Skip to Content

Do cats love sugar?

Sugar can be appealing to cats due to its sweet taste, but too much sugar can actually be harmful to cats. Here’s a deeper look at cats and sugar.

Why Cats May Be Attracted to Sugar

There are a few reasons why cats may seem attracted to sugar:

  • Sweet taste – Cats have taste buds that can detect sweet flavors. The taste of sugar may appeal to some cats due to its sweetness.
  • Smell – Sugary foods often have a sweet, inviting aroma that can catch a cat’s attention.
  • Texture – Soft, smooth textures like frosting or whipped cream can seem appealing.
  • Curiosity – Cats are naturally curious and may investigate any food that smells interesting.
  • Opportunity – If sugary food is left out, a cat may eat it simply because it’s accessible.

However, while the taste of sugar may interest cats, it does not necessarily mean sugar is good for feline health.

Are Cats Attracted to the Smell of Sugar?

Yes, cats can be attracted to the smell of sugar. Cats have an excellent sense of smell, around 14 times better than humans. Their small, wedge-shaped noses contain around 200 million odor-sensitive cells.

These specialized cells allow cats to detect minute amounts of smells. When cats smell the sweet aroma of sugary foods, it can pique their interest andnatural curiosity. Foods with added sugar like cakes, cookies, sugar cereals, and candy have an appealing sugary scent that cats may find tempting.

However, just because cats are drawn to the smell of sugar does not mean sugary foods are healthy for cats. The sugar itself, not the smell, is what can cause health issues.

Do Cats Have a Sweet Tooth?

Cats do not technically have a “sweet tooth” like humans do. A true sweet tooth means having a preference or craving for sweet flavors.

While cats’ taste buds can detect sweetness, there is no evidence that cats have an inherent preference for sweet foods or sugar. Their attraction to sugar is likely due to the smell and texture, not the taste.

Cats’ taste buds are not as sensitive to sweetness as humans’ due to having fewer taste buds overall. They have only around 470 taste buds compared to a human’s 9,000. Their taste buds are specially adapted to detect amino acids from protein, not sugars.

Do Cats Like Sweet Flavors?

While cats can taste sweet flavors, they do not necessarily have a strong preference for sweetness like humans. Here’s how cats experience sweet flavors:

  • Cats’ taste buds detect sweetness but are not highly sensitive to it.
  • Cats respond strongest to amino acids from protein, not sugars.
  • Any “liking” of sweets may come from smell and texture, not taste.
  • Cats do not register sugary foods as rewarding or crave sweets.
  • Kittens initially respond to sweet tastes but this declines as they mature.
  • Some individual cats may show more interest in sweet food depending on personality.

So while cats can taste sugar and occasionally enjoy sugary treats, they are not truly “drawn” to the sweet flavor itself. Their preferences are driven more by smell, texture, curiosity, and opportunity.

Do Cats Like the Taste of Sugar?

Cats have taste receptors to detect sweet flavors but they do not necessarily like or crave the taste of sugar itself. Here are a few key points about cats and the taste of sugar:

  • The cat’s taste system is not highly adapted for tasting sweetness.
  • Cats have much fewer taste buds compared to humans.
  • Their taste buds are specially tuned to amino acids from protein.
  • Any “fondness” for sugar may relate more to smell and texture.
  • Eating sugary treats is likely based on curiosity or opportunity, not taste.
  • While cats can taste sugar’s sweetness, they do not crave or prefer that taste.

So while cats are capable of detecting the sweet taste of sugar, they are fairly neutral to the sweet flavor itself. Their attraction to sugar comes from other factors like smell, texture, and curiosity.

Is Sugar Harmful to Cats?

Yes, sugar can definitely be harmful to cats if consumed in large quantities. Here’s how sugar can negatively impact cats:

  • Obesity – Sugar is high in calories and can lead to weight gain and obesity.
  • Diabetes – High sugar intake increases the risk of diabetes due to insulin resistance.
  • Dental disease – Sugar contributes to dental plaque, cavities, and tooth decay.
  • Gastrointestinal upset – Sugar can cause vomiting, diarrhea, gas, and abdominal pain.
  • Nutrient deficiency – Sugary foods lack proper vitamins, minerals, and protein.
  • Pancreatitis – High fat and sugar in the diet is associated with pancreatitis.
  • Hyperactivity – Sugar spikes can make cats hyper and difficult to handle.

Sugar has no health benefits for cats and the risks of overconsumption are high. The digestible carbohydrates in sugar are unnecessary for cats’ nutritional needs.

Do Cats Get Sugar Rushes?

Yes, cats can absolutely experience sugar rushes and sugar highs after eating large amounts of sugary foods. The signs of a sugar rush in cats include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Zooming or running around
  • Jumping or climbing excessively
  • Acting unruly or destructive
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive vocalizing
  • Dilated pupils
  • Panting
  • Trembling

These effects occur because the sugar is digested and absorbed very quickly, spiking blood sugar and energy levels. The surge of insulin in response to high blood sugar leads to this energetic, hyper behavior.

Sugar rushes generally last about 30-60 minutes in cats until insulin brings their blood sugar back down. Frequent sugar spikes are unhealthy for cats over time.

Do Cats Like Sweet Foods Like Ice Cream?

Cats are often very interested in sweet human foods like ice cream, but these sugary treats are not healthy choices for cats:

  • Ice cream is very high in sugar and unhealthy fats that can lead to obesity and pancreatitis.
  • Milk and dairy cause digestive upset in many cats who are lactose intolerant.
  • The cold temperature of ice cream can irritate some cats’ sensitive teeth.
  • Chocolate ice cream is toxic to cats due to the effects of theobromine.

While cats are attracted to the sight, smell, and texture of ice cream, the sugar and dairy make it inappropriate to feed as more than a very occasional treat in tiny amounts. The same goes for most other sugary human desserts.

Do Cats Like Sugar Water?

Cats generally do not have an inherent taste for sweetened beverages, but some cats will drink and enjoy a small amount of sugar water, especially if they smell it. However, there are healthier treat options than sugary water.

A few drops of tuna juice, bone broth, or plain chicken broth make healthier flavor boosts for a cat’s water. Diluted juice without added sugar can also be used sparingly. Avoid milk and cream as flavored drinks.

The safest approach is to stick to plain, fresh water for hydration and limit any sugary drinks. Consult your vet on safe ways to encourage picky cats to drink more.

Do Cats Like Honey?

Honey is not recommended as a food or treat for cats. Here’s why honey is not ideal for cats:

  • Honey is almost pure simple carbohydrates, which cats do not require nutritionally.
  • The sugar in honey can contribute to obesity, diabetes, and dental disease.
  • Honey sticks to cats’ teeth, risking more dental plaque and tooth decay.
  • Raw honey may contain bacteria, molds, and yeast that can sicken cats.
  • Honey is a choking hazard due to its thick, sticky consistency.

While a cat may check out a bowl of honey due to its sweet aroma, honey provides no benefits and poses some health risks for cats.

Do Cats Like Maple Syrup?

Maple syrup should not be fed to cats. While the flavor and smell may interest some cats, maple syrup poses health risks including:

  • High sugar content that can lead to obesity, diabetes, and dental disease
  • Lack of protein, vitamins, and minerals needed in a cat’s diet
  • Gastrointestinal upset if too much is consumed
  • Potential mold contamination in improperly processed syrup

Maple syrup offers no nutritional benefits to cats, and its sugar content makes it inappropriate as a regular treat. At most, just a drop or two could be offered on very rare occasions.

Do Cats Like Sugar Cubes?

Sugar cubes contain no nutrients and are 100% simple carbohydrates, making them an unhealthy choice for cats. Risks of feeding sugar cubes include:

  • Obesity from excess calories
  • Diabetes from sugar overload
  • Dental cavities and gum disease
  • Nutritional deficiency from lack of protein, vitamins, minerals
  • Gastrointestinal upset from excess sugar alcohol

While a cat may play with or lick a sugar cube out of curiosity, the sugar provides zero health benefits. At most, half of a sugar cube could be given on very rare occasions.


In conclusion, while cats may be intrigued by the smell and taste of sugar, sugary foods do not align with cats’ natural nutritional needs. Cats have a minimal appetite for sweet flavors. Their interest in sugar often comes from the aroma, texture, or opportunity to eat forbidden human foods. Sugary treats should be avoided or only given in tiny amounts on rare occasions.