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Why You Can't Train a Cat with Chocolate

Most dogs love chocolate, even though veterinarians say it isn't good for them, but cats turn up their noses at sweets (as well as that expensive new cat food you bought). Scientists say cats don't have a sweet tooth because they don't have the genetic ability to taste sweets. Wild cats, such as lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars, have a similar inability to taste sweets. But as most of us know, the cats we adopt as pets get fat anyway.

"One possible explanation for this behavior is that felines are unable to detect sweet-tasting compounds like sugars and high intensity sweeteners because their sweet taste receptor is defective," says geneticist Xia Li. "An obvious place to look?is at the genes coding for the sweet-taste receptor."

The sweet receptor in mammals is composed of two proteins, known as T1R2 and T1R3. Each is coded for by a separate gene. In the new study, the researchers have found a defect in the gene encoding the T1R2 protein in cats.

"Our results account for the common observation that the cat lives in a different sensory world than the cat owner," says researcher V

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