Does it appear that your cat is hungry all the time? Does he want to eat no matter when you last fed him? In this article, we are going to discuss possible causes and, most important, solutions to excessive eating in cats, also known as polyphagia.
Remember, polyphagia itself is not a disease. It’s a symptom, either behavioral or medical. In order to fight it, you must find the source. So, we begin with…
1. Rule out any health conditions that might be causing your cat to want to eat all the time
Have your veterinarian examine your cat thoroughly. Common medical reasons that may cause a cat to be hungry all the time are worms, diabetes mellitus, tumor, insulin shock, and many others. Most veterinary handbooks list about 10 to 20 health conditions that may result in polyphagia. Kittens and lactating female cats might also have an increased appetite. If the veterinarian diagnoses your cat with a disease, appropriate treatment must be started in order to proceed. In many cases, treating the disease is all it takes to stop your cat from being an excessive eater.
2. Strictly schedule your cat’s meals
First, take a look at the label on your cat’s food, and find the correct amount to give your cat daily according to his weight—his normal weight, that is. Divide this amount into two to four meals and make sure you present them on a strict schedule.
Yes, look at a clock. Feed several meals per day strictly at the same time. No extra treats! If you’ve been free-feeding your cat, say goodbye to this practice. We want to get your cat into a normal eating habit, and this will not be possible without limiting his access to food. The strict schedule will also create some predictability for your cat. By this, we mean that, since we are going to limit his food access, his stress will go up; offering food at predictable times will help limit his stress.
3. Ignore your cat’s begging for food.
We can assure you with 100% certainty that, when you start limiting your cat’s access to food, he will begin to meow, purr, and walk beside you all day long. IGNORE this behavior! Shooing him away or petting him will only reward his behavior and give him a glimpse of hope that “My human heard me and knows I want food, so, if I insist more…” Cut that out. If your cat is meowing or purring right in your face, ignore him.
4. Decrease your cat’s boredom.
Although you should ignore your cat’s begging, don’t abandon him completely. To redirect his thoughts away from food, you will need to occupy his body and brain most of the time. In nature, cats normally spend most of their day gathering food. They hunt small rodents, and after they capture and eat one, they groom themselves, take a nap, wake up, and start thinking about capturing another one. Their lives are occupied with gathering food.
Household cats, on the other hand, do not need to gather food. It is readily available. If household cats do not have something to fill their time, they may start “gathering food” by purring and meowing at their owners. So what should you do?
Play with your cat! Groom him, talk to him. Give him the attention he deserves. Buy him a cat tree, toys, or a cat-friendly dog. Installing a few perches might be very helpful as they will expand the territory available to your cat enormously. For more tips, read our other articles on how to make your cat’s life interesting and how to modify your house to make it more appropriate for your cat’s basic needs.
Above all, however, remember that the main concern if your cat is hungry all the time is his health. Plenty diseases are associated with this behavior, so you should not take it lightly.