of space is sufficient for short trips, like over to your folks’ place or to the vet.

However, for longer trips, the right carrier should be big enough for food and water, especially if she’s not going to leave it at all during the trip. In fact, most experts recommend that you do not let your cat out of her carrier while the car is moving for safety reasons. While she may not want to eat or drink while riding in the car, it’s crucial that food and water be available anyway.

A cardboard carrier isn’t the right cat carrier beyond bringing your cat home from adoption

You might have a cardboard carrier, which you used to bring your cat home when you adopted her. These carriers, according to Catster, are not meant for long-term use and will fall apart, so you should replace it with a more durable carrier as soon as you can.

Whether you choose a hard-sided cat carrier or a soft-sided one depends pretty much on you, and what you believe your cat will like. Both carriers come well ventilated on all sides, and both usually come in sizes big enough for most domestic cats. However, hard-sided carriers only open from the front, while soft-sided carriers tend to open from both the front and the top. Sometimes, being able to get your cat out from the top of the carrier works better.

Soft-sided carriers usually come with a removable bottom that’s washable, but it’s hard to clean all of it. You can simply wipe out or spray out the inside of a hard-sided carrier. This means that even if your cat is prone to car sickness and vomits inside her carrier, you can clean it up easily. These are other things you should consider when deciding on the right cat carrier for your cat.

How do you get your cat used to her carrier?

You don’t want to only use her carrier when you’re going to put her in the car, though, because she’ll develop a bad association with it. The ASCPA recommends taking steps to get her comfortable in her carrier, such as leaving it out all the time for her to explore. You could also put treats, or her food, inside the carrier, to help her develop a positive association. Approach her while she’s eating at the carrier, so she gets used to you being there without forcing her in.

Ultimately, the right cat carrier is one that’s got enough space for your cat, but that’s also appropriate for how you’re going to use it. The rest is up to you, and what you think your cat will enjoy.