Can Cats Taste Spicy?

Have you ever wondered whether your cat can taste the spice in food?

Well, in this article we are going to try our best to answer that very question. So, without further ado, let us begin.

Can Cats Taste Spicy Food?

The answer to this question is technically no. A cat cannot actually taste the spiciness in food.

They seem to be interested in spicy food more because of the meat that is often used as the main ingredient in spicy dishes.

That being said, the capsicum which is found in chilies and is what gives you that ‘burning sensation’ can certainly affect a cat.

The Capsicum Plant Family And Animals

So, what is capsicum? Well, this is the name that is given to the family of plants which produce spicy chilies. The plant is native to Mexico and Central America.

It has been widely cultivated since then for its use in cooking. Capsicum contains an oil called oleoresin which causes the burning feeling on your tongue when you eat it.

This oil also helps to protect the fruit from animals that will not disperse the seeds.

Birds, for example, have digestive systems that allow the chili seeds to pass through without any damage at all.

This means that when the bird evacuates its bowels the seeds can germinate.

If another animal, particularly us mammals, eats these chili seeds they will most likely be destroyed.

This is largely due to the fact that we have molars and grind up the majority of the seeds.

This use of evolution means that Capsicum plants will be more attractive to animals that will help them spread their seeds and use the spicy or burning sensation to discourage those that would destroy the seeds.

Capsicum belongs to the nightshade family along with tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers. There are two types of chili pepper: hot and sweet.

Hot chili peppers come in many sizes and shapes, but they are generally small and thin. On the other hand, sweet chili peppers tend to be large and thick.

Most people know about the red chili pepper as it is the one that is commonly eaten in the United States.

However, there are over 100 varieties of chili peppers available around the world. These include white, green, yellow, purple, orange, and black.

Some of the hottest chilies grow in Asia and Africa.

For example, the habanero grows in Cuba and Mexico and is considered to be one of the hottest chilies on earth.

Knowing all this, if a cat eats a spicy chili that will certainly feel a burning sensation that will be most unpleasant for them.

But, along with that painful burning sensation, your body will release endorphins which give you an almost pleasurable sensation to combat the uncomfortable burning.

So, if your cat were to eat food with spicy chilies you might notice that their eyes will begin to tear up and their nose may start to run.

Your cat very well may spit that food out which will mean that they no longer feel the effects of the hot food, other than the lingering sensation, but that will fade in time.

But, if your cat swallows the spicy food their stomach lining may become irritated. This can lead to your poor feline friend throwing up or experiencing diarrhea.

So, Why Does Your Cat Love Spicy Food?

There are not many mammals that actually enjoy eating spicy foods.

In fact, besides humans, the Chinese tree shrew is the only other mammal that shares our love for these spicy fruits.

So, why are cats attracted to spicy food even if they do not experience it in the same way we do?

Below we have listed four possible reasons why this could be the case:

  • Cats Love Warm Food – It is no secret that cats love warm food. Most dishes that use chili are served hot which might make it more appealing for cats. A cat’s love for warm food is rooted in their carnivorous nature. Cats hunt small animals like mice or birds which are warm when the kill is fresh. This is when your cat will be most likely to eat their kill. If you tie that in with the warm foods that chili is used in you can see why your cat might be attracted to spicy food.
  • Cats Have a Strong Sense of Smell – Cats have an amazing sense of smell. It is actually stronger than their sense of taste which is not that good. Cats actually use their sense of smell to ‘taste food’ and because of this, they may be attracted to spicy food because of the alluring aroma.
  • Cats Love the Meats that are Cooked with Spicy Foods – It is more than likely that your cat is more attracted to the meat than they are to the spice itself. In many spicy dishes meats like chicken, lamb and beef are used. All these meats are incredibly tasty and alluring for your cat.

Is It Safe To Give Your Cat Food That Is Spicy?

Other than your meals that include chili there are many foods that are spicy which your cat may find attractive.

Below are a few spicy foods that your cat might be attracted to and what it may mean for your feline friend.

Is Pepperoni Safe For Cats?

While pepperoni might look safe to give your cat, it is actually not recommended. This is due to the high salt content that cured meats like this have.

If your cat eats too much sodium they may get very ill and contract conditions like kidney disease which can be life-threatening.

On top of that, the way that these cured meats might mean that there are harmful bacteria in them.

This is because the meat is not cooked but rather air-dried and fermented.

Is Curry Safe For Cats?

Curry might seem safe for cats but the ingredients in it are often toxic for felines.

The main issue here is the turmeric as this is one of the most poisonous spices for cats.

If your cat ate curry without knowing it they might develop liver problems and die from it.

Additionally, the curry powder contains canthaxanthin which is also a toxin for felines.

To help avoid any issues with your kitty try using just the curry paste instead of the actual powder.

Is Pumpkin Spice Safe For Cats?

Many of the ingredients in pumpkin spice are actually toxic for cats. Cinnamon is one such example. The cinnamon oil component can cause liver damage.

Other spices like nutmeg and cloves can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Is Hot Sauce Safe For Cats?

If you only give your cat a bit of hot sauce they should be alright. But, even a few drops of hot sauce could cause your cat to feel the burn.

They will also get a runny nose and tear up. If consumed your cat may even experience diarrhea or vomiting as a result of the hot sauce.

Don’t Encourage Begging Behavior

But who can resist those big soulful eyes? If your cat is begging for food it can be hard to say no. They are so cute after all.

But for their own good, you must try to make sure that they do not beg for food so.

Below are a few suggestions you can follow in order to discourage any begging from your cat.

Only Feed Your Cat Pet Food

By feeding your cat more tasty food that is meant for humans you are encouraging your cat to beg.

No matter what they have to eat they will know that you will have something better and will beg for it.

On top of that, there are a lot of foods that we consume that are toxic for cats. So, the best option is to only feed your cat food that is meant for them.

Feed Your Cat Before You Eat

If you follow a schedule your cat will know when feeding time is and if you time it so that they eat before you do they will be too full to bother with anything you have.

They may even go and take a nap or groom themselves instead of pestering you for some tasty tidbits.

Don’t Allow Your Cat In The Dining Area

One way to stop your cat from begging when you are eating spicy food is to make sure that they are not allowed in the room you are eating.

This does not always have to be a cat-free zone but when you are eating you may want to put your cat elsewhere until you are done.

Only Give Your Cat Food In Their Bowl

To reduce the risk of begging you will need to avoid feeding the cat from your plate or in the same area as you.

Always try to feed them by using their bowl.

Final Thoughts

Spicy food is not toxic for cats, but that does not mean that it is actually good for them. So, avoid feeding your cat spicy food.

They may act adversely, and we do not want our fur babies to be ill.

We hope you enjoyed reading about whether cats can taste spicy. It is a very interesting topic, and we hope it was as interesting for you as it was for us.

Courtney Trent
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