Does your cat start howling for food as soon as your feet hit the floor in the morning? Do they bolt into the kitchen every time you use the can opener?
While a few extra pounds can make your cat especially huggable, if unchecked, your cat’s growing weight could become a problem. With a food-obsessed cat, you can count on future health issues, not to mention the nuisance that comes with a demanding pet.
Fortunately, once you understand the reasons behind your cat’s food obsession, you can take steps to discourage their binge-eating.
YOUR FOOD OBSESSED CAT MAY HAVE A MEDICAL CONDITION
An underlying medical condition such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, parasites, or worms could be the culprit behind your cat’s ravenous appetite.
While an increase in appetite may be a simple response to boredom or stress, there are accompanying symptoms to look for that signify a more serious medical issue, such as:
- Increased thirst
- Protruding Belly
- Dramatic Weight Gain
A dramatic increase in your cat’s appetite warrants a trip to the vet. If they receive a clean bill of health, your cat’s food obsession might be the result of a psychological issue, rather than a physical one.
YOUR CAT’S INSTINCTS COULD BE FUELING THEIR FOOD OBSESSION
In the wild, cats are accustomed to hunting and eating multiple times per day. When your cat realizes that food is not freely available to hunt, they’ll learn to consume large amounts of food in one sitting. This obsessive gorging can lead to major health complications.
Since cats are biologically programmed to consume smaller meals throughout the day, try mimicking their natural eating patterns.
Don’t leave out a bowl of food 24/7 because some cats will binge eat every time you refill their dish. Instead, schedule multiple mealtimes. Consider purchasing a timed cat feeder. Or try a “food puzzle” to satisfy your cat’s natural predatory instincts.
YOUR CAT’S DIET MAY BE NUTRITIONALLY DEFICIENT
Low-quality cat food may not provide the nutrients your cat requires. If your cat’s food is not meeting their nutritional needs, they will eat obsessively to try to satisfy their hunger.
Examine your cat’s food. Read the label and check how nutritionally-rich (or deficient) it is. Does it have the proper amount of protein? How about vitamins? Consult with your vet to make sure your cat is getting the vitamins and proteins they need to thrive. Your vet will help you determine your cat’s ideal body weight, as well as the amount of food they should eat to maintain that weight.
YOUR CAT MIGHT BE BORED, LONELY, OR DEPRESSED
Just as humans overeat during heightened emotional states, cats can use food as a self-soothing tool. Cats may become obsessed with food if they are depressed, stressed, or simply bored.
Some cats have even been diagnosed with “psychogenic abnormal eating disorder,” a psychological condition that boosts their drive for food.
Ease your cat’s nerves by removing stressors from the home (i.e. loud music, shouting, or excessive touching).
If your cat is overeating because they’re bored, incorporate more structured playtime into her routine. Increase your cat’s activity through stimulating toys like food puzzles or a food-dispensing cat toy. These will slow down an obsessive eater while helping her burn more calories and keeping her mind engaged. You can even go the DIY route by punching holes into a plastic bottle and filling it with kibbles.
Be sure to give your cat plenty of attention. Her persistent meowing could be a desire for your affection rather than a request for food.
THERE ARE WAYS TO HELP YOUR FOOD OBSESSED CAT
One final solution:
Ignore your cat’s begging. When they meow excessively or rub up against you, don’t reward this behavior with food. It’s equally important to avoid responding negatively because they’ll learn that this behavior gets your attention. When they beg, just ignore them.
Long-term overeating can lead to serious health complications for cats. If your cat is hungry all the time, talk to your vet about what could be driving their insatiable appetite.
Is your cat an overly enthusiastic eater? Tell us about your experiences in the comments!
Written by Liz Colemen