Does it seem like your cat wants to eat all the time? It doesn’t matter to them when you last fed them, does your your cat wants food? Do you have a food obsessed cat?
If you are wondering “Why does my cat eat so much?, it is a common eating problem, or should we say “a feature” of cats. In this article, we are going to discuss possible causes and, most important, solutions for addressing increased appetite in cats (also known as polyphagia). There are reasons that your hungry cat wants to eat all the time.
Remember, polyphagia itself is not a disease. It’s a symptom of either a behavioral or medical issue. To resolve these issues, you must find the source.
Why is my cat hungry all the time?
Have your veterinarian give your cat thorough physical exam. Pay attention to their body weight and how it changes.
Common medical reasons that may explain why your cat is hungry all the time are worms (parasite), diabetes mellitus , overactive thyroid, a tumor, insulin shock, a metabolic disorder, and many others. It is very troubling when a cat is always hungry but skinny or worse, experiencing weight loss. If your food obsessed cat eats all the time but doesn’t experience weight gain, this is something to look into further. For example this could be a sign of intestinal parasites. Most veterinary handbooks list about 10 to 20 health conditions that may result in polyphagia. A kitten and a lactating female cat might also have an increased appetite which is normal. If your veterinarian diagnoses your cat with a parasite or other disease (gastrointestinal tract issue for example) you should follow their recommended treatment. In many cases, treating the disease is what it takes to stop your cat from being an excessive eater. But what if your cat or kitten is fine and healthy after their veterinary exam?
How many times a day should I feed my cat?
After you know there is nothing wrong with your adult cat or kitten medically, there are two more possible concerns to address.
Your cat may indeed be hungry . Ask these questions:
- Is your cat getting enough food daily?
- Are your cat’s meals spaced evenly apart from one another?
First, take a look at the label on your cat’s food (dry food or canned food). Find the correct amount to give your cat daily according to their weight (their healthy weight that is). Divide this amount into three to four meals and make sure you give them on a regular schedule.
As a concerned owner, your cat will appreciate a consistent feeding routine. Setting reminders on your phone will make meal times easier to hit. Feed your cat several meals per day at the same time. No give them a snack as you are training them as this will mess with their schedule. By following a schedule, it will create predictability for your cat. This means that if feeding times comes at a set time, there is no reason for them to beg for it before then. Of course, your cat might meow, but if you are consistent about their feeding times, their begging habit will soon stop. As cats eat meals throughout the day in the wild, filling your cats food bowl with at least three meals a day works well as a start.
If you have been “open” feeding your cat (always having a full food dish out), you have unintentionally taught your cat to eat all the time. Regular scheduled meals spread throughout the day will make both your lives more pleasant.
What to do if your cat is obsessed with food
Household cats do not need to hunt for their food. I mean it seems like they want to hunt their dry food, but that’s not really a thing. It is readily available from you. If your household cats do not have something to fill their time, they may start “hunting for food” by purring and meowing at their owners. So what should you do?
Feed your cat through playing. One tried and tested solution is feeding your cat dry food through “Environmental Enrichment”. That’s a long way to say, a “dry food dispensing cat toy”. It is a hollow toy ball with an opening. When filled with cat food, it releases the dry kibble one by one as your cat plays with it. It will make the meal time longer, give them positive reinforcement for playing with it, and will help satiate your cat’s natural hunting instincts.
Our clients have achieved excellent results, and we ourselves enjoy Catit’s “Treat Ball” and PetSafe’s “Slim Cat”.
Other options for you are food puzzles, hide-and-seek games, and, of course, the good old-fashioned “play with your cat for 10 minutes before every meal”—the latter being extremely useful, but not always convenient for cat owners.
Of course, you should not forget to provide your cat activity and attention at all the other times. There are many benefits of regular playing, petting, or even talking to your cat.
IMPORTANT: There is no rule as to how much you should play with your cat. But there is a rule that the more activity your cat gets, the less he will beg for food. Besides, playing is undoubtedly not the only activity available for your cat. See here for other activities for cats.
4. Ignore your cat’s begging for food
It is likely that the most annoying thing you find about your cat begging for food is their meowing, purring, and walking beside you all day long.
We strongly recommend you ignore you ignore your cat’s bad habit of begging for a snack.
Your cat may have developed their begging habit because they know you’ll reward this behavior for food or your attention. We’re not even talking about not feeding your cat when they meows for food or preventing your cat from stealing food in between meals.
Even shooing your cat away or petting them will only reward this behavior and give them a glimpse of hope that “My human heard me and knows I want food, so if I insist more…” Don’t let that happen.
Above all, remember that the most important thing if your cat is wants to eat all the time, is your pet’s health. Plenty of underlying health issues are associated with this behaviorso you should not take it lightly. If your cat has put on some weight, you can find how to deal with obesity in cats here.