Cat Always Hungry and Prevention of Constant Hunger

cat wants to eat and hold bowl and fork -- isolated on white

Cat always hungry and begging for food? Does it seem as if there will never be enough food to fill her up? It is never good to over-feed a cat. But how much is too much? For that matter, how much is too little? Overeating can be a symptom of a larger problem.

Is Kitty losing weight? Gaining weight? Is vomiting involved? What is she leaving in the litter box? Is she being pushy about trying to make you give her food? Is she stealing food? To solve the problem of your cat’s over eating you must also observe other symptoms.

Yowling for Food at Regularly Scheduled Meal Times

If you feed your cat at the same time every day, your hungry cat will figure out when it’s time to eat. No, it’s not that they’ve learned to tell time! Unless, of course, you have one of those old fashioned clocks that chime on the hour and using that to tell you when it’s time to feed the cat.

In this case, the clock may be inducing a Pavlovian response. Most often, it’s just an empty tummy that’s been trained to be ready to get filled at a certain time. Your meowing cat is just making sure you don’t forget.

Begging for Treats

Has your cat figured out where you keep the treats? They can figure out through observation where you keep the treats. Shaking the bag before treating Kitty can also induce a Pavlovian response. Cats have excellent hearing.

Their vision is likewise superb. They are also a lot smarter than people give them credit for. What they don’t have is an opposable thumb and so they will try to get you to open the jar or bag their treats are in. You have to be the parent and decide if Kitty really needs to have a treat just now and why the increased appetite.

cat always hungry

Snatching Food off the Table

It’s hard to keep things out of reach of a hungry cat who can jump six times her length. Your cat may not be able to resist the urge to jump on a table or counter to nibble on the turkey or lick at a block of cheese.

Once a cat develops a taste for things not in her usual food bowl, it can be hard to keep her away from them. Make sure food is always covered or at least under observation so Kitty can’t get at it.

Eating Too Fast

Meal time should not become a battlefield. If your cat has had to fight for food, he may bolt it down for fear that someone might take it from him. This is common in cats who have had to live on the streets or came from large litters.

Your cat needs a calm meal time that makes him feel safe. If you have multiple cats you may need to feed them separately so that they don’t fight. It may take a while for your cat to realize no one is going to take his food.

Eating and Throwing Up

Is the vomiting a hair ball or regurgitation? Hair balls are a normal thing for cats. They groom themselves with their tongue so it’s expected that a little hair gets swallowed.

Sometimes the hair just doesn’t pass through the system and accumulates into a ball that needs to be coughed up. Usually a hair ball can be easily coughed up. If it looks like she’s having a lot of trouble bringing up a hair ball you may need assistance from your vet.

If your cat is regurgitating nearly intact food, she’s probably eating too fast. If giving her a calm environment isn’t doing the trick you can spread the food out or use a bowl with nubs meant to make your cat slow down while eating.

Eating and Putting on Weight

You do not want to fatten up your cat too much. Cats, like people, may just like eating and can eat more that what’s really good for them. Being overweight is not healthy for a cat. It can lead to severe health problems.

Is your cat an unspayed female who has had contact with male cats? If she has an increased appetite and can’t seem to stop eating and she’s packing on the pounds she may be pregnant. She is going to lead lots of nutrients to feed the little kittens growing inside her. You can skip the pickles and ice cream, though.

Eating and Weight Loss

If your cat always seems to be hungry but seems to be losing weight no matter how much she eats, something is terribly wrong. Your cat possibly has a severe health problem and needs to be taken to the vet. Fortunately, many of these potential ailments can be cured or at least managed with medication or changing your cat’s diet.

Here are some things your vet may screen for:

Intestinal parasites

If your cat has an intestinal worm it could be consuming all the nutrients your cat is supposed to be getting. Ask your vet about deworming and flea treatments.


Your cat could have an overactive thyroid gland if she always feels hungry. Your vet can detect it with a simple blood test.


If your cat’s pancreas isn’t producing insulin her body isn’t processing sugars into energy. This can make her hungry and listless. A vet can prescribe insulin injections.


If everything else has been ruled out, cancer may be suspected. This will require further testing.

Bored or lonely

Like people, cats may turn to food if bored, lonely or depressed. If your cat has also been destroying things and acting aggressively she may just be unhappy. A little love and attention may be all she really needs.


A depressed cat may be eating just to fill the void. Perhaps she lost something or someone and is just inconsolable for now. Give her a healthy routine and plenty of affection until those blues go away.

Your cat’s food isn’t meeting his nutritional needs

A nutritional deficiency may cause your cat to feel hungry often and an increased appetite. Read the label on the cat food container. Is it missing anything? You may have to switch to a better quality food and give Kitty some vitamin supplements to help her out.


This endocrine disorder results in excessive growth hormones being produced by the pituitary gland. When too much of this growth hormone is produced, the cat may feel hungry quite frequently.

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency

Cats can be affected with a condition called exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. This happens when the pancreas is unable to produce the digestive enzymes necessary for the regular nutrition of the cat.


A cat who is hungry all the time may be suffering from an infection. Some infections might cause nutrient deficiency. They may cause the system to be unable to absorb nutriens.


Some medications, such as steroids, may stimulate hunger and cause an increased appetite. Talk with your vet about any and all side effects your cat’s medicine may have.

What to do Should Your Cat Always be Hungry

If your cat seems utterly obsessed with food you may have to take her to a vet. The vet will give your cat a full physical and a series of test. There could be blood work, urinalysis and radiography among others.

The vet will check for parasites and possible illness. Your vet will offer a detailed diagnosis and treatment. Feel free to ask any questions you might have.

Prevention of Those Hunger Pangs

One method of preventing your cat from always feeling hungry is to see to it that you provide them with a balanced diet with decent nutritional content. If you know for a fact that your cat is getting plenty of food and water yet they continuously want more food it is vital to contact her veterinarian. Early diagnosis of any ailment can aid in the prevention of more severe health concerns.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Why is my elderly cat always hungry?

Hyperthyroidism is a common age related disease in elderly cats. This condition is the result of a tumor in the thyroid gland. Along with an increased appetite and weight loss some symptoms of hyperthyroidism are increased heart rate, increased activity levels and vomiting. If your cat is drinking more than usual and urinating frequently to the point of having accidents it could be diabetes. Take your cat to the vet if you suspect either of these ailments.

How many times a day do you feed a cat?

Weaned kittens may need three meals a day. At six months of age, a still growing cat should be fed twice a day. At one year of age, one meal a day should do it. At this age you can switch from kitten chow to adult food. Generally, a cup of dry food contains 300 calories. A six ounce can of wet cat food has around 250 calories. A meal for an eight pound grown cat would be four fifths of a cup of dry cat food or a little less than a full can of wet cat food. Consult with your vet to find out what would be right for your cat. Don’t forget to make sure your cat is well hydrated as well.

Will cats stop eating when full?

There is no standard answer as it all depends on the specific hungry cat. Some animals are able to be free fed and will cease eating when they are full.  On the other hand, some will gain weight with just the odd table scrap. When you get a new kitten, those first few weeks will let you know what kind of eater your new little pet is. Most cats prefer to nibble throughout the day.

Why is my cat so clingy?

If your cat is excessively clingy it is because she has no self-confidence. She may have a fear of being alone stemming from a good deal of trauma and stress as a kitten. Perhaps she was taken from her mother too soon. If a normally independent cat suddenly becomes clingy, something is wrong. It could be psychological stress (often caused by a traumatic event) or it could be a physical ailment that causes a suffering cat to seek out comfort from a favorite human. Either way, a vet may have to be called on.

What is considered overweight for a cat?

On average, a domestic shorthaired cat should weigh about eight to ten pounds, though some variations in individuals and breeds is to be expected. You should be able to feel (but not see) your cat’s ribs when you stroke her sides. This means that your cat is likely a proper weight. If you cannot feel any ribs, your cat is overweight. Should you see the ribs, that means your cat is underweight.

cat wants to eat and hold knife and fork isolated on white


There is an old medical adage that goes “When you hear hoof beats, expect horses, not zebras.” Chances are good that your cat doesn’t have cancer; she’s just stress eating and needs some extra attention.

Still, sometimes it is zebras so it would be a good idea to take Kitty to the vet to make sure everything’s OK. Also remember that as pet parent it is your duty to make sure your feline friend is well cared for. Some people overfeed their pets mistaking food for love.

Don’t do that! Your cat needs affection, playtime and other things along with nutritious food to be healthy.

How much and how often should I feed my cat?

From age six months to maturity, most cats will do well when fed two times a day. Once the cat becomes an adult, at about one year, feeding once or twice a day is appropriate in most cases. Senior cats, age seven and above, should maintain the same feeding regimen.

Why is my cat so food obsessed?

Cats may beg and cry for food because it's one of the few moments you are truly dedicating to them. High levels of stress can cause a cat to go cuckoo for food–in fact, vets have recently diagnosed some cats with psychogenic abnormal feeding behavior, which involves begging and food-related aggression.

How much food should a cat eat a day?

Here's a general guideline that nutrition experts agree on: A healthy, active, 10-lb adult cat requires 270-320 calories per day.

How many cups of dry food should a cat eat per day?

Typically, dry food contains about 300 calories per cup, and canned food contains about 250 calories in each 6 oz can. (or, 125 per 3-ounce can). Using these counts as a guide, an 8-pound cat would need 4/5 of a cup of dry food or just less than a full 6-oz can (or two 3-ounce cans) of wet food per day.

  • Updated January 14, 2021
Mary Nielsen

A huge animal lover, born and raised around dogs, cats, chickens... Self-educated pet care nerd. Currently parent of three adopted cats and one small mutt. Animal adoption advocate. Loves a good book (about animals) and playing the piano.

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