Why Is My Cat Always Hungry?

If your cat is regularly fed yet continually cries at her food bowl or begs for your food, there’s something going on. She may be bored, have an underlying medical issue or she may not be getting the nutrients she needs. Weight loss, in spite of a hearty appetite, can also signal a problem. If your cat’s hunger can’t be satiated, see your vet for an exam.

Vet examining a cat with its owner
Ask your vet about the best food for your cat's health needs.
credit: 4774344sean/iStock/Getty Images

Unbalanced Diet

Not all commercial cat foods are created equally, and your cat may be constantly hungry because she isn’t getting the nutrition she needs. Ask your vet to recommend a high-quality, nutritiously balanced diet for your cat that’s appropriate for her age and activity level. If you live in a multi-cat house with animals that have different nutritional needs, feed them separately to ensure they all get the dietary staples they need. Separate feeding also ensures one cat isn’t “stealing” food from another, or that other household pets, such as dogs, aren’t getting into the cat food bowl.

Diabetes in Cats

Cats with diabetes don’t produce enough insulin to balance their blood sugar levels. An insatiable appetite paired with excessive thirst and weight loss can be symptoms of diabetes. The disease is most prevalent in cats who are overweight to begin with. Your vet can diagnose diabetes through blood and urine tests and might prescribe a low-sugar diet paired with insulin therapy.

Hyperthyroidism in Cats

Your cat may have a thyroid problem, often caused by high levels of the thyroid hormone thyroxine in the bloodstream. Much like diabetes, signs of hyperthyroidism include excessive hunger and thirst accompanied by weight loss. A blood panel and urinalysis help diagnose the problem. Depending on the severity of the disorder and your cat’s health history, your vet may recommend removing the thyroid gland or using medication to correct the problem. Another treatment option is radioactive iodine therapy -- a pricey procedure that’s typically effective, but it requires a hospital stay of up to two weeks.

Psychological Problems

Cats can develop “food issues” and become obsessive about mealtime. They may pester owners when human meals are prepared and consumed, and they may require behavioral training to alter the behavior. For example, your vet may recommend feeding your cat only in a secluded part of the house, such as the basement, or putting your cat in another room when you make and eat your own food.

Other Medical Issues

Some medications can make your cat hungrier than usual, including corticosteroid drugs and some anti-seizure medications. Excessive hunger could be a sign of pregnancy. Stress, anxiety and boredom can also lead to cries for more food. Take your kitty to the vet to narrow down the problem and get the issue resolved.