Which animals other than the cat cannot taste sweetness?

A lot has been said about the inability of the cat to taste sweetness. According to Bing’s Co-Pilot it’s artificially intelligent bot, it’s because “unlike most mammals, cats lack 247 base pairs of the amino acids that make up the DNA of the Tas1r2 gene which is essential for sweet perception.” This was due to a genetic mutation which occurred in its long evolution which contributed to the cat becoming a strict carnivore.

Cats and wolves are strict carnivores
Cats and wolves are strict carnivores. Image: MikeB
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RELATED: The genetic reason why cats can’t taste sweetness

So, I was intrigued to find out whether the cat by which I mean domestic, stray, feral and wild cats, are the only animal in the animal kingdom who are unable to taste sweetness. It would be remarkable if they were.

I turned, in my laziness, to both Bing’s artificial intelligence bot and Google’s AI bot which is called Gemini. These are the masters of the information universe apparently but they are not. They make mistakes and this question confused them. They are also very ‘woke’ and politically correct – too much so to the point where they refuse to answer some pretty simple questions but that is another topic.

Google Gemini is quite adamant that cats are not the only animals with the inability to taste sweetness. This is their response:

The inability to taste sweetness isn’t exclusive to cats! Several other animals lack this ability, particularly those with diets focused on meat or protein rather than fruits and sugars. Here are some examples:

  • Carnivores: Many carnivores, like sea lions, fur seals, harbor seals, hyenas, and some mongoose species, have mutations in genes responsible for sweetness detection. Their evolutionary focus on meat meant the ability to taste sweetness wasn’t crucial for survival.

There’s ongoing research in this area, so more species with this limitation might be discovered!

Whereas Bing’s Copilot provided the following response:

Cats, including domestic cats and wild cat species like lions and tigers, are believed to be the only animals unable to taste sweetness.

I decided to follow up on that question and ask whether cats are the only mammals with the inability to taste sweetness and in response Gemini confirmed what they had said in response to the previous question and here it is:

No, cats aren’t the only mammals who can’t taste sweetness. Several carnivorous and meat-eating mammals share this trait. Here are some examples:

  • Sea lions, fur seals, harbor seals
  • Hyenas
  • Some mongoose species

These animals have mutations in genes that code for sweetness receptors, making them insensitive to the taste. This likely happened because a primarily meat-based diet didn’t require the ability to detect sweetness for survival.

And below is Bing’s response which as you can see is quite different.

Yes, cats are believed to be the only mammals that cannot taste sweetness. Unlike humans and many other animals, cats lack a vital protein necessary for sweet taste perception. Specifically, they are missing 247 base pairs of the amino acids that make up the DNA of the Tas1r2 gene, which is responsible for detecting sweetness. While cats may still taste something when they eat sweet foods, it won’t be the same experience as ours. Interestingly, cats can taste flavors like adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a compound providing energy for living cells, which we cannot. So, while they miss out on sweet treats, they have their own unique palate preferences!

Conclusion? I’m confused! I tend to favour the Google response because it would be improbable, I think, for one species of animal to be lacking in taste buds which are able to taste sweetness. It would seem unlikely that this genetic mutation affecting more than one animal because it is said that the reason why cats can’t taste sweetness is because they became a very refined carnivore relying on the flesh of animals to survive and in which case there was no need to taste sweetness.

There is a cart before the horse issue here. Did the genetic mutation lead to cats becoming meat eaters or did meat eating lead to the genetic mutation?

There are other animals that are strict carnivores. These include canids, a group which includes wolves, foxes coyotes and dingoes. In addition, there are mustelids which is a group of animals including ferrets, mink, otters, badgers and weasels. And then we have the pinnipeds which is a group of animals encompassing seals, sea lions, walruses. And we have the crocodilians which includes crocodiles, alligators and caimans.

1 thought on “Which animals other than the cat cannot taste sweetness?”

  1. I am addicted to sweet foods such as cakes and biscuits and of course cereal. I definitely do not suffer from this genetic mutation. 👍😹

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