cat urinary health

My Cat Won’t Stop Eating

Cats can be exceptionally greedy. In the wild, their instincts tell them to eat as much as they can when there’s plenty of food available. But if your cat won’t stop eating, it could be another problem.

Why won’t my cat stop eating? Cats can eat too much because of intestinal parasites like worms, depression and boredom, or because they’re sick. To stop your cat eating too much, make sure their food is nutritionally complete and feed smaller meals. It will take time for your pet to get used to going on a cat diet, but there’s little else you can do.

There’s a big difference between your cat being hungry and eating too much. Your cat may yowl a lot because it’s used to eating more, but if it’s fat, it will have lots of fat to burn—so it won’t get too hungry.

There are many conditions which can have your cat heading to the food bowl more than usual. So, we have put together a list with all of the most common potential causes behind your cat’s eating behaviors. If your cat is eating a lot and they need to stop, read on to find out how to help!

My Cat Is Eating A Lot: What’s the Problem?

You might not necessarily see it as a problem if your cat is eating a lot. After all, it’s better than them not eating at all, right? Actually, wrong. From diabetes to hyperthyroidism to worms, there are many reasons why your cat may constantly appear hungry. If your cat won’t stop gorging itself when it used to be happy with a regular meal, there could be a problem.

Cause 1: Worms

cat is eating a lot
If a cat is eating a lot, consider where else it may be getting its meals. Rabbits outside, for example! Image from Wikimedia

Your cat is susceptible to the infestation of many types of worms and other parasites. Roundworm is the number one likely cause behind a cat’s insatiable hunger. The worms will be taking in all of the nutrition your cat intakes from their meals. That leaves them lacking in much-needed nutrients. So, the worms will be well fed whilst your cat still feels the hunger. It is important to pay close attention to your cats eating habits for this reason. If a cat is eating a lot, it may be trying to replace the nutrients lost to parasites.

Even though your cat will be starved of the nutrients, the parasites will cause your cat’s stomach to swell and distend. Ironically that makes them appear fat when they’re starving. Roundworms can be treated with a simple worming treatment. It is important to treat roundworm quickly as roundworms are also dangerous to humans. With a simple fecal sample test, the roundworm can be round up and dealt with.

Cause 2: Depression

Not all insatiable appetites are due to physical problems. Depression can also be a common culprit when it comes to a cat’s enlarged appetite. Just as with people, cats can become depressed for many reasons. They ultimately use overeating as a coping mechanism for their grief or depression. If no obvious changes have happened in your household which you can blame for your cat’s depression, try to think back to when the problem occurred. Did anything change for you or them at at home?

Cats are highly sensitive creatures, the slightest change in their routine or yours can make them become depressed. Cats can often be susceptible to depression when they are grieving one of their feline friends. So, make sure you take care of your cat’s emotional needs with interactive play and grooming.

For further information on feline depression and how you can help your cat beat the blues, take some advice from leading pet psychologist Michael S. Garvey.

Cause 3: Boredom

If your cat has relatively little to do other than head to the food bowl, boredom may be the reason behind your cat’s increased appetite. This is most likely to affect indoor cats or those who have relatively little interaction with their owners. Whilst it isn’t always feasible for you to let your cat outside, or to be with them constantly there are still ways of keeping them happy and entertained.

Cat toys are the perfect way to ensure that your cat stays stimulated and doesn’t end up using food to self-soothe for comfort. Puzzle toys are the perfect way to ensure your cat stays fed and stimulated. If you believe that your cat is overeating due to boredom, don’t leave dry food available constantly, make them work for it and lose those extra pounds. For more guidance on cat toys, check out our expert cat toy guide which will help you to determine what your cat will go for. Literally.

Cause 4: Diabetes or Hyperthyroidism

Both medical conditions can result in an increase in your cat’s appetite, but thankfully, both conditions are manageable with the correct care and treatment. Hyperthyroidism affects your cat’s metabolism and will cause your cat to burn too many calories even with a relatively small intake of nutrients. In turn, they will eat more often to replace the depleted energy.

Diabetes can cause an increase in appetite, as diabetes is simply an inability to convert sugar into energy normally. This means that the nutrition won’t get into the body in the first place. Usually, when it comes to diabetes or hyperthyroidism your cat will also be drinking a lot more water. If these symptoms are accompanied by a loss in weight and body mass, contact your vet as soon as possible.

What to Do When Your Cat Is Eating A Lot

Option 1: Make Sure Your Cat’s Food Meets Their Nutrition Needs

You may have noticed with your own diet that when you eat fast food, highly processed food or junk food you will feel hungry immediately after. Which is what can happen to cats when fed poor-quality cat food. Remember that your cat’s true hunger boils down to their hunger for the nutrients, not just a desire to eat. If your cat is eating a lot of the wrong food, it’s as bad for them as McDonald’s every night is for you.  Higher quality cat foods will be able to satisfy your cat’s true hunger and generally, canned or wet food is denser in nutrients. If you’re worried about cost, just remember that they’ll need less wet food than they’ll need dry food. It roughly ends up costing the same!

Smaller Meals May Help If Your Cat Is Eating A Lot

cat is eating a lot
When a cat is eating a lot, serving them smaller meals may help. Even if they stare at you like this! Image from Pexels

You may also want to try feeding your cat in smaller meal sizes throughout the day and only leave food down for a short period of time. Free feeding may be okay with some cats, but for others, it can become problematic quite quickly. You may need to prepare for your cat becoming particularly vocal once you stop free feeding them. In the end, however, cats will accept a new routine so long as it’s consistent.

Your cat’s stomach is extremely small, which is why it is important to feed cats small meals multiple times a day. One-third of a cup of kibble and two tablespoons of wet or raw food per meal is all it takes for a cat to stay fit and healthy. However, your cat’s nutritional requirements will fall down to their size, age, and breed. You can make a rough estimate for yourselves by calculating your cat’s daily requirements. Typically, a cat will need between 25 and 30 calories for each pound of their body mass. So a ten-pound cat will require a 300 calorie daily diet. Calorific intakes should always be reduced if your cat is overweight.

We’ve covered more on cat food here. If you’re struggling to find the appropriate amount to feed your cat, consult with your vet. They will be able to give the best guidance when it comes to your cat’s specific dietary needs.

Option 2: Make Them Work for Their Food

Free feeding can make it all too easy for cats to pile on the pounds. That’s why interactive puzzle balls which dispense food are a perfect idea. Rather than having your cat gorging from their food bowl, give them an opportunity to lose a few calories while they interact and play with their feeders. It might mean you end up with the odd errant piece of kibble around your home. For a happy and healthy cat, though, it is more than worth it!

If you’ve already tried puzzle feeders and your cat doesn’t seem overly fond of the idea, invest in other toys and ways to entertain your cat. No one expects you to be at home playing with your cat 24/7. That’s why there are plenty of options when it comes to toys your cat can enjoy when you’re not at home.

Option 3: Head To The Vets

If you’ve assessed both your cat’s physical and psychological needs by looking at their diet and the amount of stimulate you provide them, and you still can’t work out the issue, it’s time for plan B. That means a trip to the vets. The two main conditions which cause an increased appetite in cats are diabetes and hyperthyroidism. Because of that, you’ll want to ensure that your cat receives treatment before any secondary symptoms start to manifest. Whilst treatment for diabetes may last the duration of your cat’s lifespan, there’s no reason why a cat with diabetes can live a long and happy life with the appropriate care.

To diagnose a medical condition as the cause of your cat’s increase in appetite, your vet may want to run blood work, a urinalysis and samples of their fecal matter. Your vet is also likely to be interested in looking at the functioning of your cat’s liver and kidney. You should prepare to have these tests ran on your cat. In very rare cases the increase in appetite could fall down to insulin-producing tumors. There’s probably a less serious reason why your cat is eating a lot, but it’s good to be aware of all possibilities.

If there is a medical condition present, your cat will have to undergo dietary changes. It may also need to take oral medication. Your vet will set you up with a thorough home-treatment plan for the best chances of avoiding a repeat problem. The diet plan may need to be life long for your cat. You should also consider having 6 monthly or annual check-ups with your vet. That’s the best way to ensure your cat is as healthy as possible!