There’s a wide range of reasons you cat may experience an increased appetite – and it can be as simple as colder weather meaning they need more food to fuel their system and regulate their temperature. Ageing can also cause a natural increase in appetite, as can pregnancy, switching to a lower quality food, certain medications or even an increase in activity! If none of these seem like your culprit, here are five common causes for increased feline appetite.
If a new cat has moved into the area (or perhaps you’ve bought home a new kitten, puppy or your baby has turned into a cat dish turning toddler) you may find their appetite hasn’t increased at all – they are simply not getting the food you serve. If you suspect this could be the case, keep their food in a better protected spot – up high and indoors.
An infestation of worms means your cat is eating for…well, more than two! Essentially, the worms will be consuming the calories from the food, and not your cat, meaning they quickly become hungry again. Cats get infected with hookworms, round worms and tapeworms by hunting prey, so it’s important to stick to your worming regime (once every three months for adult cats), and speak to your vet if you’ve gotten behind, as they are not always visible.
Like us, cats can develop diabetes mellitus, where they cannot regulate their blood sugar levels. The four classic signs of diabetes mellitus include ravenous appetite, weight loss, increased urination, and increased water consumption, and your vet can diagnose diabetes with a blood test. Left untreated, diabetes will shorten your kitty’s lifespan, and may lead to unhealthy skin and coat, liver disease, and secondary bacterial infections. It can also lead to potentially fatal condition, ketoacidosis which can also cause collapse, seizures or a coma, or diabetic neuropathy, which will make your cat progressively weaker, especially in the hind legs.
Hyperthyroidism – aka – thyrotoxicosis, is a common disease for middle aged, to elderly cats, caused by an increase in production of thyroid hormones from enlarged thyroid glands in the cat's neck. Left untreated, it can cause heart disease, kidney problems and eventually death. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is another potential complication and can cause additional damage to several organs, including the eyes, kidneys, heart, and brain. Your vet will check your cat’s neck for enlarged glands, and may also check their heart rate and blood pressure, as well as conduct a blood test. Once diagnosed, your vet can discuss the best method of treatment for your cat - medication, surgery, or radioactive-iodine therapy.
READ MORE: Caring for older cats
5. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
More common in older cats, IBD refers to a group of chronic gastrointestinal disorders caused by an infiltration of inflammatory cells into the walls of your cat’s gastrointestinal tract. The cells thicken the wall of their gastrointestinal tract, disrupting your cat’s intestines ability to function properly. Once diagnosed by your vet, your cat may be put on a special diet to treat IBD, or medication may be recommended.
Any ongoing change in appetite is best handled with a visit to your vet for a check-up – they’ll be able to give them a thorough workup, and should they diagnose a health issue, provide advice on how best to treat it.