by Nomi Berger
Is your favorite feline continually meowing for more food, paw-lease?
If so, the cause may be either physical or psychological. Consider then, the following five reasons for this behavior:
- Your cat may have roundworms. Often times, an always-hungry cat may be infested with roundworms that are “leeching” all of the nutrition from her food long before she eats it. Strangely enough, infected cats may look fat since these parasites have the unfortunate effect of making their bodies swell. And because roundworms are contagious to people, if you suspect your cat is infected, collect a sample of her feces and take it to your vet for testing.
- Your cat may have hyperthyroidism or diabetes. Both diseases cause a considerable increase in an affected cat’s appetite. Hyperthyroidism makes her ravenous because her metabolism is burning far too many calories. Diabetes, on the other hand, makes her overly hungry because her body is unable to convert sugar into energy. In both instances, her body is being deprived of the benefits that only proper nutrition can provide. If your cat is eating constantly and not only losing weight but also drinking an excessive amount of water, have her seen by your vet as quickly as possible.
- Your cat may be bored or lonely. Like people, some cats will overeat out of boredom or loneliness. To keep your cat from getting bored, provide her with more stimulation and stop allowing her to graze and munch on kibble all day. Instead, supply her with intellectually stimulating toys and place her kibble inside puzzle toys or in an automatic feeder that provides her access to a small amount of food at pre-set times throughout the day. The toys will keep her happily engaged and amused while the puzzle toys, particularly, will encourage her to “work” for her food, helping her burn off those unwanted calories. But if loneliness, not boredom, is the problem, consider adopting another – compatible — kitty to be her precious playmate and constant companion.
- Your cat may be depressed or grieving. Just as with people, eating excessively is a familiar form of self-soothing behavior for sad cats with a serious case of the kitty cat blues. If your cat shows little interest in the world around her, try luring her out of her kitty cat shell by engaging her in gentle, interactive play. As an added incentive, give her what cat behaviorists refer to as “love blinks.” Slowly close your eyes, keep them closed for a second, and then slowly open them again while thinking of those three magical words: “I love you.”
- Your cat may be failing to have her nutritional needs met. Poor-quality cat food is equivalent to fast foods and starchy foods consumed all too often and in excessive quantities by people. Any cat deprived of the nutrients her body needs will attempt unsuccessfully to make up for it by simply eating and eating. Remedy the situation by speaking with your vet about the appropriate type and amount of food best suited to satisfy the needs of your overly hungry cat.