Can cats taste spices?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can cats taste spices?”. We will also discuss if cats can taste spicy foods and what ingredients they can taste. Moreover, we will also describe if spicy foods are good for cats.

Can cats taste spices?

No, cats cannot taste spices. Cats do not have very well-developed taste buds, so any flavors whether sweet or spicy are basically non-existent to them. Humans have approximately 9,000 taste buds, however, cats have only 470. Their taste senses are primarily built to enjoy protein sources only.

Cats are known to have very heightened sensory organs as compared to us humans, but unfortunately, the taste is not one of them. However, just because they cannot sense the taste does not mean that it doesn’t affect them. Some spices may be beneficial for the cats while some may cause them harm.

Unlike us humans who are very fond of spicy food, cats do not need to taste spices to satisfy their desires. Cats are carnivores in nature, which means that their diet consists primarily of meat and protein. 

As a result, cat taste buds have evolved to recognize only flavors present in the protein sources. 

They don’t need their meat flavored to enjoy the taste of meat. Neither does it help in their survival, so it was not recognized as a strong or beneficial gene. Hence, cats never developed the taste buds that could recognize sweet or spicy flavors.

What can cats taste?

Cats can only taste the flavors of protein sources since they are carnivores and being able to taste the proteins benefits them. Being able to taste the proteins helps them to distinguish between good and bad food. Cats can determine the taste of proteins with their taste buds which also acts as a defense mechanism. 

For example, they will instantly know if the meat is rotten or carrying disease with just one bite. This helps them to avoid such foods and from getting sick or catching a disease. Likewise, this will also encourage protein consumption in cats. 

Since they cannot differentiate any other flavors, any non-protein foods they consume will just be bland which might be unfulfilling. This implies that cats won’t get tempted by any other non-proteinous foods that don’t contain the nutrients they require. Instead, they are attracted to meat because it offers everything they desire.

Is spicy food good for cats?

No. Spicy food is not good for cats or any other pet animals. Now let us discuss why spicy foods are not good for cats:

Spicy foods contain solanine

Almost all spicy foods are made from hot peppers which contain solanine in abundance. Solanine is a poisonous glycoalkaloid commonly found in species of the nightshade family including capsicum annum. When your cat chews on these hot peppers or other spicy food, solanine is released.

Cats can be poisoned by solanine. It can cause gastric discomfort if your cat consumes too much of it. Side effects like vomiting and/or diarrhea are very common which can continue until your cat has completely expelled the hot spices from its system. This can also cause your cats to have bad poop.

For more information on solanine, please click the link here.

Cats can feel spicy sensations 

The ability to taste and feel spice are two completely different things. While cats’ taste buds cannot detect any spicy flavors, this doesn’t mean that they don’t feel the discomfort caused by spicy foods. In fact, cats experience even terrible burning sensations since they are not well-adapted to eating spicy foods.

This might cause reduced food appetite until their taste buds come back to normal. This may also lead your cat to vomit out or regurgitate spicy food. But do not panic, you can make them drink plenty of water to relieve the pain.

Spicy foods may contain other harmful ingredients

Hot peppers are not the only ingredients used in spicy foods. They also contain different spices including onions and garlic. Both these spices are considered to be extremely harmful to cats, more harmful than solanine. Even just a modest amount of onions or garlic can induce significant gastrointestinal difficulties and substantially increase the risk of poisoning.


In this brief guide, we have answered the query, “Can cats taste spices?”. We have also discussed if cats can taste spicy foods and what ingredients they can taste. Moreover, we have also described if spicy foods are good for cats.


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