Why is your cat always hungry? He has his reasons for constantly begging for food, and one of them isn’t to be a pest! Hyperthyroidism and diabetes can both make cats so hungry they want to eat nonstop, although they’re losing weight. A bored cat is always hungry, too. And take a look at your cat’s food. Some ingredients, like beet pulp, leave cats always feeling hungry. Keep reading, and I’ll tell you what to do about your nagging, hungry cat.
Why is my cat always hungry, Thomasina? Every time I go into the kitchen, he’s right there. He gets into the trash, my food and anything left on the counter. What’s wrong with him?? — Frustrated
I’m sorry your cat’s annoying you so much. I’ll be glad to tell you why your cat is always hungry. But first, has he seen a vet recently?
Unregulated diabetes and hyperthyroidism could be two reasons why your cat is always hungry. Worms can make cats hungry all the time, too. Ugh. But at least they’re easy to treat. Get the medicine from your vet though. Over-the-counter dewormers aren’t always safe for cats.
Assuming he’s in good health, here are three reasons why your cat’s always hungry.
1. His Feeding Schedule Could Explain Why Your Cat Is Always Hungry
You might already know this. We’re descended from desert wild cats (I think that’s just so cool!), and our bodies really haven’t changed that much. Our ancestors ate mostly rodents, snakes (ugh) and insects when they could catch them. So they ate several small meals a day.
While domesticated cats don’t often eat mice (I don’t eat them ever) and bugs (Yuck! I don’t eat them either), instinct still tells us we need several small meals a day. Cats who eat portions determined by humans on a schedule determined by humans tend to obsess about food and try to eat everything they can get their paws on.
What To Do: If you feed your cat limited portions on a set schedule, consider free feeding wet food. He might gorge himself for the first few days. But it won’t take him long to realize food is always available and settle into his own schedule of several small meals a day. Wet food doesn’t go bad if it’s left out in a dish for several hours. We’re still nibbling our leftovers from breakfast!
Don’t worry about him gaining weight! Unless he’s bored or has a health problem, he’ll eat just the amount of food he needs to maintain his energy level. If you’re concerned, get him a timed feeder, so he can have several small meals a day.
2. If Your Cat Is Always Hungry, Look At The Ingredients In His Food
Cats are obligate carnivores, and we need protein from animal sources. So looking at the ingredients in his food could tell you why your cat is always hungry. It’s possible that his food contains ingredients his body can’t actually use.
The worst offenders are weight loss and senior recipes, which contain beet pulp and powdered cellulose, or both. In case you’re wondering what it is, powdered cellulose is refined wood pulp. No wonder cats who eat a whole bowlful of food with that stuff in it still think they’re starving. Both beet pulp and powdered cellulose add bulk to food and are supposed to make cats feel full. But they don’t. Corn is another ingredient that can leave cats feeling hungry.
What To Do: Check the labels on your cat’s food, and think mouse. A mouse is about 40-45 percent protein, three percent carbohydrate and 40-45 percent fat, veterinary endocrinologist Deborah Greco says. She says that’s about right for an adult cat.
If your cat is getting the amount of animal protein he needs to feel full and energetic, he should stop nagging you for food.
3. A Bored Or Depressed Cat Is Always Hungry
Do you reach for the chocolate when you’re bored or depressed? That bowl of kibble is your cat’s comfort food when he can’t think of anything to do but eat and sleep. And withholding food won’t solve the problem. But it could make it worse.
What To Do: Make sure your cat’s environment is interesting and stimulating, especially if he lives strictly indoors. Here are some things to consider:
♦ Leave some blinds and curtains open so he can see outside. Attaching a birdfeeder to the window will make his view of the outdoors even more interesting. And open a window a bit so he can get some fresh air.
♦ Give him some interesting toys that he can play with by himself. The Turboscratcher is one of our favorites. We also love our wide scratching pads, these feeders that look and feel like mice and our all-time fav, Yeowww Catnip fish.
♦ Set aside some time in the morning and evening just for him. Put away your phone, turn off your computer, and concentrate on your cat. The undivided attention while you play, brush or snuggle will give both of you a boost. Fishing pole and wand toys are especially fun.
♦ Get him outside in a harness and leash (this one is very cute!) or cat stroller. This will be fun for both of you, too. And nothing can cheer you up faster than some sunshine and fresh air. When you’re shopping for a harness, look for one with a Velcro closure. The ones with plastic buckles are difficult to fit correctly.
Ways To End The Nuisance Factor
Some cats like to get into things, no matter how much attention they get or what and when they eat. If you live with one of those, there are ways to reduce the nuisance factor. Compromise is the key word here.
If your cat is constantly getting into the trash, secure your trash can so he can’t open it or put it in the pantry or some other place where he can’t get to it. Rinse everything thoroughly, so he’s not attracted to the smell of food. Aside from the mess he makes, there are things in the trash that are dangerous for him to eat.
Put all your food, including loaves of bread, away, too. Don’t leave anything on the counter for him to play with or taste test. And while you’re preparing your food, give him a little something to nibble. A dish of treats or a bite of wet food will keep him busy and happy.
I hope this helps, Frustrated. If you’ll excuse me, I need to head for the kitchen now. All this dictation made me hungry, and I believe there’s some wet food left in our bowls. I just hope Soda didn’t eat all the tuna!
Hey, while you’re here, check out these posts on cats and food.