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What Does Cat Food Taste Like? Interesting Facts to Know

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on January 17, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team


What Does Cat Food Taste Like? Interesting Facts to Know

It isn’t accurate to describe the taste of cat food based on our human tongues. Cats lack many of the taste receptors humans have, and their heightened sense of smell affects flavor. You cannot taste very well during a cold due to your sense of smell becoming diminished. It’s the same when you compare humans to cats.

Cat food will taste very different to humans than it does to cats due to these differences.

Most types of cat food taste very bland to humans. However, once again, this is because our sense of smell diminishes the taste. Cats likely taste much more of the meaty flavor of the food due to their increased smell.

Wet food (and fresh cat food) tastes very different from dry cat food, of course. Most wet food is more flavorful to humans and cats alike due to the higher water content. The wetness of the food helps us taste it a bit better.

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Should You Taste Cat Food?

Licking a piece of cat food to find out what it tastes like isn’t a huge deal. It won’t harm you, though you probably won’t taste much, either. However, cat food isn’t safe for humans to eat a lot of. Cat food is fortified with vitamins and minerals that our cats need. We don’t necessarily need the same number of vitamins and minerals, though.

Therefore, if you consume cat food for an extended period, there is a chance that you will consume too many of the vitamins and minerals found in cat food. There usually isn’t an immediate risk of consuming food, but eating it for several weeks or months can prove to be an issue.

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What Exactly Does Cat Food Taste Like?

Most high-quality cat food contains quite a bit of meat, so we’d expect cat food to have a very meaty flavor. However, the exact processing of the food does matter. Wet foods tend to have a meatier flavor than dry foods due to their higher moisture content. It won’t taste like a juicy steak, but you will pick up on a concentrated meat flavor.

Specific flavors from cat food may be harder for humans to detect. Flavors are very subjective, even among individuals of a single species. Chicken-flavored food probably won’t taste like the food you’d imagine. How the food is processed, and the other ingredients involved will affect the flavor.

Remember, cats do not pick up on sweet flavors very much. Therefore, any sweet flavor we may detect in a cat food isn’t detectable by our cats.

Wet food tends to have many different textures, which can affect the taste. Some are made very smooth, while others have chunks of meat in a gravy-like substance. The exact texture can differ a lot, though. Generally, these wet foods are soft and moist, leading many to describe them as human baby food. It isn’t exactly appetizing to us, but it can be for many cats.

Image Credit: TarasBeletskiy, Shutterstock

Dry kibble tends to have a very crunchy flavor, and this texture doesn’t differ much from brand to brand. However, some kibble is softer than others. Some are far crumblier, while others are a bit more dehydrated.

Human foods tend to taste very different compared to similar cat foods. For instance, human-grade tuna often has a strong, fishy flavor. On the other hand, cat food based on tuna usually utilizes different parts of the fish and is often less pungent.

Salmon is another food that you may think would be similar between humans and cats. However, human-grade salmon is often much richer and often has other flavors added, such as smokiness. Cat food doesn’t add these extra flavors and tends to have extra fats added. It should create a palatable experience for your feline, but you may not like it as much.

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Why Do Cats Like Cat Food?

Cats often enjoy cat food, though some are pickier than others. However, there are a few reasons we often don’t like cat food while our felines do.

Unlike humans, cats are obligate carnivores. They were designed to consume a diet that’s almost completely made of meat. Therefore, they simply have different tastes than us. They’re designed to hone in on certain minerals and vitamins, which people who make cat food know.

Many companies also use flavor enhancers in their food, like animal digest and yeast extracts. Your cat often likes these, but our taste buds often don’t pick up on these flavors well. Therefore, our cats literally taste things that we cannot. Their smell helps this a lot, and there is no way we can replicate this. It’s impossible to know exactly what our cats taste. Simply put, smell is key.

Image By: Nils-Jacobi, Shutterstock

Texture also matters to many cats. Sometimes, it isn’t the taste of the food that makes a cat not like it—but the texture. Some cats like smooth, wet food, while others like the chunkier stuff. The flavor does change with texture. You’ll need to figure out what your cat likes.

Just like humans, cats also have individual preferences. Some cats may prefer certain flavorings and proteins. Some may be less picky and like just about everything. It’s important to consider your cat’s preferences when choosing a food. Some foods may be considered pretty tasty, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your cat will like them.

Final Thoughts

We cannot understand exactly what cat food tastes like to our cats. After all, they can taste things that we simply cannot, and we can taste things that they cannot. Our sense of taste just does not line up with theirs, making it impossible to figure out what they may be tasting when they consume cat food.

That said, cats do have individual preferences like us. Therefore, just because a cat likes one food doesn’t mean all cats like that food.

Furthermore, a cat’s sense of smell also plays a huge role in their tastes. One of the reasons our cats like meatier flavors is because of the smell that comes with them.


Featured Image Credit: Vladislav Pavlovich, Shutterstock

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