Many people believe cats to be finicky eaters, but this is often not the case. Some cats have great appetites and will not let their owners forget it. So if your cat has a large appetite, this may well be perfectly normal. However, if you've noticed that your cat's appetite has increased for seemingly no reason, you should try to determine what the cause is. Increased appetite (also called polyphagia) can be caused by a variety of factors, and here you will learn what those are.
Sometimes increased appetite is a sign of a medical issue in cats. Below are some conditions that can cause cats to eat more food than usual:
- Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism is a glandular disorder causing elevated levels of thyroid hormones. A cat with hyperthyroidism may experience symptoms such as weight loss, increased heart rate, and diarrhea.
- Diabetes: Approximately 0.5 to 2 percent of cats have diabetes. Common symptoms of diabetes include weight loss, excessive urination, and increased consumption of water.
- Cushing's Syndrome: Though rare, Cushing's syndrome is another possible cause of polyphagia in cats. Older cats are most likely to have this condition. Watch for symptoms such as increased thirst, vomiting, and weight changes if you suspect your cat has Cushing's syndrome.
Other medical causes include infections, gastrointestinal problems, and parasites. Some medications (such as antihistamines for example) can also make cats more hungry than usual. If you believe your cat may have a medical issue, be sure to take them to a veterinarian or emergency pet clinic.
Of course, sometimes cats will change their eating habits for reasons that are not medically related. Below are some factors that can lead to increased appetite in cats:
- Lifestyle changes: Cats can become stressed by various changes in their lives. These changes include the loss of an owner, a recent move, and upsets in their schedule. Just as humans sometimes eat more when they're under stress, cats do this as well. So think carefully about whether your cat has experienced a change recently, as well as ways you can help them adjust to this change.
- Increased/decreased physical activity: Cats can also become hungrier as a result of increased physical activity. Since physical activity burns calories, your cat may eat more to make up for the loss in calories. So if you've recently introduced a new pet or toy into the household, this could very well be the reason for your cat's increased appetite. Of course, decreased activity can cause your cat to eat more as well. For example, if your cat becomes bored from lack of play, they may seek out food as a means of alleviating this boredom.
Poor diet can also be a cause of excessive eating, so check with a vet to make sure that your cat is getting the nutrients they need. Determining the cause of excessive eating can be tricky, but it is worth it to ensure your cat lives the best life possible.