Why do domestic cats love corn on the cob?

Cat eats corn on the cob like a human
Cat eats corn on the cob like a human. Image from a YouTube video.
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I am not sure that all domestic cats like corn on the cob but judging by the number of questions asked on the Internet about cats eating corn on the cob and also judging by the video on this page of a cat eagerly gobbling up corn on the cob, it has its attractions but what are they? You’ll see different opinions. I think this is work in progress.

Smell and taste – fatty

It must be to do with smell and taste. Very much so for cats, taste is linked to smell. Domestic cats judge the acceptability of foods initially by its smell followed by a check on its taste. It is said that corn on the cob has a buttery smell and taste. Corn on the cob has a lot of flavour. The buttery taste may be one of the attractants to the domestic cat because they like fats and therefore they like butter.

Perhaps they confuse the buttery flavour of corn on the cob with butter itself. There is no doubt in my mind that domestic cats like corn on the cob primarily for its taste and not because they think is good for their health. Although there are some potential health benefits (see below).

Plants and roughage

Although, on that topic, domestic cats eat grass and plants and therefore they can occasionally dip into a vegan-type diet. Yes, they do this despite the world being told that they are obligate carnivores.

Cat likes corn on the cob
Cat likes corn on the cob. Image: Reddit.com

Domestic cats eat quite a lot of vegetation particularly if they are living off the land by catching prey. When a cat catches a mouse, they eat the entire mouse except for the gallbladder sometimes and in the stomach of the mouse there will be vegetation because mice are herbivores.

Roughage

The vegetation provides roughage which is good for digestion. Corn is rich in dietary fibre. It is non-toxic to cats. They might like it partly because of its fibre content.

When they bite into the corn they are also biting into the cob and corn cobs are a rich source of cellulose and hemicellulose and they contain significant amounts of lignin.

Cellulose-rich foods are a good source of roughage for humans. Roughage as you know is good for transmitting digested food through the gastrointestinal tract. It helps to keep the gut healthy.

My gut feeling (excuse the pun please) is that some cats like to eat corn on the cob because of its taste and the taste might replicate the taste of fatty foods and they may instinctively understand that it contains roughage. There is also the carb content which provides energy.

Unidentified beneficial nutrients

It may also contain nutrients which benefit the domestic cat’s health that we do not currently know about. For example, there is still a debate about why domestic cats eat grass. Some experts say that they eat grass because it contains folic acid which is good for the transportation of oxygen around the body through haemoglobin. Others say that grass is good for them because it is roughage. Others also say that grass helps to make them sick which vomits up hair balls.

The point that I’m making is that is that there are certain aspects of domestic cat behaviour that are still being worked through by humans. We don’t know all there is to know about domestic cats yet.

Cob

It may be significant that in all the photographs we see of domestic cat eating corn they always eat it off the cob. There may be something in the cob which smells attractive to domestic cats.

Manufactured cat food

Corn is included in some commercially prepared cat foods. For example, Iams openly state on the internet that they use corn ingredients in their cat foods. They use it in different forms such as ground corn, corn meal, corn grits et cetera. They state that corn grits and corn meal are used in their cat food as a high quality source of carbohydrates which as you might know is a source of energy. Corn has a lower glycaemic and insulin response compared to rice. This makes it better for senior and overweight cats.

AI intelligence says this

It is not common for domestic cats to show an interest in corn on the cob, and it is not a recommended food for them to consume as it can pose a choking hazard and is not nutritionally balanced for their needs. However, some cats may show interest in corn on the cob due to its texture or the scent it emits. Cats have a keen sense of smell and are attracted to strong scents, so they may be drawn to the aroma of the corn. Additionally, some cats enjoy chewing on things, and the texture of the corn on the cob may be appealing to them. It’s important to note that while some cats may enjoy nibbling on corn on the cob, it is not a safe or healthy food for them to consume and should not be given to them intentionally.

Do you have an idea why some domestic cats like corn on the cob?

Below are some pages on nutrients.

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