By Mike Pomranz
Updated October 21, 2015
Credit: © Juniors Bildarchiv GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

As you plop a can of your cat’s favorite, yet unappealingly undiscernible food into a dish, it’s natural to wonder, “What the hell does my cat taste when he eats this?” A new study suggests the answer is more than we previously thought.

According to Discovery, researchers recently uncovered that cats are actually able to taste a range of bitter flavors, a skill they didn’t realize felines had before. “Cats are known as picky eaters,” Peihua Jiang, the study’s lead author and Monell Center molecular biologist, was quoted as saying. “Now that we know that they can taste different bitters, our work may lead to better formulations of cat food that eliminate the bitter off-taste associated with certain flavors and nutrients.” And if scientific studies can’t help us make better cat food, why are we even doing research to begin with?

Despite the findings, which involved looking at cats’ DNA, the researchers aren’t entirely sure why cats are able to taste bitter flavors. In humans, it’s believed that the ability to taste bitters evolved to help us to avoid poisonous plants. Cats, however, generally don’t have plants in their diet, leading researchers to suspect that “alternate physiological roles for bitter receptors” might be at play.

Or maybe cats just didn’t want to be left out of the craft cocktail craze.