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44–47 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Kitten

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A Guide to Your Kitten's Senses: Taste

Does your kitten taste what she smells? Do cats have a sweet tooth? Are cats naturally finicky eaters? And why do their tongues feel like sandpaper? Read on and find out:

  • Because your kitten has a vomeronasal organ—an additional smell receptor—in the roof of her mouth just behind her front teeth, her senses of smell and taste work very closely together, so in a sense your kitten can taste what she smells. This is also why cats with nasal congestion don't eat: their appetite is stimulated by the smell of food, and if they can't smell, they don't get hungry.

  • Although a cat's sense of taste is not as highly developed as a person's (cats have about 500 taste buds while people have 10,000), it's sensitive enough to tell the cat whether the food she's about to eat is fresh or rotten, safe or poisonous. The sense of taste also helps cats to decide how appetizing a food is, and it stimulates the production of saliva and gastric juices, which are an integral part of digestion.

  • Despite the fact that lots of us have seen cats enthusiastically lick ice cream bowls or chow down on donuts or remains of pastries, cats do not have a sweet tooth. They can only detect three different tastes: salty, bitter, and sour. Scientists believe the reason cats consume sweets is not because of the sugar but because of the fat content.

  • Cats aren't naturally finicky, although some are more adventurous than others. We've met cats that enjoyed eating vegetarian refried beans, melons, bread, and olives. Finicky cats are made, not born. To keep your kitten from becoming “addicted” to a certain flavor of food (tuna is the major food-addiction culprit in the cat world), be sure to feed her a variety of different flavors and types of foods.

  • Your kitten's sandpaper-y tongue is covered with small hook-shaped bumps called papillae. The papillae not only serve as home to the taste buds, they help your cat determine the texture of the food she's eating. They also help her groom herself because they act like a comb, pulling loose fur out of her coat.

Advice from Other Cat Owners 

What to Feed a Kitten

Some wet food is already formulated for all ages, but depending on what you plan on feeding for wet, the best thing to do is check on the label of the stuff you are feeding your kitten right now.

I know that EVO and Avoderm are all-ages for sure, whereas I am not sure about the others. Mostly, as with all canned food, you want to make sure it is a complete source of nutrition (for example, Merrick's wet is specifically marked as being a "supplement" food, not a complete source of nutrition), and it should be enough to keep a kitten healthy.

Kittens should be fed more often than adult cats, but around the six month mark you can start transitioning them to regular meals, though they might get a bit more food per feeding than the adults would. At seven months, the kitten you are planning on adopting can be put on a two meal schedule if that's what the others are currently on.

~Annalisa C., owner of Domestic Medium Hair

How to Keep Your Kitten from Eating Your Food

You will need to become super vigilant about picking up wrappers and throwing them away. If you put the trashcan in a cabinet, purchase those child safety locks and put it on the cabinet door. Rinse and wash all plates right after you're done. If you like to sit and chat around the dinner table, you'll have to do it without your dinner plates in front of you.

You can put him in the other room while you eat. If you truly want to break him of this habit, you'll need to make sure that no human food is left out anywhere in your apartment. You can also purchase "canned air" from an office supply store and when he jumps up to scarf food off your plates, give him a blast of the air (but not in the face). It takes vigilance and dedication on your part and that of anyone else who lives with you, but your cat can be trained to leave your food alone.

~Joy W., owner of Maine Coon mix

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