One of the most common issues among cat parents is our feline friend’s constant need for food. My cat is always begging for food, and I know I’m not alone in often feeling annoyed by this behavior. It gets to the point where you can’t even grab yourself a snack without the sound of your cat meowing at the door, bugging you for the same thing.
Sometimes you may even find your cat begging for food but not eating once you finally give in and fill their bowl. So why do cats beg for food so often? Are they just hungry? Or is there an underlying issue that we are unaware of?
Hopefully, this article will start to answer some of these pressing questions. Below are some of the most common reasons why you find your cat always begging for food and some top tips for reducing this behavior so that you can start to rectify the problem.
Why Is My Cat Always Begging for Food?
Does it seem like your cat is always hungry and meowing? You’re not alone. Most cat owners go through this problem at some point in their kitty’s life, and understanding where this behavior is coming from can be vital in stopping it from happening.
In this section, I will cover five possible causes of your cat’s begging and provide several indicators you can look out for to identify which is causing this unwanted behavior in your feline friend.
Firstly, your cat’s increased appetite may be due to an underlying health condition affecting its metabolism. Three of the main culprits are diabetes, intestinal parasites, and hyperthyroidism.
- Diabetes: Let’s begin with diabetes. This is where a lack of insulin stops the body from accessing the sugar gained during a meal, meaning your cat’s brain signals that they need more food. The condition is more prevalent in older cats and can lead to unexplained weight loss, increased urination, and thirst.
- Intestinal Parasites: Next up is internal parasites. These are a widespread occurrence in cats, with roundworm and hookworm being the most frequently seen varieties. Both types stop your kitty from being able to properly absorb the nutrients they ingest with their food, resulting in an increased appetite. Other signs include sickness, diarrhea, and weight loss.
- Hyperthyroidism: Finally, we have hyperthyroidism, a disease that causes the thyroid gland to release high amounts of thyroid hormones. This hormone stimulates our furry friends’ metabolisms, meaning they burn through their energy more quickly and require more food. Also, keep an eye out for increased thirst and an unkempt fur coat.
If you think your cat is always begging for food because of an underlying medical condition, make sure to call your vet so that they can get the treatment they need.
Stress and Anxiety
Eating is a gratifying experience for all, animals and humans alike. So, it makes sense to turn to this pleasurable pastime when we’re having a bad day. Cats are very sensitive animals; changing their environment or routine can make them feel stressed and anxious. Overindulging might be your cat’s way of trying to calm down.
However, this isn’t always the case. If your kitty has suddenly lost their appetite, this could also signify more chronic forms of stress. Neither is good, so try and make sure to implement any changes around the house slowly. Other signs of stress to look out for include overgrooming, aggression, hiding, and scratching.
Boredom or Attention Seeking
Just like us, our cats can get bored. I don’t know about you, but I’m one for reaching into the cookie jar whenever I have nothing fun to do. Some cats use food the same way and can even keep eating to the point of being sick. But, if you’ve ensured your home is an enriching environment for your kitty, boredom is less likely the cause as your cat will be having so much fun!
When your cat begs for food but doesn’t eat, it may want your attention instead. Felines know they will receive your undivided attention for a few minutes if they get you to refill their bowl. If you’ve also been asking yourself, “Why is my cat so affectionate all of a sudden?” you may find attention seeking is the culprit.
Lately, have you thought, “Why is my cat always hungry but skinny?” This could be because they’re not receiving everything they need: your kitty begs for food so they can search for the nutrients they’re missing. Maybe invest in cat weighing scales to keep an eye on your feline’s weight and check for fatigue, excessive grooming, and swollen gums.
The bulk of a cat’s diet needs to be protein-based, with fats and carbohydrates only being required in smaller amounts. Vitamins and minerals are also essential. Your felines age, energy level and medical conditions (if applicable) all affect the exact nutritional needs your cat requires, so it may be worth getting a professional opinion.
Developed a Begging Habit
Finally, your cat may have just developed a begging habit. This usually happens when we start to give in to our kitty’s begging. Don’t worry; most cat moms are guilty of this at some point, and the habit can be broken (see below for tips!). But if you have caved in at some point, this could be the cause of your cat’s newfound behavior.
Cats are extremely intelligent and observant creatures; just like us, they can learn what behaviors to display to get their desired outcome. This means they form a link between excessive meowing and a delicious treat. And we can hardly blame them for using this knowledge. If that’s all you had to do for your favorite snack, wouldn’t you do the same?
How Can I Stop My Cat Begging for Food?
When my cat is always begging for food, I find it super hard not to give in. But who can resist when they look at you with those big eyes and meow in just as heartbreaking a way as Oliver Twist says, “Please, Sir, can I have some more”?
As tempting as indulging your kitty’s every need is, it can be detrimental to their health, especially when it comes to overfeeding. Many cat owners turn to punishment when trying to train their felines out of a bad habit, but often your furry friend won’t understand the cause of the punishment and just be confused instead. The encouragement of good behaviors tends to work much better.
That’s why I’m going to share with you some of my best tips for dealing with unwanted begging. When implementing these tips, keep in mind that it may involve some trial and error and that any changes won’t occur overnight. Patience is key!
1. Book a Veterinary Appointment
We have the first port of call for many cat moms when we notice an unexpected change in our furry friends: call the vet. As we’ve covered, excessive begging can indicate an underlying health condition, such as diabetes or hyperthyroidism.
Booking an appointment ensures you will receive a professional opinion on how best to treat your cat (if required) and stamp out their begging for good. The vet will also be able to recommend an ideal diet for your kitty so you can make sure they’re getting all the nutrients they need out of their meals.
2. Provide Proper Nutrition
If our cats receive a healthy diet, they will no longer beg due to a lack of something vital. Always ensure the food you buy is age-appropriate and check the label to see exactly what nutrients your feline will be getting. Wet food tends to be more filling and nutritious. And – although higher quality food is more expensive – the increased nutrients may well pay for themselves.
The problem with wet food is that it can only be left out for a few hours at a time without going bad. This is especially an issue when leaving cats alone for four days or less without a sitter, as you will have to put down large quantities of food at once. Purchasing a cat feeder with collar control may be ideal if this happens regularly, as these allow the food to be covered until your feline is close by.
3. Feed Small Yet Frequent Portions
An irregular feeding schedule means your cat will never know when their next meal is coming, therefore making it more likely that they’ll beg. An automatic wet cat food feeder is the ideal solution as they ensure mealtimes stay the same daily. This means you can give your kitty smaller portions of food more frequently, reducing the likelihood of them being hungry.
I recently invested in one of these, and it works like a dream! I used to have my cat meow at night when I go to bed, but now I can have a meow-free night. She knows her next meal will soon come and that I have no control over it. They can also be a great solution if you’re out of the house a lot and can’t regularly feed your cat yourself.
4. Increase Water Consumption
Cats must drink between 8 and 27 tablespoons of water a day to be adequately hydrated. But hydration aside, drinking more has another huge benefit: this hydration level will also help your furry friend feel fuller without needing more food!
The problem is that cats don’t often feel the urge to drink as we do, so dehydration is a common issue. Try having multiple water dishes spread around the house in places your kitty frequents. Adding water to wet food or providing moving water, such as through a fountain, is also a great way to increase your cat’s water consumption.
5. Change Feeding Location
As humans, we spend a lot of time in our kitchens preparing food, cleaning the dishes, and going in for drinks and snacks. When our cats’ food bowl is in the same place, it can make them think they’ll receive food whenever we enter the kitchen.
A simple way to fix this is to move your kitty’s food bowl to somewhere in the house that you don’t go very often. Also, get into the habit of removing and washing the dish once it is empty, so your cat doesn’t become fixated on an empty bowl.
6. Ignore Begging Behavior
Although it can be challenging, one of the simplest ways of deterring your cat is to ignore their begging behavior. Either pretend your feline is not there or walk away from the situation entirely. They will soon become bored and move on to something else.
If you find you can’t ignore your cat, try playing with them and showing them some love every time they beg instead. They will soon learn that this will be the outcome of their vocalizations rather than more food in their bowl.
7. Provide Stimulation & Enrichment
Making sure your home provides plenty of stimulation and enrichment for your kitty should help to reduce begging due to boredom. Holding a couple of sessions a day where you shower your cat in love can go a long way in achieving this. Cat trees are also an excellent way to keep your cat entertained while you’re unavailable.
Getting a puzzle bowl would also be a great idea, as they help provide your kitty with the mental stimulation they crave during mealtimes. These bowls make cats work for their food and help slow down their eating, which will help your cat feel entertained and fuller for longer.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
To summarize, finding yourself thinking, “My cat is always begging for food,” is not uncommon among cat owners. It could be that your kitty has an undiagnosed medical condition that causes them to feel hungry constantly. Or maybe they’re just bored and seeking a pleasurable way to pass the time.
Whatever the cause, following my top tips should help you be free of this unwanted behavior in no time. And if in doubt, it’s always okay to reach out to a professional for help.