Why do cats go crazy for tuna? Science answer

Why do cats go crazy for tuna?  Science answer

Why do cats love tuna? The answer is in the taste of umami

A recent study conducted by the Waltham Institute of Pet Grooming Science‌ in Great Britain, and published in the Journal of Chemical Senses, revealed that cats are particularly attracted to tuna due to the presence of umami taste receptors in their taste buds. These receptors are mainly stimulated by molecules found in high concentrations in meat and fish such as tuna. This discovery could pave the way for the development of more palatable foods and medicines for our feline friends.

Cats’ taste buds and the taste of umami

Science has long been interested in the gustatory abilities of cats. It was already known that domestic cats do not sense sweet and have few bitter receptors. It was also assumed that, as carnivores par excellence, they had the ability to perceive the typical “umami taste” of meat. In mammals, the umami receptor consists of two proteins encoded by the genes Tas1r1 and Tas1r3. Previous studies had shown that cats express the Tas1r3 gene, but it remains unclear whether they also possess the other major protein.

Discover the British team⁢

The research team led by Scott McGrain investigated by biopsying the tongue of a six-year-old male cat who had been euthanized for health reasons unrelated to the study.⁢ Genetic sequencing revealed that the cat’s taste buds expressed the Tas1r1 and Tas1r3 genes.

The corresponding proteins, compared to those in humans, showed mutations⁤ at sites where binding to the amino acids responsible for umami perception normally occurs.‌ Additional experiments on cells cultured in vitro showed that the cat receptor is activated first⁤ by binding to the “building blocks” ⁢ of DNA ‌(nucleotides) and then ⁤ its action is amplified by binding to “amino acids”, which is exactly the opposite of what happens in humans.

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Taste test

In the final phase of the study, the researchers gave 25 cats a taste test using two bowls, one containing ⁤water and the other containing different combinations of amino acids and nucleotides. The cats showed a clear preference for bowls containing molecules found in umami-rich foods. In particular, they showed greater affinity for vessels containing histidine and inosine monophosphate, compounds abundant in tuna.

This discovery could have important implications for the production of ⁤ food and medicine for cats, making them more attractive and therefore more readily accepted by our four-legged friends.

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