Why is my cat hungry all the time?
Original Question: Dear Dr. Greenway, my cat arrived to our house 6 months ago and he has kidney stones and gingivitis. We have it treated it but he is very hungry all the time. We started to give him pumpkin mashed with his k/d wet food and hoped that he would sleep better. Then we started to give him dry food at night and he eats everything at once and wakes us up at 2 am, then 4 am, and then at 6 am. When we close doors to the bedroom he scratches it and when we live it open he walks all over us and asks for food and even bites us when ignored. The scratching is another problem. Our cat ruins our carpet and furniture and we gave him 3 different scratching posts and cat's tree but nothing works. Appreciate any ideas. - Alicja
There are conditions that will make cats hungrier such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism and other things that can be looked for with just routine blood work. So I’d suggest that you start there because you have to look at the medical side of things before you decide that this is a behavioral problem. Let’s face it, if a cat that eats this much or is so food motivated then they may have an underlying medical condition. If it is behavioral, you could look at anti-anxiety supplements and then medication if it’s really serious. As a veterinarian, I will see people start to get frustrated and they will get to the point that they give the cat away and I really like to avoid that so if it means that I have to end up giving medication for a behavioral cause then I think that’s okay. We want to build a harmonious life with our pets and I think think it’s alright if we go the medication route because it is better than the alternative. Talk to your veterinarian about potentially giving medications as an option if behavioral strategies aren’t working.
As far as his motivation for food, you can get something that gives them a little bit of food all the time such as food balls that you can fill with kibble that they bat around and a kibble will drop out once in a while. This will keep him engaged and it will allow him to play out that food motivation and focus on the ball rather than you guys.
It is difficult with some cats to get appropriate sleep so you may have to look at restricting them to a different area of the house. That may frustrate them so you’re going to want to address anxiety with that as well so definitely talk to your veterinarian. I’m very suspicious there might be a medical problem here and I think you’ve got to flesh that out first.
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