Many owners leave out their cat’s food bowl to let their pet eat periodically throughout the day. This system can work sometimes. Some cats know when they’re full and won’t eat anymore, but others are overenthusiastic and will consume food even when they’re not actually hungry, causing them to overeat.
Overeating in cats is dangerous because it can lead to various health problems, such as obesity. It’s your responsibility to provide a proper diet for your feline and notice any changes in their behavior, such as overeating, to prevent issues.
Read on to learn more about overeating in cats, from how to recognize the behavior and why overeating is so dangerous for felines to how to prevent this problem and how much your cat should be eating.
Is Overeating a Common Problem In Cats?
Overeating is a common problem in cats, and it’s especially noticeable when you look at the statistics about feline obesity. According to a recent study on pet cats in the U.S.A., around 26% of felines are overweight, and 33% of those are obese.1
Those statistics show that overeating is a common problem for pet cats, which is why as cat parents, we must reduce the potential for overeating and promote healthy eating.
However, to help cats eat healthily, lose weight, and not overeat, you need to find the root of the overeating problem.
8 Reasons Why Cats Overeat
Felines are not constant gazers, but they can develop this behavior if given 24-hour access to food. Some may never seem satisfied, though, regardless of how much food you give them. But why?
There are various reasons that your cat may have an increased appetite and eat more than usual, including the following.2
1. Poor Diet
Cats need a diet that will provide them with all the necessary nutrients and calories for proper development.
If your cat has a poor diet with low-quality, carbohydrate-based foods, they will likely eat more due to a deficiency in nutrients. Cats need a protein-based moisture-rich diet to thrive.
Some cats eat more than others because they’re bored. You should always provide an engaging and stimulating environment for your cat to ease boredom. Try to provide fun toys, scratchers, climbers, or anything else that your feline likes to keep them entertained.
3. Aging and Metabolism Changes
As a cat gets older, their muscle mass and metabolism change, which can lead to excessive hunger. If you notice that your older feline is eating more, it’s best to speak with your vet and determine if there are any dietary changes that you need to make to help your feline stay healthy.
4. Side Effects of Medications
Certain cat medications, such as prednisolone and appetite stimulants, can cause side effects, including overeating. If you notice an increased appetite in your feline while they’re consuming specific medications, talk to your vet, and see if alternative medications will reduce this problem.
5. Intestinal Parasites
When a cat has intestinal parasites, such as tapeworms or roundworms, and develops a severe infection, they may experience excessive hunger. The parasites inside the cat’s body are stealing most of the nutrients, causing increased hunger but keeping the cat underweight.
If you notice that your feline eats in large quantities but is not gaining weight or is losing weight, you should talk to your vet. They will likely run tests to verify your cat’s health status and might prescribe medications for your feline.
6. Diabetes Mellitus
When a cat has diabetes mellitus, their body is incapable of breaking down glucose to create energy, leading to an increased amount of sugar in the bloodstream. When this happens, cats experience increased appetite, followed by losing weight and showing other signs, such as:
- Increased thirst
- Dull coat
- Increased urination
Hyperthyroidism occurs in cats whose thyroid gland overproduces certain hormones. When that happens, many cats can experience excessive hunger due to hormonal changes in their body.
This condition can cause various other problems, such as diarrhea, vomiting, and increased urination. If hyperthyroidism is the cause of overeating, your cat will need a vet check to get the necessary diet or medication to manage this problem. However, in severe cases, some felines may need radioactive therapy or even surgery to remove their gland to prevent further problems.
8. Malabsorptive Diseases
Diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease or intestinal neoplasia can lead to issues with the small intestine, where your cat’s body is unable to absorb nutrients from food properly.
Therefore, malabsorptive diseases lead to increased appetite and weight loss. When such health issues occur, your cat will need a vet check with further testing to get to the source of the problem and determine the proper treatment.
What Are the Dangers of Overeating in Cats?
Overeating in cats can be a big problem, especially if it happens continuously for a long period of time. Since your feline is consuming more food than their body needs, they will quickly become overweight and eventually, obese.
With excessive weight gain, most cats become less active and more lethargic, and they could become sick. Obesity puts cats at a higher risk of developing other health conditions, such as:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Heart disease
- Urinary bladder stones
- Anesthetic complications
- Liver diseases
How to Know If Your Cat Is Overeating
Cats need enough food to maintain their daily energy loss and get needed daily nutrients. However, eating too much food will quickly make them overweight.
By observing your feline’s weight and body condition score you can tell whether your feline is overeating or not. But since most people see their cats every day, it may be hard to notice any changes in their weight.
What Should You Do If Your Cat Is Overeating?
If your cat is overeating, you should first determine the reason for this behavior. Start by taking your feline to the vet to rule out any possible health problems or get medications if the cause is health related.
If your feline is healthy but keeps overeating, try to reduce their boredom, and create a more stimulating environment to increase their activity level. Also, ensure that you’re providing them with high-quality foods with the nutrients that your cat needs for development.
As long as you provide a proper balance of mental and physical stimulation along with a healthy diet, your cat should eat in normal amounts and maintain a healthy weight.
A Word of Caution
Cats should never lose too much body fat too quickly, or they can suffer from fatty liver disease. If you wish your cat to lose weight in a healthy way, speak to your veterinarian about making a safe, slow, and steady weight-loss plan for your cat.
Many cats will overeat if you let them, which is why you are responsible for preventing such behavior. Keep your cat healthy by offering them healthy and nutritious foods, keeping them active, and mentally stimulating them daily to prevent boredom. If you’re doing everything right but your cat is still overeating, consider speaking to your vet to determine if there’s a health issue.