Can Cats Taste Spicy?

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Our feline friends often sniff around the house to discover all the things their favorite humans have to offer. And sometimes they catch the scent of something that seems tasty. Attracted by their sense of smell, cats also love to try things that do not usually fit into their natural diet. They often curiously explore new things such as spicy food. Can cats taste spicy?

» You might be interested in How Often You Should Take Your Cat to the Vet and Can Cats Have Salami?

cat sniffing a red pepper at the end of a fork

While a spicy dish might smell nice to a cat, can your pet really taste spicy or hot foods? And is it safe for cats to eat spicy food?

You can find the answer in our guide below.

Can Cats Taste Spicy Food?

If your cat is eating something it doesn’t like, then you will definitely know it. Cats often sniff around food, but don’t decide to eat any of it. And even if the cat decides to try it, they quickly make up their mind on whether to keep eating or not.

The senses of cats are usually much more superior to that of humans. However, there is one exception to this: taste. Cats only have 470 taste buds, while humans have around 9,000 taste buds. This is a big difference which means cats can taste a lot less than we do.

A cat sitting at empty food dishes

Likely due to their natural development and evolution as carnivores; the difference in our sense of taste is understandable. In the wild, cats eat meat which usually doesn’t have a sweet or spicy taste. This is likely the main reason why cats cannot taste spicy food.

However, they are able to sense sour and bitter flavors. Again, this is likely to be an evolutionary advantage, as rotten meat can taste acidic or bitter, so it’s a protection mechanism not to get sick. Humans also have this innate protection to dislike bitter foods as bitter foods in the wild are often unsafe to eat.

This also means that cats cannot sense spicy food. However, they may be able to sense the difference between spiced and non-spiced food. Depending on the type of food, it’s possible for them to distinguish spicy from non-spicy meals.

Can Cats Taste Spicy?

What Makes Food Spicy?

Spices contain volatile oils and other chemicals which give them their flavor. When these ingredients come in contact with heat, they release their aroma and flavor.

These chemicals include capsaicin, an ingredient found in chili peppers. Capsaicin triggers the pain receptors of most animals, which means that they don’t usually touch anything spicy.

This means that your cat may not be able to taste the spiciness in the food but they will experience it as slightly painful. And as the cat cannot really taste the food, it only feels the pain, so there is no real pleasure for a cat eating spicy food.

Cat sniffing eggs and broccoli in its dish

Can Spicy Food Be Bad For Cats?

The problem here is that cats are typically unable to tell if a particular food is spicy or not. Which can make it difficult for them to avoid foods that they don’t want. As a result, cats sometimes end up consuming foods that they shouldn’t.

Although spicy food isn’t toxic for a cat, it is not part of their natural diet which means cats cannot digest it very well.

We noticed that when our cats tried a spicy snack, they chewed on it a couple of times and then spat it out again. Typically afterwards they try to find water to relieve some of the pain in its mouth.

If your cat only tries the food and doesn’t eat too much of it, then there is no danger to your furry friend.

Cat sniffing at red food dish

What Happens When Your Cat Eats Spicy Food?

If your cat decides to swallow the spicy food, the hot food will cause a burning sensation down the cat’s throat and into the stomach. In this case, your cat will likely experience some intestinal distress, such as diarrhea and vomiting.

Although this will not cause any harm long term to healthy cats, it’s important to keep a close eye on your cat during this time. If you notice any other behavior, such as weakness and lethargy, then it’s best to take them to the vet.

Make sure that your cat has plenty of fresh water at all times. They will need lots of fluid to remove the spicy capsaicin from its digestive tract.

It is also a good idea to give your cat wet food during this time. This will help the cat with additional fluid intake.

Why Does Your Cat Seem To Like Spicy Foods?

Why Does Your Cat Seem To Like Spicy Foods?

Cats are curious creatures, and most cats are up for trying anything, including tasting some human foods.

Although spice in food can cause stomach pain in cats, some cats seem to absolutely love spicy food. The exact reason for this is still unknown, and this varies by cat. Some cats don’t have this problem at all.

It could be because of their curiosity about things they haven’t tried before, or perhaps they just like the way it smells. It is also possible that cats enjoy the hot temperature spicy food creates in their mouths.

Even at room temperature, spicy food can be warming, and cats love everything warm and cozy. And this might be the reason some cats love spice so much.

Best Cat Food Options

When it comes to keeping your cat healthy and happy, it’s important to choose the highest quality food. Our team has curated a list of the best cat foods, based on customer reviews, quality ingredients, and price.

What Can You Do If Your Cat Loves Spicy Foods?

If your cat can’t stay away from spicy foods, you should make sure that they don’t have access to it. Store all of your spicy foods in sealed containers where your cat can’t reach it.

You should monitor how much of something they eat, if they end up getting into the foods regardless. Try to keep the spicy foods to the minimum.

You can also make sure that you provide your cat with a variety of flavors and textures. Some variety in their diet might alleviate their cravings for something different.

Keep in mind when choosing what kind of food to feed your pet that cats have specific dietary needs. They require high protein diets to maintain their health and vitality. So if you’re varying the cat’s food, just make sure that they’re getting what they need in the dietary department.

What Foods To Avoid Feeding Your Cat

A kitten standing in its dish

Avoid feeding your cat foods that contain garlic, onions, peppers, or alcohol, as well as any dairy products. These ingredients can irritate the cat’s sensitive digestive system. Cats cannot digest anything containing dairy, such as chocolate, cheese, or milk.

Try to avoid giving them hot peppers or a spicy meal as this can cause an upset stomach and lead to diarrhea in a cat. They can get very sick if they eat something that causes them discomfort.


There are many reasons why your cat might like spicy foods. However, it’s important to know that these foods can cause serious problems if eaten by a cat who isn’t used to eating them.

So, whenever your cat starts showing signs of being ill after eating spicy foods, it’s a good idea to contact your veterinarian.

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A cat sniffing a red pepper on a fork

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