Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Why is My Cat Always Hungry? Our Vet Explains

Dr. Kim Podlecki, DVM (Vet)

By Dr. Kim Podlecki, DVM (Vet)

cat eating semi moist cat food

Vet approved

Dr. Kim Podlecki Photo

Written by

Dr. Kim Podlecki

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

You know the drill. You feed your cat once or twice a day. They immediately run over to the bowl, gobble it down, and then start to meow and fuss at you a few hours later. If you’re lucky, your cat will even do this to you in the middle of the night! Most people will get up, refill the bowl, and watch their cat repeat this process. You would think your cat is starving the way they eat.

You may wonder why your cat is always hungry. Most of the time, your cat is doing this because you continue to fill the bowl and they happily continue to eat. While there are some medical conditions that can cause excess hunger, knowing how much to feed your cat can help to know if your cat is really always hungry.

How Do Cats Normally Eat?

Cats are normally grazers, which means they tend to eat multiple small meals throughout the day, instead of one or two large meals. Some may argue that cats in the wild will eat their entire kill in one sitting. While this can be true, oftentimes, their kills are smaller prey. Rodents, rabbits, birds are all small animals that would not provide an entire day’s nutrition in one sitting. This argument doesn’t hold much water nowadays because, wild felines aside, our cats are domesticated and in many ways, far removed from their wildlife counterparts.

If your cat isn’t a typical grazer, they may prefer to gorge themselves and eat an entire meal in one sitting. But that doesn’t mean they are starving, hungry, and/or that you need to feed them more. Think about yourself—if you go to a buffet, you can easily eat your entire day’s worth of calories in one sitting and may still want to eat dinner later that night. This doesn’t necessarily mean you are hungry or lacking in nutrients.

himalayan cat white eating hepper nom nom bowl

How Much Should My Cat Eat Daily?

A cat’s daily calorie requirements depend on a number of factors, such as age, underlying health problems, and the type of food they are eating. Your veterinarian can help determine your cat’s individual caloric needs based on their determining factors.

After you have your cat’s recommended daily calories, start by reading their food label. Every single food package, both dry and canned, will have recommended daily feedings on the label. For instance, a package of chicken-based food may recommend one cup of food daily for a 10 pound cat. The same brand of food, but salmon-based, may recommend only 3/4 cup of food daily for the same 10 pound cat. This is due to the different fat and calorie content of chicken and salmon. Make sure you are determining calories fed based on the specific brand and flavor of the food. If you happen to buy a different kind, you may have to feed a completely different amount.

Veterinarians also recommend feeding for your cat’s ideal weight, not necessarily what they currently weigh. If your veterinarian has recommended that your cat lose a few pounds over the next year, feed for their goal weight, not their current weight. Based on if your cat ends up gaining or losing weight, your veterinarian can then help you adjust their calorie intake up or down.

What is a Healthy Weight for a Cat?

The exact amount of calories an individual animal needs to maintain a healthy weight is variable and influenced by many factors including genetics, age, breed, and activity level. This tool is meant to be used only as a guideline for healthy individuals and does not substitute veterinary advice 

This is a loaded question with multiple factors. As veterinarians, we more closely look at what’s called a Body Condition Score (BCS) versus just looking at weight. This is a way of assessing your cat based on their body size, weight, and fat distribution. Your cat should ideally be a five on a nine-point scale. Unfortunately, most cats we see have a score of six or more.

We recommend looking over the above scale and assessing your cat. You can then slowly decrease their daily calories if they are above a score of five. If you find your cat is an eight or nine, you may want to speak with your regular veterinarian about putting your cat on prescription weight loss food.

Why is My Cat Always Hungry But Still Losing Weight?

Despite everything discussed above, some cats really are always hungry. If you notice that your cat is acting ravenous, eating everything in sight, but still looks skinny, you should see your veterinarian. There are some medical conditions that can affect a cat’s ability to put on weight. Your veterinarian may recommend testing for intestinal parasites, hyperthyroidism, cancer, or even IBD (inflammatory bowel disease).

If your cat was tested by your veterinarian and everything was normal, you may want to check the fiber content of your cat’s food. Increasing your cat’s fiber intake may help to make them feel more full after a meal, which may help to decrease their appetite. Your veterinarian may also want to put your cat on a prescription higher fiber food to help with their condition.

Canned Food Vs. Dry Food

It is a common myth amongst cat owners that cats shouldn’t be fed canned food because the gravy is “rich and bad for them”. In contrast, many veterinarians actually recommend feeding canned food.

Canned food has a much higher water content, which is great for your cat’s kidney and urinary health. In addition, because of the extra water content, your cat can eat more food (on a per weight basis) but consume less calories. Of course your cat may prefer the dry kibble, but there is nothing wrong with offering or substituting canned food for dry.

Regardless of the type of food your feline companion prefers, finding a bowl that is sure to keep the mess contained can be tough. Our Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl features a wide tray designed to ensure that all food stays exactly where it should—inside the bowl and off the floor. The whisker-friendly bowls fit securely into the PP plastic base and are low and wide to prevent whisker fatigue. Its contemporary style will fit seamlessly into any home and it is completely dishwasher safe. 

kitty eating from hepper nom nom grey on the counter from chair

How Should I Feed My Cat?

The act of “free feeding”, or leaving dry food out for your cat is fairly typical. While this isn’t a wrong thing to do, make sure you are measuring the food every day. As discussed above, your cat should eat a certain amount of daily calories. Take the amount of food in your cat’s daily calories (for instance, one cup a day), and just feed that. You can either feed that amount all at one, or split it into a bowl top-off multiple times a day.

Whatever you decide, the number one rule is to measure your cat’s food every single day. Simply filling up their bowl is likely over-estimating their daily requirements. Even a 1/4 cup difference can make a huge difference in their daily calorie intake.


Your cat acting like they are always hungry doesn’t necessarily mean they are always hungry. There are some medical conditions that do make your cat ravenous all the time. Other times, your crafty cat is likely lying to you in order to get more food!

Feeding your cat their recommended daily calories in a high-quality food is recommended. Regular veterinary visits will help you to keep your cat at a healthy weight, so you can hopefully keep their hungry behavior at bay.

Featured Image Credit: osobystist, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database