If you’ve ever had cats, you might already know that they tend to be picky eaters, in a very similar way to children. Needless to say that each cat or kitten needs a balanced diet which is high in vitamins, minerals and fats. This way you can guarantee that they’ll be able to fight any illnesses or infections, and will stay as happy and healthy as you intend.
Most owners ensure that their cat’s nutritional needs are met, however what happens when their behaviour suddenly changes? When a cat abruptly turns ravenous, the best course of action is to make an appointment with your veterinarian in order for them to further investigate the issue.
In this article we will have a look at the underlying causes which may trigger this change in appetite. Regardless if you feel that switching your cat’s diet would help, this may not address the root cause, thus still consult with your vet!
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Reasons My Cat Seems To Be Hungry All The Time
So let’s start from the beginning. Your cat could be hungry for a variety of reasons, and you have to take into consideration your pet’s lifestyle. On the one hand, changes in weather (e.g. during winter times) can influence your cat’s eating habits. This means that your fluffy friend might need more calories in order to keep warm and sustain its energy levels during such periods.
On the other hand, certain physiological causes can also be at the root of the problem, particularly an increase in the exercise level (unlikely in older cats) or pregnancy. In addition, a diet which is not high enough in nutrients may not be able to provide your cat with all the vitamins it needs.
There are also behavioural causes, for example if you own more than one cat, there could be an ongoing competition between them. More specifically, if one cat is not eating enough whilst other cats are around, the one which is not getting a proper diet may become ravenous when alone.
Appetite might also be influenced by certain medicines (e.g. steroids, anti-seizure medication), and these changes can happen overnight. This doesn’t always give you the opportunity to acknowledge the excessive behaviour, however be patient as sooner or later you’ll spot the differences.
But What if None of That Applies to My Cat?
If you’ve already investigated the above mentioned probable causes, then it might just be that your cat or kitten might unfortunately have an underlying disease. According to research, there are five typical conditions which are linked to increased appetite:
- Parasite Infestation. Your cat’s hunger might come as a result of its intestine being full of worms! If you’re already a bit grossed out, I’ll further surprise you by saying that worms can be contracted by cats eating their live hunt, or because of fleas. So if outdoor supervision is not an option for you, at least make sure to administer a spot-on or chew flea treatment.
- Inflammatory Bowel Problems Digestive problems may cause your cat or kitten to not absorb the necessary nutrients it needs on a daily basis. A normal response to such an issue includes overeating, used as a defense mechanism in trying to compensate for the lack of vitamins the body is experiencing.
- Diabetes Mellitus. In a very similar way to humans, your kitten’s blood sugar level can spike, making it nearly impossible for cells to use the fuel taken from food. This happens because diabetes generally prevents the organs or muscles from transforming glucose into energy. The end result is that your cat will be constantly hungry. If you’re at all worried about this possibility, look out for any other warning signs which point to diabetes (weight loss, urination), but always consult your veterinarian before adopting a course of action.
- Hyperthyroidism (most commonly occurring in elderly cats). This disease makes its appearance when the cat’s thyroid gland becomes overactive and starts generating thyroxine. This can lead to excessive hunger (due to an increased metabolism), weight loss, and in some extreme cases heart failure if left untreated.
- Cancer. The sad reality is not only humans suffer from such conditions, and cancerous parasites can eat up all the food consumed by your cat. Subsequently, your pet needs more and more food in order to sustain its energy levels.
Dangers of Excessive Hunger
Now that we understand the potential reasons for which your cat might be hungry all the time, let’s have a look at the dangers of overfeeding your pet. First of all, by providing excessive amounts of food you are encouraging a pattern of behaviour which may eventually become stressful for you.
In addition, over-stimulating cats through food can also lead to them eating non-food items, and being extremely demanding in terms of attention and rewards. Since the causes vary from physiological to psychological or even biological, it’s ideal to actually arrange a meeting with your veterinarian. They might be able to suggest if reducing the cat’s exposure to stress or boredom is needed, or if medication would help.
What Should I Do?
First and foremost, you should rule out any of the physiological causes that I’ve mentioned above, ensuring that your pet has a high quality diet, rich in nutrients and vitamins, and that pregnancy is not a possibility. Secondly, you need to check that your cat has no worms, and that any flea problems are kept under bay.
Finally, your vet needs to be fully informed about the eating habits of your cat so they can do a full check-up. Some conditions such as diabetes and hyperthyroidism can be spotted by simply taking a blood test, whilst cancer and more serious illnesses can still be managed with the help of innovative modern medicines.
To sum up, I’ve revealed many reasons for which your cat may always be hungry. Sudden changes in behaviour may be hard to spot at first, however in time they will become obvious. For example, if your cat is eating so fast that he vomits afterwards, or he accepts food immediately after eating or even resorts to stealing your food, you may need to consider that something is not going right.
As mentioned before, you’ll first need to rule out the more simple reasons for such behaviours (e.g. low-quality diet), however if problems persist consult with your veterinarian. They will be able to pinpoint what’s going on, and provide you with some piece of mind.
Remember: a happy cat means a happy owner!