The taste buds of domestic cats (Felis catus) contain special sensory receptors to detect the umami taste.which added to two compounds present in tuna, could explain why these cats like this fish so much, according to recent research in the journal Chemical Senses.
Apart from the sweet, sour, bitter and salty flavors, there is a fifth called umami (also a sixth known as alkaline, but humans can no longer detect it). Umami is a deep, savory flavor present in various types of meat that appears to be a favorite of cats.
Cats are animals that base their diet mainly on meat, but it is not known why they prefer fish.. Cats evolved about 10,000 years ago in the Middle East, a desert region where fish was unlikely to be part of their diet.
There is a belief that these cats developed this taste over time. As early as 1500 BC, cats appeared eating fish in Ancient Egyptian art. And in the Middle Ages, cats in some Middle Eastern ports consumed large quantities of fish, including tuna, probably because they feasted on the leftovers left by fishermen.
Scott McGrane, lead author of the research, points out that these animals do not perceive sweet taste.because they lack a protein to taste it, which they probably lost through the evolution of the species, precisely “because there is no sugar in meat.” Cats also can’t identify bitter flavors very well..
Both humans and many other animals have Tas1r1 and Tas1r3two genes that encode proteins that bind to taste buds to form a receptor that can identify umami. After genetically sequencing a cat’s tongue, scientists discovered that the taste buds had the aforementioned genes present, confirming that felines can detect this flavor.
To ensure your results, McGrane and his colleagues conducted a taste test with 25 cats that involved placing two bowls of water; one with various combinations of amino acids and nucleotides, and the other with just water. The felines showed a marked preference for mixtures containing molecules that are present in foods rich in umami, suggesting that this flavor, above all, is their favorite.
However, cats didn’t just prefer umami. They also approached the containers that contained histidine and inosine monophosphatetwo compounds found at especially high levels in tuna: “It was one of the preferred combinations,” McGrane said.
“This is an important study that It will help us better understand the preferences of our well-known pets“, stated in a Science publication Yasuka Toda, a molecular biologist at Meiji University and a leader in the study of the evolution of umami flavor in mammals and birds.
The expert, who was not involved in the study, suggests that This work could help pet food companies develop healthier diets and more umami-tasting medications for cats.. Scientists welcome the idea of facilitating the ingestion of medications, which can sometimes be a complex (and somewhat dangerous) task.
Edited by Jose Urrejola
Source: La Opinion