My Cat Is Always Hungry! Is This Normal? [Causes And What You Can Do]

If you’re afraid that your cat is eating enough to put your average whale to shame, you’re in the right place.

We’ll help you keep the pounds off and prevent your kitty from becoming the next fat cat meme.

We’ll discuss reasons for your cat’s endless appetite and then talk about how to fix it.

Possible Reasons Behind Your Cat’s Constant Hunger

  • Habit eating
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Other disease like Acromegaly, Cushing’s, Cancer, Brain Trauma, Infections
  • Depression, Anxiety and/or loneliness

All of these are possible causes for your cat’s eating, but the most likely explanation is much simpler:

Your cat is hungry.

Active cats will be more hungry than lazy cats and some cat foods aren’t as filling as others. So to rule out hunger and make sure that your cat isn’t just a little peckish, let’s discuss how cat’s show that they’re hungry.

How Does Your Cat Show Signs That It’s Hungry?

High-pitched Meows

Cats are normally quiet. They aren’t usually expressive, even though they can be when they desire to. A hungry cat will usually start to cry and produce high-pitched meows.

Your cat will find you whenever you are, start meowing, and guide you over to where his or her food bowl is.

Clinging To Your Legs and Feet

Cats do this most of the time, but if you notice your cat sticking to you and meowing, there’s a good chance that your cat’s hungry.

My cat does this a lot at nights. It’s her way of telling me that she’s looking for a snack.

Hanging Out Near The Food Bowl

Some cats will remain seated next to its bowl, some even start touching it with their paws (as if the food will magically materialize out of thin air) all to draw your attention to the fact that he or she wants to be fed.

cat eat, closeup image of domestic cat eat food

What Are The Daily Nutritional Requirements for Your Cat?

Now we know how cats behave when they’re hungry. But how much do cats need to be fed every day?

Cats, on average, require about 240 calories per day. Large breeds and active cats (or large, active cats) will be needing some more. Feel free to adjust if your cat is still showing signs of getting hungry.

It’s also good to know that a normal cup of dry food is equivalent to 300 calories and that an average 6 ounce can of wet food has 250 calories. This varies by brand, so it’s good to check your cat’s food. These numbers are just rules of thumb.

Outside of cat food, you can opt for feeding your cat a variety of foods like meat, fish (although it’s not great for daily consumption), but beware that some foods can be poisonous for your cat.

(you can read my guide on what your cat can eat to make sure that you aren’t poisoning your furry pal)

The first step is to make sure that your cat has enough nutrients. If you’re feeding your cat the recommended portion of cat food (you can find this on your cat food bag or label) and he or she is still crying for some more, double check that you’re providing enough calories.

But what if you know that you’re providing enough and your cat is still crying for more?

My Cat’s Nutritional Requirements Are Fulfilled, but It’s Still Hungry!

So you do feed your cat properly, you’ve made sure that it’s getting all his or her nutrition, but he or she is still meowing for more food.

Your cat may even exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Stealing food off the dinner table or any source
  • Munching up meals in one take (cats usually like to nibble and come back to their meal later)
  • Eating food so rapidly it regurgitates it all (check out our best cat food for vomiting if that’s the case)
  • Accepting food that he or she used to hate
  • Pestering you continuously for more food even though you’ve fed him or her more than enough.

Well, there are possible causes. These causes may be due to a medical issue or a psychological one.

Medical Issues That Cause Abnormal Hunger Levels

Usually, an indicator of medical issues in cats is abrupt, unusual behavioral changes. Keep this in mind and thoroughly monitor your cat’s behavior.

Hyperthyroidism

The thyroid gland is responsible for secreting both Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3) as its 2 main hormones. These hormones play a huge role in metabolic processes.

Hyperthyroidism is characterized by an overly active thyroid gland that secretes T4 and T3 in abnormally high amounts.

This causes the following symptoms:

  • Increased metabolic rate
  • Weight loss and muscle mass loss
  • Increased appetite

Increased appetite is simply due to the body’s attempt to compensate for the abnormal elevation in the metabolic rate.

Diabetes Mellitus

This is more common in middle-aged and older cats, especially ones that have always been relying on dry food that’s loaded with carbohydrates and minimal nutritious protein content.

(most dry foods aren’t so bad, but a bad apple can spoil the bunch)

It’s not surprising that cats that rely solely on this kind of food are bound to get diabetes as they age.

The pancreas is an organ that secretes insulin hormone alongside other hormones.

Insulin has a multitude of roles, from managing blood glucose levels to introducing glucose to cells as a source of energy, as well as many others.

Diabetes is when the pancreas may no longer be able to secrete insulin efficiently as per what the body needs, or that the cells can no longer handle insulin.

This results in glucose not being delivered to body cells. Without glucose, there’s no energy. This causes the following symptoms:

  • Excessive hunger
  • Low energy levels, fatigue
  • Weight loss

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)

In EPI, the pancreas doesn’t secrete sufficient amounts of digestive enzymes. When this happens, proteins, starches, and fats from the cat’s diet aren’t broken down properly and absorbed into the intestinal wall.

gray shorthair cat and food can

The cat literally can’t get any nutrients in EPI; food consumed is simply expelled out as feces, mostly undigested.

The most common symptom is a constant, never wavering hunger spell. You’ll think your cat is trying to eat you out of house and home.

If EPI is left untreated, the cat may die from starvation even if it consumes food. If your cat’s stool looks like it has a lot of undigested food and you’re starting to worry about tapeworms, I recommend a trip to the vet.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

IBD is a condition that causes the intestines to become inflamed.

The presence of inflammation causes physiological changes in the intestine’s mucosal lining.

This ultimately leads to digestive dysfunction and the inability to properly absorb nutrients from consumed food.

Symptoms ensue:

  • Excessive hunger
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss

Other Possible Medical Issues

These are other common causes of excessive hunger.

  • Infections which cause issues with nutrient absorption
  • Intestinal parasitic infections as roundworm, tapeworm, and hookworm infection
  • Acromegaly
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Cancer or benign tumors
  • Brain trauma
  • Side-effects of medications, particularly steroids

Psychological/Psychiatric Issues

If you’ve ruled out that your cat’s safe from all these medical conditions through a vet’s visit and some tests, then the last culprit would be a psychogenic issue.

If your cat’s been eating and gaining weight, then this hunger may be attributed to one of the following.

Depression, Anxiety, and More

Maybe you haven’t been so attentive and dedicated to your cat lately due to stress or workload, your cat became lonely, depressed, bored and/or attention-starved.

Your cat may use food as a form of self-soothing method. Your cat may also tend to call for you to put some food for it even if it may not be hungry, the reason is that ‘feeding’ is the only time you’ll be truly attentive in.

Maybe you’ve been distant from your cat because you feel it doesn’t notice you or care about you?

Well, cats do convey their feelings in pretty unconventional ways, with the most popular one being the ‘Slow Blink’.

How Do I Help My Cat’s Hunger?

This depends on what the problem is. Here’s what I recommend:

Start by making sure that your cat is fulfilling his or her nutritional requirements. If you know that your cat is active or is a larger breed, then don’t be afraid to add a little bit more food to the diet. Check your cat food for recommended portion sizes and bump it up a little if you need to.

If you’re confident that your cat is getting enough food and the problem persists, it’s best to take a visit to the vet. This is even more true if your cat had a sudden change in behavior. Sudden changes can indicate some serious mishaps inside, so be smart and get that checked out.

young cat eating food from kitchen plate

Some hunger problems might be a result of habit eating or emotional issues. These are pretty hard to diagnose on your own without risking your pet, so I still recommend a visit to the veterinarian.

In Summary

Your cat is a unique creature, if it’s sick it’ll never whine like a dog. It’s hardwired never to show pain and illness unless it’s extreme and unbearable.

Excessive hunger may be accompanied by a dangerous illness, or it may be not. Look for the indicators we’ve provided, and monitor any behavioral changes like these ones we’ve mentioned, or if there are outright symptoms of physical illness, take your feline friend to the vet right away!

Finally, be sure to always provide love and care for your cat friend. They’re not particularly expressive but always know that deep down they love you.

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