Cats are notoriously picky eaters. They will wrinkle their whiskers in displeasure at most things you put in front of them, giving you a look of haughty disdain worthy of Sally Draper, and saunter off in search of a tiny box to squeeze into while still preserving their essential Beckettian sense of existential despair. For years we cat owners have just assumed that it’s because cats are the Kardashians of the animal kingdom, lording it over us mere mortals with an unearned sense of entitlment. But in fact it turns out there’s a scientific reason why feline tastes are so finicky. (Science has yet to explain the existence of the Kardashians.)
In part it’s because of how their taste buds work (they can’t taste sweetness, for example). AFB International, “the global science and technology leader in pet food palatability,” conducted research into how cats react to bitterness. Basically, they don’t really taste it, and because cat food is generally modeled on human food, using humans’ sense of taste to make cat food is redundant. The strongest reaction that the researchers noted was when the cats tasted denatonium, which is the bitterest taste known to humanity. How bitter? you ask. Pretty bloody bitter. More bitter than a disgruntled Firefly fan. This is all well and good, but it still doesn’t explain why my cat, Darcy, likes sauerkraut. And tomatoes. And chocolate.