Why are my cats so hungry?
September 6, 2006 7:41 PM   Subscribe

Why are my cats so hungry all of a sudden?

Three cats: Azrael, female, and a frail, somewhat senile 21 year old; JJ, male, an overweight 3.5 year old; and Kokomo, female, slightly overweight and about 18 months old. They've all been used to being fed pretty much Friskies or Kroger wet food in the morning and the evening with some dry food to graze on throughout the day. (Once upon a time, JJ used to hog all the food, but for the last year or so, he lets the ladies go first.) It used to be the case that if they didn't care for some food, they wouldn't eat it (or at least they'd leave some of it behind). At some point, my wife bought some cheapo wet and dry food exclusively for about a month, and the cats just couldn't get enough of it. Since then, they've been put back on the better food but cry all the time for more. I tried giving them double the food as an experiment, and they still wanted more after only an hour, which changed the issue from a curiosity to a concern. None of them has lost or gained weight since this has been going on, it looks like they're eating the same proportions relative to one another as they used to, they're all solely indoor cats, and there's no sign of worms in the litterbox. Any ideas why they're so hungry?
posted by kimota to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is odd. I cannot offer you an answer, but a similar experience. My cat is also old, and his appetite fluctuates madly. For several days he eats nothing. Suddenly he will be demanding can after can. The food does not change much.
I wonder if the cats are in synch with their hunger because of ages, and the younger cat is following. Maybe it is something old cats are prone to, swings of hunger. Maybe the food your wife introduced did not satiate them, and they picked up a habit from eating so much of that food.
It is peculiar and I will watch this thread because of my own cats behavior.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 8:35 PM on September 6, 2006

It could some sort of strange habit they've all picked up. Or it could be that they've all picked up some sort of disease recently. If I were you, I would call the vet and see if he/she thinks it's worth bringing one/all of them in, and then follow his/her judgment.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:36 PM on September 6, 2006

I find that if I interrupt my cat's food routine (going on vacation, changing type of food or frequency), she begs for food constantly for several days until she's used the routine again.
posted by Zosia Blue at 8:45 PM on September 6, 2006

You know how you eat rice, and in an hour you're hungry again? It could be something as similar as that: some "filler" in the cheapo food that isn't really satiating.

Or they may have just figured out that they can make you do things on command (dance, puppet, dance!) and are having a merry time of it.

On the other hand, I don't want to scare you or anything, but once we had a cat who started eating more and more and more. Never enough food in the world. At first, his weight stayed stable (even by the time his food intake had grown to a couple multiples above normal). Then he began *losing* weight despite all those extra calories. By the time we caught on to the weight loss and rushed him to the vet, the undiagnosed disease quietly ravaging his body had progressed to terminal. A bunch of emergency procedures and surgeries bought him a little extra time to enjoy life, but it still took him too damn young. A harsh lesson learned.

Call the vet. And if you're told there's no need for a visit now, trust that experise but do call back to update the vet in another week or two if the situation hasn't improved. Can't hurt.

Unlike waiting too long.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:25 PM on September 6, 2006

Perhaps your cats found a new favorite food and are hoping for more. That cheapo wet food apparently tastes pretty good to cats. My vet once told me that when her cat was sick and wouldn't eat much of anything, she fed the cat the cheap wet food because it's like fast food for the feline set - not great healthwise but pretty damn tasty.

Call the vet for peace of mind. This may just be a case of cat food cravings though.
posted by rhiannon at 9:44 PM on September 6, 2006

If it were just one older cat, I would suggest you go to the vet and get a geriatric blood panel done.

I did that for my old guy (14), who was demanding to be fed all the time while at the same time losing weight. It revealed that he is hyperthyroid, which is apparently common in old cats. It's hard on their circulatory system, unfortunately, as he was looking quite svelte.

He's been on meds for a couple months and is starting to bulk back up. He's still really into the chow, though, since I give him his pill in a spoonful of wet food, which he adores and can't get enough of.

Anyway, with three cats of different ages, I'd say you just found a kind of food they really, really like.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:15 PM on September 6, 2006

You mentioned that when they were eating the other food, they "couldn't get enough of it". Does that mean that you were giving them more than their usual food in the morning, evening and food to graze on?

If they were getting more food, they may have gotten to like that and are trying to get you to feed them more than usual.

With my two little monsters, they cry for food when their bowl is empty. Usually, that is the only reason for their meowing. They just like to know that the food is *there*.
posted by punkrockrat at 6:25 AM on September 7, 2006

Compare the protein content of the foods -- I'm inclined to second the "Chinese food isn't filling" theory. Maybe try a regimen of kitty vitamins along with the cheap food and see if they act more sated. We switched back to the more expensive food due to Buttcat's awful gassiness, but we found that they tended to eat less of it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:28 AM on September 7, 2006

"Buttcat" is a pseudonym to protect precious feline dignity. 'Cause she reads AskMe, you know...
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:29 AM on September 7, 2006

Because they're reached the stage where they must consume human flesh. Better sleep with one eye open...
posted by Mr. Gunn at 7:37 AM on September 7, 2006

I don't know exactly why your cats are eating more but here's some interesting information I found when my cat (10) was recently diagnosed with diabetes:

No cat should be given dry food. And the best wet foods are ones that are high in protein, moderate fat, and low carbs. We had been giving our cat Sciences Diet dry (along with some wet) which we thought was good but it's very high in carbohydrates.

Here's an interesting article on managing diabetes in cats. While your cats probably don't have the disease there is some useful information about feline nutritional needs that can be applied to any cat. After I read this article I took it to my Vet, not to "lay down the law" but to ask him if it was true that no cat should be fed dry and he agreed. Ask your own Vet.

In addition here are some interesting charts on the nutritional value of many commercial wet and dry cat foods.

Lastly, an overweight cat is more prone to diabetes so it's important to keep your cats' weight down. Feeding them food with lots of carbs will make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.

And, of course, my final caveat: I am not a Vet. Check this out with your own before making any decisions.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 9:26 AM on September 7, 2006

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