Have you ever thought, “Why is my cat always hungry?” You’re not alone. As a cat guardian, you know that a cat who won’t eat for a day or so means a trip to the vet. But did you know that a cat who is always hungry can be a sign of health problems, both physical and psychological? Here are some answers to the question, “Why is my cat always hungry?”
1. Your cat has worms
Is your cat always hungry? Roundworms can mean a cat who is always hungry, because the worms are taking all the nutrition from his food before he can get it. Ironically, a roundworm-infested cat may look fat, as the parasites cause his body to swell.
Roundworms are contagious to humans, so if you suspect your cat has them, bring a fecal sample to your vet to have it tested.
2. Your cat has hyperthyroidism or diabetes
These diseases both cause a vast increase in appetite: hyperthyroidism does so because your cat’s metabolism is burning too many calories, and diabetes because your cat’s body can’t convert sugar to energy — and the nutrition doesn’t even get into his body in the first place. If your cat is always hungry, eating constantly and still losing weight, and especially if he’s also drinking a lot of water, get him to the vet as soon as possible.
3. Your cat is bored or lonely
A simple answer to, “Why is my cat always hungry?” Just like humans, some cats will eat because they’re bored. The solution to this problem is to provide your cat with more stimulation and to stop leaving kibble out for him to munch on, or free feeding him, all day. If you want to have a supply of food available, provide it in puzzle toys, which will make your cat work for his meal. This will help him burn calories and keep his mind engaged.
Be sure to provide other intellectually-stimulating toys (or maybe even a kitty friend) to keep his mind off his dish. You can also buy automatic feeders, which provide access to a set amount of food at set times of day.
4. Your cat is depressed
Is your cat always hungry? As in humans, overeating can be a self-soothing behavior for cats who are depressed or grieving. I’ve seen this happen: I once met a couple who had a cat they’d exiled to the basement after their baby was born. In response, the cat started eating to self-soothe, and the result was incredibly sad.
If your cat is depressed, try drawing him out of his shell with gentle interactive play. Give him “love blinks” — close your eyes slowly, leave them closed for a second, and then open them slowly, while thinking “I love you.”
5. Your cat’s food isn’t meeting his nutritional needs
You know how when you eat fast food, you’re usually hungry an hour later no matter how much you ate? Unsurprisingly, another answer to, “Why is my cat always hungry?” is that poor-quality cat food can have the same effect on your cat. And like a person who eats a lot of fast food or who can only afford starchy foods, your cat will eat and eat because he can’t satisfy the true hunger (for nutrients) at the root of his desire to eat.
Another thing to remember when wondering, “Why is my cat always hungry?”
Cats’ stomachs are extremely small: a couple of tablespoons of canned or raw food or (not and) a third of a cup of kibble per feeding is about all a cat needs to stay fit and healthy. Of course, if your cat is a 20-pound Maine Coon, he’ll need a lot more food than a petite Singapura, so be sure to work with your vet to figure out the most appropriate amount to feed your feline friend.
Tell us: Is your cat always hungry? How did you solve the issue?
This piece was originally published in 2015.
Thumbnail: Photography ©Ukususha | Thinkstock.