Animals, especially in the feline category simply love food. They love it so much so that they practically gobble their meal up in a split second, leaving all owners wondering how can their cat be always this hungry ?
If you own a cat, you probably already know that if they are outright refusing to eat you take them to the vet immediately. However, does the same apply for the opposite? An overeating cat may have more than just weight gain to stress about.
Having a cat that is always hungry is one tell tale sign that they may have a health issue such as hyperthyroidism, cancer or even diabetes. In this article we look over the possible causes of overeating and the symptoms to look out for along with what the best course of action to take if you are concerned about your cat and its eating habits.
You need to establish a healthy diet
Sticking to a feeding routine is one surefire way of identifying changes, if any, in your cat’s behavior around food. Although there is no straightforward answer when it comes to the correct amount of food to give to a cat, there are some guidelines that can help you to avoid overfeeding your feline friend.
When it comes to kittens, they usually require about twice the nutrients of an adult cat so that they can grow properly and have sufficient energy, however, their stomachs are too small to handle large amounts of food. The right amount of food to feed a kitten of under six weeks should be kept with their mother, only after should you start introducing them to nutritious and high – quality wet food.
At around six weeks, a kitten should be eating about four or more small portions at various times throughout the day. After a kitten reaches 12 weeks of age, you can start increasing the size of each meal and space them out more to three meals a day max. Once they reach six months of age, the portions should be reduced to only twice a day.
Only if a kitten shows excessive weight gain will it imply that they are being overfed, otherwise they are considered an adult when they hit their first birthday. All throughout their adult lives they should be fed only twice daily.
One important thing you need to do is to ensure that the food that you are giving to your cat has the best nutritional value for their specific breed, lifestyle and health.
Although it is up to you whether you prefer canned or dry food, your cat needs protein, vitamins, enzymes, taurine, minerals, fatty acids and water so that they can stay both happy and healthy. Always check with your vet first if you notice abnormal behavior in your cat, whether they are always hungry or not eating enough.
You may be interested : Is Dog Food Bad For Cats ?
Keep an eye on your cat’s behavior
Cat’s generally display some sort of habitual behavior around mealtimes, which includes meowing, rubbing their tail against your leg, and wandering where their food is kept. But keep in mind that cats are not as motivated by food like dogs are and should not be acting hungry all the time and begging or whining for food between meals.
Although keeping an eye on your cat’s behavior and watching how much they are eating is crucial, you should also look out for other signs that may indicate a potential underlying problem, such as increased thirst, abnormal weight gain or loss, frequent urination, diarrhea and vomiting.
Regardless if it’s due to physical or psychological health issues, it is important that you find out the cause of the problem as soon as you notice that they are overeating. Underlying issues aside, an increased appetite can have a dangerous effect on your cat’s health and wellbeing in the long term.
There are many causes to appetite loss
Cats that, despite overeating, never gain weight may be suffering form an underlying condition, some of the more common causes of an increased appetite are:
This condition causes a huge increase in your cat’s appetite because its body burns too many calories too fast. Hyperthyroidism is caused by an increase in production of hormones and results in cats using their energy way too quickly. While it is generally seen in middle aged or older cats, these symptoms are subtle. Luckily once diagnosed, hyperthyroidism is easily treatable.
Intestinal parasites, most commonly referred to as worms, feed off of what your cat eats in a day and steals most of the nutrition from it. This explains why your cat still feels hungry after it eats, since they are getting very little amounts of their needed nutrients.
Regardless of this, a cat that has a worm infestation may even look like it’s gained weight as the parasites can cause their body to swell. One of the most common ways for a cat to get worms is by eating infected fleas and hunting diseased animals.
Similarly to us humans, cats will also eat to cope with some psychological issues such as loneliness, grief, boredom and depression. If you think that your cat’s ever-present hunger is caused due to psychological issues rather than physical, try petting, gentle play and reassuring it before mealtimes to see if their eating habits improve. Read more : 9 Cat Enrichment Ideas to Keep Your Cat Happy.
Only if all other options have been ruled out and your cat still displays hunger, your vet will suggest testing it for cancer. Some of the reasons why cats with cancer can have an increased appetite and weight loss can be changes in metabolism, the body’s natural response to the condition, or tumors in the intestines.
So long as your cat’s weight is stable enough and they are not actively displaying any worrying symptoms, you are most likely dealing with a normal cat with an enormous love for food. But if you are still concerned about your feline friend’s eating habits then it’s best to keep track of their weight and of course, consult with your vet.