Do big cats like Marmite?

August 31, 2012 • 10:27 am

That’s a question I’m sure has been preying on your mind forever. (In case you don’t know what Marmite is, it’s a repellent brown goo made from yeast extract and salt.) I have to admit that I can’t abide the stuff, and don’t understand how anyone can, though I’ve seen Brits eat it with relish. (Not really—they eat it plain on toast).  And I know that I’ll be inundated with complaints from Marmitophiles, so remember that taste is a subjective thing. Some folks love the digusting stuff.

But what about big cats like leopards and tigers? Would they like it? Big Cat Rescue has the answer, and you’ll see in the following video.  I must say, though, that cats have better taste than Brits!

The most common response seems to be disgust, often accompanied by a flehmen response, in which animals open their mouth after detecting a scent, exposing the odor-detecting Jacobson’s organ in the roof of the mouth.  You may have seen your own cat do this, and it’s very common when cats smell the urine left by other cats.  I conclude that, to these large felids, Marmite smells like piss.

Apparently no cats were harmed in the making of this video, but they easily could have been!

h/t: Michael

77 thoughts on “Do big cats like Marmite?

  1. Little cats like Vegemite, which is the real stuff. Marmite *is* revolting!
    But Vegemite? All cats I’ve lived with love it 🙂
    But be warned – if you’re not an Australian, you probably won’t be able to stomach vegemite.

    1. I am an English Canadian and grew up on Marmite in England. However I marginally prefer Vegemite to Marmite. They are both great. Here in Canada Vegemite is relatively hard to find so I have to make do with Marmite which is in every supermarket. I’m stil happy as long as I can get one or the other.

    2. I’ve had both Vegemite and Marmite, as well as a few other non-branded “yeast extract” pastes. All are somewhere between “edible” and “nice,” but in most comparisons that I do, Marmite comes ahead of Vegemite marginally. But Vegemite is perfectly fine, and definitely better than no “yeast extract paste.”
      The cat I grew up with, now long gone, used to love a fingertip of Marmite, and of the various other domestic cats that I’ve known a small majority were pro-Marmite.
      I never thought about it, but one of my girlfriends at uni (who made me brush my teeth immediately after eating Marmite – she was a “gagger”, not a “gobbler”) speculated that it’s the high degree of saltiness in the mix that some cats like. And others don’t like.
      That may be subject to relatively easy test : animals that evolved in salt-deficient environments and which frequent salt licks in the wild would be more likely to go for the salty “treat.”
      Halloumi and Marmite sandwich … sounds like supper to me!

  2. It is foul however it is a great ingredient in cooking, especially mixed with the juices of a joint of meat to make gravy. Well, that is what my ma used to use it for!

      1. Possession of Bovril will get you accused of doing things … best left to the imagination.
        In other culinary Briticisms : Oxo, crumbled over broken stale bread ; add hot water ; “goodie”, as in “Goodie, goodie, yum yum!” Cheap and effective. Tastes better than roast beard of birdwatcher.

  3. Marmite is OK, but vegemite is where it’s at. Vegemite on toast is my favorite food when I’m ill with a cold. It’s also a great addition to ground beef and chili.

  4. It’s marginally tolerable as a seasoning on buttered toast. If you can’t see through it, you’ve put on waaaaay too much.

    Having spent a lot of time in NZ and OZ and the UK …

    1. Marmite on toast should be applied at a thickness that it could be used as a filter for viewing a partial solar eclipse.
      If only it weren’t so darned expensive.

  5. Bovril is my umami fix. Excellent as a hot drink on a cold day ~ though it’s OK spread onto dry toast too.

  6. I’m a N American omnivore, and I like Vegemite and Bovril. Never tried Marmite, but to me the first two are just like concentrated bouillon.

    1. That’s the easiest challenge I’ve ever had. Just give me some on toast and I’ll show you how disgusting it is!

    2. I wouldn’t be too sure about your optimism. I’m very familiar with this open-mouthed, scrunched-up-nose response of cats, when they come across extreme odour. My cats’ eyes even take on a dazed look, such as when they encounter leakage from our dogs’ anal glands, and also odour from what could be called “toe cheese” or “toe jam” from under ungroomed toenails. Eeew…

      If I want savory brown stuff, I reach for Solomon Gundy!

  7. My Englishness, such as it is after my years of living in various countries, has boiled down to always having a supply of marmite, HP brown sauce, and salad cream. And the accent.

  8. What’s not to like about Marmite? You can eat it on toast, it’s even better spread on freshly baked buttered bread, it makes a cheese sandwich perfect, it makes a delicious hot drink and adds a depth to gravy. Vegemite? Pah! An inferior pretender. If there were gods they would live on Marmite (but not NZ Marmite, that’s got sugar in it, for reasons known only to Kiwis).

    1. (Reasons known only to Kiwis) … Probably to hide the taste of the Kiwi fruits they presumably make it out of down there.
      I note that Vegemite has a noticeably sandier texture than proper Marmite. The Aussies probably left the window open while they were trying to mimic the recipe.

  9. The either love it or hate it thing was part of the advertising campaign for Marmite in the UK. I used to like it when I was a kid but it’s so long since I had it that I have no idea whether I would like it now.

    1. [Snigger] Remembering finding out that a certain lady at university “gagged” rather than “gobbled”. I’d never told anyone else that story until I saw those adverts and deduced that ours was not a unique experience.

  10. Vegemite and Marmite taste pretty much the same. If you can’t stand one, you can’t stand the other. And if you like one, you’ll like the other. There are subtle differences in flavor, but they are not large enough to justify any strong advocacy of one over the other.

    Marmite has the look and consistency of very gooey caramel, which makes it challenging to remove from the container without making a mess. Vegemite is darker and more like softened butter in consistency – it doesn’t run, and is quite easy to spread.

    It’s definitely an acquired taste. I use both on buttered bread of any sort (toast, hard roll, bagel, etc.), when the mood strikes me. While I’ve lately seen Marmite on the shelves in some local stores (NJ/PA), I order both online.

  11. So how do we feel about Patum Peperium – Gentlemen’s Relish? My cat was attracted by the smell, but wouldn’t eat it.

  12. I rather like Marmite (haven’t tried Vegemite, a little hard to get tht here in the states where I live. Wegmans has Marmite). I also like Spam, especially the low sodium version. A couple of the big cats seemed to like it, licking it up. Some of them also seemed rather “stoned” by it, that one leopard and the two lynxes, if I recall correctly. I would have like to see a snow leopard with it 🙂

  13. My British mother can’t stand Marmite (I can take it or leave it – no strong opinion either way). For Mum, the ONLY breakfast worth eating is white toast with butter and Lyle’s Golden Syrup. Having long since sworn off most wheat and refined sugar, I no longer allow the heavenly syrup into my pantry, because I still find it irresistible. Must be genetic.

    The feline version of Marmite is called CatLax. It’s a hairball remedy (brown yeast-flavored goo in a tube). I’ve never seen a cat that liked it.

    Big Cat Rescue is great. I visited in 1999 and loved it, and they’ve made a lot of improvements in the place since then.

    1. Lyells Golden Syrup on toast, with coarsely crystallized brown sugar sprinkled on the top and condensed milk spread over the top of that. When I saw that sandwich (or the debris of it’s construction) in the kitchen, I knew that my older sister was pregnant again.

  14. If you hate Marmite you’ll LOVE Twiglets!

    Marmite flavored wHeat** sticks! Salty and Marmity and yummy. Go great with G&T.

    Just returned from London with a suitcase full of Twiglets packets

    Twiglets even have a Wikipedia entry!

    **overemphasize the “H” Stewie Griffin-style for maximum effect and annoyance.

    (a cherished and valuable bag heading your way, Jerry, and I want a full report!)

    1. Twiglets are the dog’s – I can eat a whole family bag on one sitting, in the car, away from the competition.

  15. Marmite. I grew up on Marmite. Marmite on cream crackers. And one of my earliest memories is being in nusery school with Mrs. Lowe who also knew the value of a good savoury spread. She used to make what she called ‘Rusks’; they were bread fingers, baked in the oven until golden brown and crunchy. Mrs. Lowe would sit us all in a circle and spread the Marmite from the biggest jar she could buy and pass them around. No other snack has lived up to that experience before or since. And I’ve devoured a few snacks let me tell you. All my lads eat Marmite too. No influence from me natch.

  16. Growing up in suburban Perth, most kids would “brown bag” it for school lunch. Most of the time, it was either a jam sandwich, a peanut paste sandwich, or a marmite or vegemite sandwich.

    I suppose we sometimes had other things in the sandwiches. But, in the hotter months, cheese would tend to melt. This was before refrigeration became common, so cold cuts of meat weren’t an option. Marmite and vegemite had the advantage of keeping rather well.

  17. I don’t know about big cats, but I have tried giving Marmite to house cats and they were perfectly happy to lick it off the knife.

    1. Loved the video!

      (Of course, as someone who thinks that Marmite looks, smells and probably tastes like [something else notoriously brown and sticky], I would, wouldn’t I?)

      Interestingly, here in New Zealand, the owners of the NZ ‘Marmite’ trademark won’t allow English Marmite to be imported under that name, even though the bottle is distinctively different. While I’m theoretically opposed to all such monopolistic trade practices I’ll wait until it happens with something I might want to buy before taking to the streets…

  18. My sisters cat used to love marmite!

    NZ Marmite is the best (I would say that I am a Kiwi) followed by Vegemite. I don’t like the British Marmite though – it has a weird aftertaste. Yeah yeah they all taste weird – you have to be brought up on the stuff or you will never get it.

    Sadly there is a world wide shortage of NZ Marmite, the factory was damaged in the Christchurch earthquake so I have to make do with the Aussie Vegemite. 🙁

    1. And as an Aussie, I only like Vegemite and agree that you have to be brought up with it. My thoughts are often with Christchurch.

    2. I don’t agree that you have to be brought up with it. Once during my undergrad an Australian friend brought some vegemite to lunch and let me try some. I about flipped, and was on a train that day to Tea and Sympathy to get some from their store. I’ve always preferred vegemite to marmite, and if you’re crazy enough to let it sit on a shelf it lasts longer — marmite gets hard.

    3. Obviously god hates the stuff too. While cleaning out the house recently, I found a pamphlet from that cathedral that god hated so much; I just don’t get that god – I thought the building was rather beautiful (well, it was before the divine renovation).

      1. I thought it was kinda ironical that god chose to zap _Christ_church of all cities in NZ, with an earthquake aimed point-blank at it. And it can’t have been a boobquake, I doubt there were enough bikinis on New Brighton beach to even register on the boob-o-meter.

        Wrecked the Cathedral (anglican), wrecked the Catholic cathedral too. Gotta love the irony.

        Atheist though I am, I’m sad to see the Cathedral go, it was the focal point of the centre of Chch, the only city centre in NZ worth looking at, in my view.

  19. Some years ago, my cat was twining about my feet, begging, as I prepared pineapple. I dropped a piece on the floor for him. He sniffed it, looked odd, then stood over it and scratched at the floor as if burying shit in his litter box. An unequivocal opinion there.

    (An opinion of pineapple that I do not share.)

    Neither he nor I have had the opportunity to form an opinion on Marmite, I’m afraid.

  20. In South Africa we also have a long Marmite tradition (as we were colonised by the Poms), similar to the UK version without sugar. Does team up very well with something sweet on toast, and a cup of decent black coffee. There is now also a version blended with cheese. Lovely. Go on, broaden your horizon!

    1. I dare you to hand the marmite-tainted cheese to a Norwegian – that should be a sight. The Norwegians love their brown cheese (I suspect it’s 90% sugar 10% cheese) – maybe that marmite-cheese will cure their brown cheese addiction.

      1. 1) Gjetost cheese is a favorite in my wife’s family, and none of them likes mar-/vege-mite — maybe you’re on to something.

        2) The first time my wife tried vegemite she was somehow under the impression that it was a chocolate spread, or something like nutella. I’ve no inkling how she got that idea.
        <__> <_<

  21. I’m English, but I marginally prefer Vegemite to Marmite. Don’t get me wrong, I will eat Marmite, but Vegemite has a slightly milder taste and a better texture for spreading.

    I wonder how many of the people (mainly Americans) who have tried Marmite/Vegemite and found it disgusting have not understood that you have to spread it very thin? I can quite imagine that if you spread it thick like (e.g.) peanut butter you will not want to try it again! If you haven’t grown up in a Marmite/Vegemite consuming culture you may not have learned this vital fact.

    1. Many, many years ago a German pen-friend came to stay. At breakfast one morning he picked up the Marmite jar. All of us immediately issued warnings: “don’t spread it too thickly”; “you’ve got too much on the knife”; “scrape some off before eating the toast”. He ignored us. All we could do was watch in horror as he took his first bite and his mouth, followed quickly by his whole face, registered surprise, disgust and then pain. He never returned and I didn’t get an invitation to visit him.

  22. One of the old tv adverts for Marmite included the line, “[spread it] good and thin, mind”!

    I prefer Vegemite by itself on toast, but Marmite in combination with other things. The best combo is a teaspoonful of Marmite mashed into two hard-boiled eggs.

    Btw, the name comes from the traditional cooking pot (in which it was first made, iirc) depicted on the label.

    Folks in the UK will have seen, but others may not have, the special Diamond Jubilee version, Ma’amite.


    1. I’m not sure that the Ma’amite version wasn’t just a re-packaging marketing ploy. There are, however, other versions of Marmite:

      Marmite XO, extra matured for a stronger, fuller flavour.
      Guinness Marmite, which is made from 30% Guinness yeast, rather than just ale yeast
      Champagne Marmite, limited edition Valentine’s day special with a hint of champagne
      Marston’s Pedigree Marmite, an Ashes special edition, made with Marston’s Pedigree yeast, rather than the usual Burton Ale yeast. Only produced when England play the Aussies in the Ashes series. I don’t know if Vegemite do an Ashes limited edition version. Naturally, there is no NZ Ashes limited edition Marmite, as there are no NZ Ashes, only Australian Ashes.

      1. “Re-packaging marketing ploy?”

        Yes, that’s exactly what it was. I did the taste test and the only difference was the packaging.

        Although when I went looking for Marmite in the Tesco in Edinburgh in early June and found “Ma’amite” instead, my first thought was that it was some kind of Marmite knock-off. I had to read the label to find out that it was the real thing.

        It took me a few minutes to realize that “Ma’amite” is a pun in British English.

        1. I’ve seen it on the shelves, but only in 250g jars, so I didn’t buy any, as I alsways go for the largest available.

          The XO stuff is pretty damned good, as is the Gunness version, but rather smoother and milder (perhaps).

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