Why is My Cat Always Hungry But Skinny

(Last Updated On: July 30, 2022)

According to many people’s expectations, people that eat more are supposed to gain weight. This is not different when it comes to a cat or any other animal. Your cat might be overeating or might have a good appetite but still stay very lean. But, if you are a cat owner and worried about your cat being skinny even though he eats a lot, understand that a lot of things influence this.

Different factors from parasitic worms like hookworms, tapeworms, and roundworms can lead to your cat losing weight since worms tend to feed on the food the cats can eat. Other medical conditions like inflammatory diseases, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism can also all interfere with food absorption. Just to be sure, confirm that another animal or pet isn’t eating your cat’s food.

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Why your cat is hungry all the time but still skinny?

Your cat’s appetite and eating habits can be a result of various reasons, which fall into three; food problems, psychological issues, and illnesses. There is also a medical term known as polyphagia associated with excessive hunger or increased appetite.

Hunger can be caused by psychological and physical factors, and thus the actual cause of polyphagia to cat isn’t really known.

A bored or lonely cat cannot stop asking for food while he only seeks attention. Others are addicted to the sensory pleasure of eating, which stimulates and enriches them. Overeating due to psychological factors often leads them to pile on the pounds. To understand more about what factors affect why your cat is hungry all the time and still not gain weight, below are some reasons.

Psychological Reasons

A healthy cat with no illness that eats all the time but still looking skinny might indicate psychological problems. A cat that’s bored due to lack of proper stimulation through activities like playing, exercise, and interaction with his humans often redirect his need for stimulation to food.

While the whole idea is stimulation, some cats end up addicted to food, and since you give them a lot of attention, they keep begging for food. Also, a cat from an abusive environment often requires time to adapt due to the developed food insecurity. Most of the time, the cat may quickly gulp down his food to prevent another cat from stealing his food.

Eating Routine Problems

Check your cat’s feeding routine

and ensure that you aren’t skipping any mealtime. Since they are creatures of habit in the same way cats love their privacy, they also love consistency. When it comes to their feeding times, you should follow their eating schedule to ensure that they are getting full. This will also prevent them from stealing your food or crying out due to extreme hunger.

The best feeding schedule for kittens is at least thrice a day which is recommended for their growth and acquiring the necessary nutrients for energy. When they get to around six months, you can reduce the feeding time to twice a day. Once they are adults, they can feed twice a day or once a day, depending on their nutritional requirements or health status. For a healthy cat, feeding him once a day should be enough.

Having a feeding time will also train your cat when it’s time to eat. If you notice that your cat’s hunger is too much, check how regularly you are feeding it. Don’t feed your cat small portions after every few hours since this will disrupt their feeding routine and could be causing your cat to may be experiencing hunger pangs. Also, don’t worry and wait for hours and hours for a meal. Ensure that there is a balance between the times you feed your cat to prevent them from developing psychogenic abnormality feeding behavior, which causes them to steal food or binge eat.

Food Quantity and Quality

In addition to the quantity, the quality of cat food you buy has a major impact on your cat’s health and feeding. When it comes to quantity, any calorie deficit can affect how genuinely hungry your cat becomes and its appetite. You need to ensure that you are feeding it enough.

The number of calories in your cat’s food might be enough, but if the food lacks essential nutrients, this can cause your cat to develop incessant food cravings. The cat food should be of high quality and provide enough calories. Your cat should get enough vitamins to keep him sated and healthy. Sufficient quantities of nutrients and minerals like iron, magnesium, and vitamin B12, are very important.

An average of 200 kcal per day should be enough for a kitten and around 250-280 kcal per day for adult cats. But, for an ill cat or pregnant cat, the caloric requirement might have to be higher to enable it to get the required energy. Check if your cat is in heat.

The type of food you buy, whether wet or dry can also determine the calorie intake. Wet cat food tends to have high water content. This makes them a good choice for a cat with certain health conditions that require a higher water intake, like lower urinary tract disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or digestive disorders.

In general, if you want calorie-dense food, dry types like dry kibble is better compared to wet food. Always check the nutritional information on the cat food package to know what you are feeding your cat.

Environmental Factors

A conducive environment is detrimental to your cat’s upbringing and growth. Your cat might stop eating because there are other cats that eat their food. It might also be as a result of environmental distractions within his eating environment, like the presence of a more dominant cat.

Within the hierarchy of cats, there are cats at the top of the hierarchy and others who are low on the hierarchy. A cat positioned low on the hierarchy may be eating less than he needs to. It is also possible that there are dominant cats stealing his food.

In cases where you have more than one cat within the same environment or space, it’s best to keep the cats separated while eating. It’s also recommended to have each cat eating from their own bowl, allowing them to enjoy their meals in peace.  Also, consider placing their Lusmo pet feeder far from external distractions like noises from outside, which might be distracting them.

Illness and Medical Conditions

Illness can completely drain your cat affecting their body weight and appetite. An ill cat will lose weight while having a high appetite, mostly due to diseases that cause polyphagia.

Diseases that interfere with a cat’s digestive tract, hormones and cat’s metabolism can drastically affect your cat’s body weight causing them to lose weight. With the effective treatments, your cat should be back to their normal feeding routine with enough food and overcome being underweight. Some medical conditions that can cause your cat to remain stuck in the same weight despite eating lots of foods include

Diabetes

Your cat needs to be energetic, and this requires ample glucose in the cells. With glucose/sugar present, insulin can enter the body. The cells inside your cat’s body need sugar. In turn, glucose/sugar needs insulin which is produced by the pancreas to enter a cell to enable absorption of sugar. It allows the uptake of sugar from food and converts it into usable energy.

However, when a cat suffers from diabetes, it prevents them from utilizing dietary sugar for energy since there’s no insulin. Diabetic cats display signs of increased hunger since their cells cannot break down and use glucose/sugar for energy, so what their consuming can’t put on any weight. Instead, they would crave extra food to compensate for their lack of energy. Apart from being hungry all the time, diabetic cats also show increased thirst and increased urination. All these three signs in your cat, especially in a middle-aged to older felines are dangerous signs, and don’t delay, a veterinarian should be consulted immediately.

A vet should be able to run a blood test and urinalysis to see if there’s increased blood and urine glucose. In most cases, a vet would recommend insulin therapy, a change in diet to a high-protein diet, and its injections twice a day. These treatments aim at restoring normal sugar levels as well as minimizing or eliminating any diabetes symptoms

Cancer

Cancer can result in a lack of proper absorption of nutrients into your cat’s body, causing them to beg for more food to compensate. While this might not cause your cat to be skinny, you will notice some unusual physical changes or something wrong with your cat. For example, a tumor in the gastrointestinal tract can make a feline ravenous, and the cat cannot absorb food and impairs its digestion.

Tumors in other parts of the body can cause the over-secretion of hormones like IGF-1 making your cat burn more energy than usual. As your cat uses up more energy, they’ll need to eat more to supplement. Sadly, it’s difficult to detect cancerous cats, especially felines, since they can mask their pain. The best way is to check your cat for common symptoms such as diarrhea, lethargy or vomiting and consult the veterinary for further examination.

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Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a tumor of the thyroid gland which causes an overactive thyroid gland leading to excessive thyroid hormone production. Hyperthyroidism quite common in cats that lose weight. But, even with an increased appetite, your cat should be ravenously hungry but not skinny. It’s also great to look out for signs like diarrhea, vomiting, hyperactivity and panting and visit the vet in case you worry if your cat is having this to also check their thyroid hormone. In addition to these, a cat will show other symptoms like increased thirst and urination. Make sure to observe when your cat goes outside to see if it has these symptoms.

Some of these symptoms resemble those of diseases like diabetes, kidney failure, and intestinal cancer and therefore, it’s best to consult a vet especially when your cat is losing weight. Hyperthyroidism can sometimes be managed by taking daily medications like Methimazole, though curative surgery like removal of the thyroid gland or radioactive iodine therapy are also possible treatment options. Any cat will be affected by hyperthyroidism but older felines are more susceptible to it due to excess amounts of the T4 hormone in the affected cat.

FIBD

Feline inflammatory bowel disease (FIBD) is a condition in cats that makes the gastrointestinal tract chronically irritated and inflamed. These include bowel parts like the tummy, colon, intestines, and esophagus. As a result, the inflammation interferes with the absorption of food, causing a cat to excrete loose and watery cat’s stools.

Since no nutritious substance is fully absorbed into the body, and there’s so much water that is lost, your cat may become unusually hungry. While FIBDs’ cause is not yet known to scientists, they associate it with genetics, particularly common in older cats and cats with certain genetic predispositions. Bacteria, food allergies, parasites, and stress, are also considered to be possible causes.

Parasitic Worms

Another possible reason your cat might always be hungry is intestinal parasites. Parasitic worms like roundworms, hookworms, and other worms are major culprits. Parasite worms like roundworms are common, especially in kittens. They are usually passed from the mother through the milk.

Adult cats mostly have tape worms. Most worms can enter your cat’s body through fleas and their interaction with other animals in your house. They then start feeding off of your cat’s food, taking up all the essential nutrients your cat needs. This can affect your cat’s weight and eating habits.

Your cat will ask for food more frequently or in larger quantities since they are sharing food with these little creatures and aren’t satiated. Any signs of worms in your cat’s feces or vomit should be taken seriously. Visit a professional vet and get your cat examined. Based on the diagnosis and parasite worm found, a vet will know which treatment to use.

cat asking for food

Curbing your cat’s overeating tendencies

Before you determine whether your cat might just be gluttonous, check their health. If he is healthy and doesn’t have any illness, then overeats, you will have to prevent this from happening. Too much food will lead to obesity and also make him vulnerable to diseases.

To combat the excessive eating, start with one of the following eating schedules. Do not fall into their trap even when they beg for food. Cats will easily adapt to routines, and you can also train him to eat only during certain times.

Also, check the food quality to ensure your cat is getting the necessary nutritious substance. Though high-quality cat food doesn’t come cheap, it’s best that your cat eats healthy. If there are any other pets, consider making them eat separately to reduce stress in each of your pets. Play with your cat more often to reduce boredom.

cat with increased appetite

Conclusion

Always keep a close eye on your cat’s health. Take your feline friend for healthy check-ups to point out a solution to any underlying health issues and determine the best nutrients they need to thrive.

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