Why Is My Cat Eating So Much?

We all know that felines enjoy their food, but have you ever found yourself wondering why your cat is always hungry? As an owner, you know that a cat who refuses to eat requires a trip to the vet. But you may not know that if your cat is overeating there may be more than just weight gain to worry about.

Unless a kitten is showing excessive weight gain that implies theyre being overfed, theyre considered an adult once they hit one year of age. While its up to you when it comes to canned vs dry food, cats need protein, taurine, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fatty acids and water to stay happy and healthy.

Your cat will display habitual behaviour around mealtimes, including wandering over to where their food is kept, meowing, and rubbing their tail against your legs. While keeping an eye on your cats behaviour and monitoring how much they eat, you should look out for other signs that may point to an underlying problem, including: increased thirst, frequent urination, abnormal weight gain or loss, vomiting, and diarrhea. Whether its due to psychological or physical health issues, its essential that you discover the cause behind your cats increased appetite as soon as you notice that theyre overeating.

Aside from any underlying issues, an increased appetite can have dangerous effects on your cats health and wellbeing in the long term. If you suspect your cats hunger is due to a psychological rather than physical complaint, try gentle play, petting and reassurance before mealtimes and see if their diet improves. There are several reasons for an increased appetite and weight loss in cats with cancer, including changes in metabolism, the bodys natural response to the condition or tumours in the intestinal tract.

As long as your cats weight is stable and they arent displaying any worrying symptoms, theyre likely just a normal food-motivated feline that loves to eat.

Why is my cat all of a sudden eating so much?

Some of the common causes of an increased appetite are: Worms : Worms, or intestinal parasites, feed off what your cat eats and steal most of the nutrition from their food. … An overactive thyroid is caused by an increase in production of hormones and results in cats using their energy too rapidly.

Is it normal for a cat to want to eat all the time?

Your cat will display habitual behavior around mealtime when it is hungry, and many cats can be quite demanding that they are served. But cats aren’t as motivated by food as dogs, so acting hungry all the time, begging, or whining for food between feedings may point to a medical issue.

Why does my cat act like its starving?

Parasites, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes are just a few of the reasons your cat’s behaviors around food may have changed. Before assuming a psychological reason, such as an eating disorder, run some tests with your vet to eliminate the possibility of a serious illness causing your cat to act so ravenous.

Your cat will display habitual behavior around mealtime when it is hungry, and many cats can be quite demanding that they are served. But cats aren’t as motivated by food as dogs, so acting hungry all the time, begging, or whining for food between feedings may point to a medical issue. Understanding how and when cats act hungry can help you know when to see your veterinarian and what to report.

Cats can easily jump onto a counter or table and snatch a piece of chicken or lick a stick of butter. Cats are just like any other petand many peoplewho can’t resist a tempting treat, so make sure you cover your food if you plan to leave it unattended.

Increasing meal rations or feeding a food higher in calories may help keep your cat from counter surfing if this is the case. This is common with cats who have a history of being strays, feral, or who have come from a large litter of kittens where mealtime resulted in competitive eating if food was scarce. Cats that have grown up or gotten into the habit of eating quickly may relax and learn that they need not worry about the availability of their food.

You can buy special food bowls with finger-like projections or nubs meant to make your cat work around them and therefore eat slower.

Lilly, a snow white 7-year-old domestic shorthair cat, appeared healthy and happybut she was hungry all the time. She had even lost some weight, despite an extra scoop of kibble at dinnertime. So why was this cat always hungry? Concerned about her pets never-satiated appetite, pet parent Emma Rickets of Roseburg, Oregon, took little Lilly to the veterinarian for a checkup.

Cats with diabetes mellitus exhibit signs of increased hunger due to their inability to break down and use glucose for energy, she says. Insulin is the only hormone in the body that allows it to take glucose (i.e. sugar) from food and bring it into the cells where it can be broken down into usable energy.

Treatment for a cat with diabetes will then involve a change to a high-protein diet and insulin injections twice a day at home under the skin, Dr. Mazepa says. In addition, a hyperthyroid cat could show increased thirst or urination, be vomiting or have diarrhea, have a dry haircoat and be hyperactive because of their high metabolism, Dr. Murphy says. To diagnose the disease, the veterinarian will do a blood test that looks at the cats thyroid hormones and perform a physical exam.

A veterinarian may feel a thyroid slip or enlargement when she palpates the cats neck, and she may also hear a heart murmur or arrhythmia due to cardiac changes, she says. Treatment, Murphy says, involves diet, medication and possibly radiation therapy to address the thyroid glands hormone overproduction. Because of this, the cat will lose nutrients from food in the stool, which results in an increased appetite and weight loss.

Diagnosis involves a thorough medical exam and blood test to check for low B12 concentration, along with an ultrasound or other imaging to look for evidence of intestinal thickening or enlarged lymph nodes, Murphy says. Treatment for GI lymphoma is treated with steroids, plus or minus oral or injectable chemotherapy medications. If a cat has a disease called exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), the pancreas is unable to secrete those enzymes.

Other signs of EPI include vomiting, severe diarrhea often with greasy stools, an unkempt haircoat and weight loss. Treatment involves supplementing the cats food with powdered digestive enzyme with each meal for life. As animals get older, their ability to digest fat and protein decreases while their energy requirements increase, she says, adding that in cats, the shift happens at around age 13.

Before a veterinarian would label an increased appetite as just part of the aging process, however, theyll investigate one of the other potential causes, Dr. Murphy says. They amble about, stalk prey, climb trees and stealthily scurry from one hiding spot to another as they hunt and gather their food. The KONG Active Treat Ball cat toy , for example, lets pet parents fill its hollow interior with treats, and its unusual shape makes it roll and move in unpredictable ways to bust cat boredom.

Pet parents can also spend more time with their pals and provide visual stimulation, like hanging bird feeders outside the windows, for entertainment when theyre gone during the day, Dr. Mazepa says. This problem would be diagnosed by ruling out other causes of increased hunger (as outlined above), as well as questioning the owner very specifically about their cats diet and volume of food fed each day, she says.

If your favorite feline has been packing on the pounds, excessive eating could be to blame. Unfortunately, when a cat eats more than she should, she’s putting her health in danger. It’s up to you to get her eating habits under control and help her trim down.

If your feline companion consumes more than the pet food packaging recommends, but is she is lean and lithe, she may simply need more calories than the average cat. Signs of obesity in a cat include a rounded abdomen, the absence of a defined waist, ribs that you can’t feel when petting her, and noticeable fat deposits on the body.

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Crying for Food at Scheduled Meal Times

Cats are smarter than you may think, and if you feed them around the same time every day, they’ll know when it’s mealtime. Meowing, crying, and staring at you until you put food in its bowl are things a hungry cat is great at doing. No, your cat isn’t starving, but it probably is hungry. Just like humans, a cat‘s empty stomach sends signals to its brain to tell it to eat and if you are the person that usually feeds it, your cat will make sure you don’t forget its food.

Whining for Treats

If you keep your cat‘s treats in a specific place and it sees you standing at that spot, then it may run over and start crying for a treat. This is even more likely to occur if you pick that bag or container up and give it a shake. Cats have excellent hearing and will come running if they hear a familiar, happy sound, especially if they are hungry.

Stealing Food From the Table

Cats can easily jump onto a counter or table and snatch a piece of chicken or lick a stick of butter. Once they get a taste of something good that isn’t in their food dish, it’ll be a bad habit you’ll have a tough time breaking. Cats are just like any other pet—and many people—who can’t resist a tempting treat, so make sure you cover your food if you plan to leave it unattended.Cats that are especially active and those that are getting inadequate amounts of food during mealtime may be more likely to steal food off the table. Increasing meal rations or feeding a food higher in calories may help keep your cat from counter surfing if this is the case.

Eating Quickly

Cats who have had to compete or fight for food are more likely to consume their meals quickly or ravenously. Some cats even grumble or growl while eating and seem to swallow their food without chewing it. This is common with cats who have a history of being strays, feral, or who have come from a large litter of kittens where mealtime resulted in competitive eating if food was scarce.Cats that have grown up or gotten into the habit of eating quickly may relax and learn that they need not worry about the availability of their food. After getting regular meals, most cats won’t feel compelled to eat as quickly as they can, unless they truly have a medical concern that makes them feel constantly ravenous.

Eating and Vomiting

Vomiting is not uncommon to see in house cats. They groom themselves extensively so they often have a lot of fur in their digestive tracts, which can form a hairball. If a cat is not able to pass a hairball in its feces, then the fur will either come out when your cat vomits or it will become stuck in its stomach or intestines. If a hairball is lodged in your cat, then it will vomit its food, since the food will be unable to digest. If you suspect your cat has a hairball or other item that is stuck in their gastrointestinal tract, take your pet to the veterinarian. X-rays will show whether your cat needs to have a swallowed item or hairball removed. This removal is often done surgically, but sometimes endoscopy is able to retrieve things from inside the esophagus or stomach.Some cats vomit on a regular basis after eating and their food is still intact or whole. This act of vomiting whole food soon after eating is called regurgitation and it usually occurs because the cat ate too quickly. Thankfully, regurgitation is easy to stop by slowing your cat down while it eats. Try spreading its food out on a cookie sheet or place objects that are too large to eat inside your cat‘s food bowl. You can buy special food bowls with finger-like projections or nubs meant to make your cat work around them and therefore eat slower.

Eating and Gaining Weight

If your cat is crying for food and is gaining weight, then this is a sign to you that you should feed your cat less, despite what it is trying to tell you. Some cats, like some people, just really like food and the more you feed them, the quicker they’ll become overweight and prone to a myriad of medical issues. Diabetes, joint issues, cancer, and more are all more likely to occur in overweight pets. Most cats only require about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of dry kibble a day but this can vary depending on your cat‘s activity level and how many calories your cat food contains.If you have a female cat who has not been spayed and could have had exposure to a male cat who has not been neutered, your cat may be hungry and gaining weight because she is pregnant. If this is the case, make sure you are feeding it a kitten formula to help provide maximum nutrition to the growing kittens inside your cat.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes is a disease that prevents cats from using dietary glucose for energy because of a lack of insulin, says Allison Mazepa, DVM, DACVIM, BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.“Cats with diabetes mellitus exhibit signs of increased hunger due to their inability to break down and use glucose for energy,” she says. “Insulin is the only hormone in the body that allows it to take glucose (i.e. sugar) from food and bring it into the cells where it can be broken down into usable energy. Cats that lack insulin will be unable to use this energy, and one of the classic signs of diabetes mellitus in cats is weight loss in the face of increased hunger and a good appetite.”That means a diabetic cat would crave extra kibble to compensate for their lack of energy. In addition to cats appearing hungry all the time, Dr. Mazepa says, some other signs include increased thirst and increased urination.“When an owner sees all three signs together in their cat, this should trigger a trip to the veterinarian, especially in a middle aged to older cat,” she says.There, the pet care professionals will run a blood test and urinalysis, checking for increased blood and urine glucose.“Treatment for a cat with diabetes will then involve a change to a high-protein diet and insulin injections twice a day at home under the skin,” Dr. Mazepa says.
2Hyperthyroidism is a disease that results in too much thyroid hormone circulating in a cat’s blood, says Maryanne Murphy, DVM, Ph.D., DACVN, clinical assistant professor of nutrition in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville, Tennessee.“Thyroid hormone is involved in regulating the basal metabolic rate in the body,” she explains. “When a cat has all this extra thyroid hormone moving around, it’s amplifying the metabolic rate. That means that all the energy the cat is taking in through its diet is being burned through very quickly. And so, it’s extremely common for the cat to become very hungry and even start to lose weight because it can’t keep up with those energy needs.”In addition, a hyperthyroid cat could show increased thirst or urination, be vomiting or have diarrhea, have a dry haircoat and be hyperactive because of their high metabolism, Dr. Murphy says. To diagnose the disease, the veterinarian will do a blood test that looks at the cat’s thyroid hormones and perform a physical exam.“A veterinarian may feel a thyroid slip or enlargement when she palpates the cat’s neck, and she may also hear a heart murmur or arrhythmia due to cardiac changes,” she says.Treatment, Murphy says, involves diet, medication and possibly radiation therapy to address the thyroid gland’s hormone overproduction.Dr. Mazepa adds that Hill’s Prescription Diet y/d Thyroid Care cat food can help, too. “This diet is iodine-restricted and results in a reduction in thyroid hormone in cats that eat this diet exclusively after several months,” she says.
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Bowel Problems

Intestinal problems can be associated with a decreased appetite or increased appetite, says Dr. Murphy, but when a cat is hungry all the time, it may have to do with irritated bowels from an inflammatory disease or intestinal cancer like lymphoma.“It depends on the primary cause of the intestinal disease, but if we’re dealing with an increased appetite, it could be because of the level of inflammation is affecting the cat’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients, and it may need to take in a higher level of food to compensate for that,” she says.Dr. Mazepa agrees. “Disease that affects the small intestine results in an inability to absorb nutrients,” she says. “Because of this, the cat will lose nutrients from food in the stool, which results in an increased appetite and weight loss.”Diagnosis involves a thorough medical exam and blood test to check for low B12 concentration, along with an ultrasound or other imaging to look for evidence of intestinal thickening or enlarged lymph nodes, Murphy says.“There’s a wide range of treatments depending on the cause of the disease,” she says. “We talk about diet changes. Sometimes you have to do immunosuppressive medications like steroids or other things. Sometimes we have to do chronic antibiotics and sometimes we do probiotics.”If the veterinarian finds that it is lymphoma, more aggressive treatments may be in order, Dr. Mazepa says.“To make a definitive diagnosis of primary GI disease, intestinal biopsies are needed,” she says. “This may be performed using a flexible endoscope or via a more traditional open surgical approach. Treatment for GI lymphoma is treated with steroids, plus or minus oral or injectable chemotherapy medications.”4

Pancreatic Disease

Along with the gastrointestinal tract, the pancreas secretes digestive enzymes to help digest food after a meal, Dr. Mazepa says. If a cat has a disease called exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), the pancreas is unable to secrete those enzymes.“This results in maldigestion of food and signs of increased hunger due to maldigestion,” she says. “Other signs of EPI include vomiting, severe diarrhea often with greasy stools, an unkempt haircoat and weight loss.”If your cat is showing these signs, you should visit the veterinarian for an exam to determine why they’re so hungry, Dr. Mazepa says.“To specifically test for EPI, a blood test called a TLI (trypsin-like immunoreactivity) is needed,” she says. “If the TLI is low, then the diagnosis of EPI is made. Treatment involves supplementing the cat’s food with powdered digestive enzyme with each meal for life.”5

Aging

The natural changes that happen with aging can make a cat hungry all the time, too, Dr. Murphy says. As animals get older, their ability to digest fat and protein decreases while their energy requirements increase, she says, adding that in cats, the shift happens at around age 13.“Fat provides twice as many calories in every gram as protein or carbohydrates,” Dr. Murphy says. “If you lose your ability to digest that fat, it results in a calorie deficit. The cat has to start eating more to get the calorie load in.”Before a veterinarian would label an increased appetite as just part of the aging process, however, they’ll investigate one of the other potential causes, Dr. Murphy says.“We would want to first rule out diseases like hyperthyroidism, diabetes, intestinal diseases and lymphoma before saying it’s just aging,” she says.6

Parasites

Intestinal parasites—and a lot of them—can also make a cat hungry all the time, Dr. Murphy says.“It’s probably not super common, but when it happens, the parasitic load is either competing with the energy that the cat is taking in the diet or is inhibiting the cat’s ability to digest and absorb those nutrients,” she says. “A combination of those things will cause a cat to eat more food to try to maintain weight.”Dr. Mazepa agrees. “Intestinal parasites cause increased hunger because the parasites themselves are eating nutrients ingested by the host,” she says. “This results in less food for the animal and thus increased hunger. You might also see diarrhea or vomiting, a poor haircoat or passage of worms in the stool.”To diagnose intestinal parasites, a veterinarian will test the cat’s stool to look for microscopic evidence of parasites, like eggs and larvae, Dr. Murphy says.“Treatment is usually an oral deworming medication that’s specific to the parasite, as well as cleaning the environment to prevent reinfection after treatment,” Dr. Mazepa says. “Screening is very important in all cats with increased hunger but is especially crucial in kittens/young adult cats and cats that spend time outside.”7In the wild, cats move a lot more than their indoor cousins. They amble about, stalk prey, climb trees and stealthily scurry from one hiding spot to another as they hunt and gather their food. They’re anything but bored.“For indoor cats, though, boredom is a big aspect for them, and cats are persnickety and persistent,” Dr. Murphy says. “So, a lot of times, they’re asking for attention, but the owners misinterpret their cues and think they’re always hungry and asking for food. And, of course, if you turn around and offer them food, they’ll happily take it!”This can make the cat pack on the pounds, Dr. Mazepa says.“When cats are eating out of boredom, they may have no other clinical signs other than weight gain,” she says. “In some cases, other behavioral problems stemming from boredom will occur, such as barbering (i.e. overgrooming, often on the belly or legs) or inappropriate urination (i.e. spraying or urinating outside of the litter box).”A cat who seems always hungry but is otherwise healthy might need some environmental enrichment, Dr. Murphy says.“Feed them multiple small meals throughout the day using a treat releasing toy or little mice toys that you can put food in, and then put them all around the house so the cat has to hunt for the mice to get the food,” Dr. Murphy says. “So, from an enrichment perspective, keep them busy during the day.”The KONG Active Treat Ball cat toy, for example, lets pet parents fill its hollow interior with treats, and its unusual shape makes it roll and move in unpredictable ways to bust cat boredom.Pet parents can also spend more time with their pals and provide visual stimulation, like hanging bird feeders outside the windows, for entertainment when they’re gone during the day, Dr. Mazepa says.
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Causes

One reason your cat may eat too much is simply because food is available. While some cats can self-regulate their food intake and stop eating when they’ve had enough, others gobble up all of the available food even if they are full. If you have multiple cats, your excessive eater may even bully other cats away from their food or sneak bites from a different pet’s bowl.In some cases, a cat overeats because she is anxious that food may not be available later. This can be a relic from kittenhood or it can be the result of other household animals attempting to steal her food.Other cats may simply like the taste of their favorite food enough to want to continue eating it after their tummies are satisfied. A cat that overeats may need more protein in her diet and may be consuming more calories in an attempt to get that protein.

Risks

Overeating leads to obesity, which can cause serious health problems in cats. An overweight cat is at higher risk for feline diabetes, urinary tract disorders, fatty liver disease, heart problems, arthritis, cancer and respiratory diseases. Overweight cats tend to have shorter life spans than thin cats. Because they may have trouble grooming themselves, they are more susceptible to matting and dander.

Solutions

To keep your cat from eating too much, feed her measured portions twice a day. Use the recommendations on the cat food packaging to determine how much to feed her. Different brands have different calorie and nutrient levels, so if you switch brands you may have to change the size of the portion you dole out. Try to feed your overeater in a room away from other pets so she doesn’t get anxious about meals. Switch to a canned food that is high in protein and low in grain products so your cat gets more of her calories from a protein source instead of from carbohydrates.When you switch from one brand or type of cat food (but not from one flavor to another within a brand’s offerings), be sure to introduce the new food slowy to reduce risk of stomach upset. Substitute a fifth of her regular portion with the new food, gradually increasing over a week to 10 days until the new food is all your cat gets.