Why is my 1-yr old cat suddenly so ravenous??
January 28, 2021 8:58 PM   Subscribe

I have been feeding my 11lb, one year old cat daily (upon my vet's instructions) 1/3 a cup of dry cat food and one 3oz can of wet food. Before, this was PLENTY and he wouldn't even clean his plate right away. But for the last couple months, he vacuums it all up immediately and begs loudly for more, and seems pretty pissed off at us in general as if we're underfeeding him. What's going on?

We transitioned him to wet adult food slowly from wet kitten food, and he is now eating 100% Weruva wet food and Blue Wilderness dry food. I divide the feedings into three "platings" so that he eats when we eat.

We play with him a LOT as he is still very kitten-ish, so I don't think he's eating out of boredom. We also bought him puzzle feeders for his treats, in case he was bored. It didn't make a difference.

I checked with the vet about the amounts last month, so I assume it's enough? But his behavior has gotten increasingly worse, with him diving headfirst into the fridge, jumping onto the counter while we're cooking, trying to dig scraps out of the trash. He's plumper than before so it's not like he's wasting away from a disease. And I have been checking his stool for worms - and have seen nothing.

He's so unhappy that it makes me wonder: A: does he just need more food? And B: Would it be so bad to just let him gain some weight (within reason) if it made him a happier kitty?
posted by egeanin to Pets & Animals (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Switch him to a weight control or neutered cat diet? It's the same amount of calories but in a larger volume of food so he'll feel fuller. Personally I've found the feeding guides for most cat food is totally out of whack except for Royal Canin. They even include a guide for when you combo feed dry and wet.
We also have a garbage digger but that's not out of hunger but a desire to eat chicken bones and taco meat.
posted by fiercekitten at 9:30 PM on January 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Is he drinking more?
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:54 PM on January 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: That seems like not enough food. According to Weruva's site: “Feed according to the age, size, and activity of your cat. If fed alone, feed 1.0oz for each pound of body weight daily."

you're currently feeding your cat less than 6 ounces total of food a day, and nearly half is crunchies, which is not as nutrient dense for cats as wet. I'd feed the Weruva twice a day, and maybe 1/4 cup of crunchies if he's still hungry.

Our cats weigh just under ten pounds, they currently get 135 grams/4.75 ounces of fresh food plus all the crunchies they want- I'm going to say 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup per day. They are young and active and tend to be skinny rather than otherwise (though they gain weight in the winter, as many animals do).
posted by oneirodynia at 10:01 PM on January 28, 2021 [10 favorites]

posted by jessca84 at 10:43 PM on January 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This is a bit less than we feed our 11.5 - 12.5lb 10 year old cat. (Her weight goes up and down; the vet feels that she stays in a good range.) She's pretty active.

I guess I'd get some labs (unless you just had them) to check for diabetes, etc. If nothing came up, I'd, yes, feed him more.

For me, I look at the cat weight charts. Basically, as long as my cat has a "waist" when viewed from the top, I know her weight is within the acceptable range. My layperson's feeling is that some vets are really biased in favor of extreme, barn-cat skinniness for cats, and my cat's bone structure is such that she's never going to achieve that unless she's not getting enough to eat. I've known cats that are naturally very small with narrow shoulders for whom a very low weight was normal, but that's not our cat.
posted by Frowner at 12:45 AM on January 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

Also our cat eats more in the winter and less in the summer. If your cat is colder he may be hungrier.

When our cat was younger, I tried to keep her food down to the amount recommended on the package. (We only fed dry at the time; now we feed wet and dry.) She was hungry and always pestering. Now I basically free-feed kibble and give her probably 2oz of wet food per day plus some treats. She doesn't actually eat a ton more than the recommended amount, but those extra few bites make her a lot happier. At this point you don't really know how much more your cat even wants - it might be that just being able to nibble another T. of dry food at his leisure would make him happy.
posted by Frowner at 12:52 AM on January 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: That is about as much as we feed our active young adult cat who is also about 11 lbs, we feed him a 3oz can of high quality wet food and a third a cup of grain free crunchies a day. He is pretty darn strong, but we can also feel his spine under a layer of muscle, not much chub, although as he’s mellowed there is a bit there. He is a total food snatcher and treat psycho so we’re careful and don’t free feed. The vet has repeatedly complimented his health and strength and glossy coat etc. Our other cat came to us underweight and has digestive issues (basically kitty IBS) and we’re very observant about weight and food quality and all that stuff.

After a bunch of weight and feeding conversations with a few different vets over the years, the thing I’ve learned is basically different cats eat different amounts to be healthy and that’s okay. Some cats tend towards lean and some tend towards chub. If you can feel their spine with some good muscle and fat supporting it while gently poking their back, that’s generally a good weight for that cat, and whatever food amount or type or frequency can maintain that is the right routine for them. So it might very well be that your cat will be happier with more food - definitely offer more wet food first. He might just be a chubbier adult cat naturally - as long as he has the muscle to support it that’s okay, but he does need the protein to build that!

The thing to be concerned with is fast changes. Since your cat is still growing up it’s harder to tell, but if he switched behaviors on a dime and it wasn’t a gradual thing you started to notice, that would be something to get tests done about. It could be any number of things.

He could also just be wildly motivated by people food, which is something I struggle with with my cat as I mentioned above - he desperately needs to lick cereal milk, be on the kitchen counters, I can’t leave a plate unattended for a second. We are working on behaviors, but it’s not a medical problem and feeding him more cat food isn’t going to help. Routine does help a bit though; for example he knows he can lick my cereal bowl clean only after I have drunk the milk (don’t worry, I eat cereal that would be cat safe! It’s just crispix, and he only gets like a microliter of milk in the end) and if he tries to invade beforehand it’s baby jail for him (gets put in another room with the door closed for a few minutes until I have put the bowl in the dishwasher). So nowadays I just get the stink eye while I eat cereal but it’s from afar, and he waits for my permission. Counters are... harder.

So yeah. Try offering more or different food (maybe something fishy/meaty/chickeny will better satisfy him) and work on routines and boundaries as he settles into an adult. Keep an eye out for fast changes. Consider a vet visit if it’s safe where you are to do so.
posted by Mizu at 1:28 AM on January 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Check the calorie levels of your wet food now vs what was in the kitten food you recently switched from. I had no idea the degree of variability there--usually kitten food is pretty uniformly high-calorie, but adult food can range from nearly as high to maybe 1/2 as many calories per serving. It's possible your cat is suddenly get a lot fewer calories overall, and might need more servings or a more energy-dense food.
posted by Jemstar at 5:34 AM on January 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

Just to second the winter/cold thing. Our cats eat roughly twice as much food in the winter; partly they need more calories to cope with the cold but also they aren't catching/eating as much to supplement their diet.

We also have an automatic kibble dispenser to disconnect us from the provision of food; our previous cat wouldn't stop jonesing for food despite not actually being hungry a lot of the time and this completely fixed it.
posted by offmessage at 6:20 AM on January 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

Worms were my first thought. I don't think you can always tell without a professional poop-check (with microscope) for eggs. Deworming is done with two pills a couple weeks apart and would be of no risk to an otherwise-healthy young cat. Ask your vet; it wouldn't hurt to try.
posted by heatherlogan at 6:21 AM on January 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: him diving headfirst into the fridge, jumping onto the counter while we're cooking, trying to dig scraps out of the trash.

Others have already addressed the food/eating issue, so I'll stick to addressing this: my 15mo old does all of these things even when there is still some dry food in his bowl or after he's just gotten some wet food. He's developed a fascination with the fridge, counters, and trash, which has less to do with his hunger-level and everything to do with his ever-increasing mischief level.
posted by coffeecat at 7:38 AM on January 29, 2021

this is something you should definitely tell your vet about. it COULD be he just needs a few more ounces a day to feel full. or he could have a thyroid problem or diabetes or etc.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:43 AM on January 29, 2021

Best answer: I am going to recommend again this superb video on cat nutrition and feeding by beloved Vancouver vet, Dr. Uri Burstyn. It answered a lot of my questions about cat feeding and my cat is a lot happier that I have finally figured out how to feed her.
posted by nanook at 8:06 AM on January 29, 2021 [4 favorites]

Sounds just like one of my cats when he had worms. Definitely take a stool sample to the vet to check.

Also cats keep growing through their second year. It's hard to tell since he's not getting dramatically bigger, but he could be having a growth spurt.
posted by Archipelago at 12:47 PM on January 29, 2021

I can't speak to the food and quantity question but worms don't generally show up as worms in the poop - you'd see eggs or maybe some segments at most, depending on the type. The pros have to look under a microscope to be sure.
posted by Lady Li at 2:13 PM on January 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

A one year old cat is likely still growing and imo should not be kept hungry. The behaviour you describe sounds like actual hunger. Please feed him more food.
posted by Acheman at 2:15 PM on January 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I checked his calories and sure enough, his kitten food had 30% more calories than his adult food. So I'm going to increase his wet food by a half can a day and see what happens!

I don't think it's worms because he had them when he was a lil' kitten, so I know how to ID the eggs on sight. And I haven't seen any.

Also I thought the video @nanook posted on cat nutrition was helpful. My cat is a male orange tabby and it's winter, so that checks two of the boxes that the Vet mentioned for why he may be extra hungry.

Thanks all!
posted by egeanin at 5:32 PM on January 29, 2021 [4 favorites]

In my experience cats in the 6 months-2 year range are like teenagers in behavior and appetite. They're absolutely ravenous. Could be he's just going through a growth spurt and needs more food.
posted by Anonymous at 7:07 PM on January 29, 2021

This internet person gives you permission to up the amount of food you give your cat! Our cats are almost two years old, one is 12 lbs, the other is 11 lbs (last we checked.) They each eat two 3-oz cans of wet food daily, mixed in with canned pumpkin, and about 10 kibble pieces as dessert. They also get a few Greenies or another treat every day. We feed them four times a day (.5 can x 4) -- as a side note, god the pandemic has really enabled our tendency to cater to the cats every desire.

The 12 lb cat has always been chunkier, I suspect it is because he was on antibiotics when he was younger because of diarrhea. He gets crotchety when we don't feed him on demand, even if it has been less than 3 hours since his last meal!
posted by spamandkimchi at 2:45 PM on February 2, 2021

(I'm glad to hear other cats like canned pumpkin. I was told being a pumpkin-biter was weird!)
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