New American Chemical Society video explains why cats lack a sweet tooth

March 04, 2013

Do cats purrr-ferrr sardines or sweets? The American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society, today released a new Bytesize Science video that explains why cats, unlike humans and other mammals, are indifferent to sweet flavors. Produced by the ACS Office of Public Affairs, it is available at www.BytesizeScience.com.

The video was filmed at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, an institute dedicated to research on taste and smell. Prior to becoming Monell's Director, Gary Beauchamp, Ph.D., studied the sweet taste receptor genes of cats in the late 1970s. At the Philadelphia Zoo, he gave lions, tigers, cheetahs and housecats two different types of water -- sugar water and regular water. The cats showed no preference to the sugar water, suggesting a physiological difference between other mammals, such as humans, monkeys and dogs.

The video explains how scientists from the Monell Chemical Senses Center later uncovered the cause behind the cat's missing sweet tooth. In place of a functional sweet taste receptor gene, they discovered that cats have a pseudogene, or a broken gene, that makes them unable to detect sweet tastes.
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For more entertaining, informative science videos and podcasts from the ACS Office of Public Affairs, view Prized Science, Spellbound, Science Elements and Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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