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What is Increased Appetite?

Whether polyphagia is due to disease or psychological reasons, it is essential that you discover the exact nature behind your cat's increased appetite. A long-term complication with overeating can have dangerous effects on your cat's health and wellbeing.

Polyphagia is a term used to describe a substantial increase in appetite and food consumption. There are few diseases known to increase your cat's appetite, so the range of possible diagnoses is relatively small. However, physical ailments alone are not the sole causes, as a psychological issue can also have your cat increasing the amount of food it consumes.

Increased Appetite Average Cost

From 319 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,000

Symptoms of Increased Appetite in Cats

Including being aware of an increased appetite, there are a number of other signs that you should watch out for that may indicate your cat is suffering from another problem:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Abnormal weight gain/loss
  • Obesity
  • Vomiting (fast eating can lead to throwing the food up immediately after)
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle atrophy (decreased muscle mass)
  • Large, protruding stomach
  • Change in behavior (e.g. obsession with food)
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Causes of Increased Appetite in Cats

A handful of complications can serve as the root cause of your cat's new eating habits. Some of the common causes of an increased appetite are listed below:

  • Behavioral issues (e.g. overfeeding)
  • Pregnancy
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Cushing's Syndrome (Hyperadrenocorticism)
  • Certain medications
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Insulin-producing tumors
  • Malabsorption/maldigestion of food
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Diagnosis of Increased Appetite in Cats

To begin to discover the cause of an increased appetite in your cat, your veterinarian will want to conduct a full physical examination. Furthermore, he or she will want to gather a complete medical history and a list of current medication, as that information can be highly important in determining whether the heightened appetite is due to a physical illness or a psychological response. Informing your vet of any changes in your cat's behavior can also greatly help in diagnosing the issue at hand.

After the initial evaluation, your vet will recommend a variety of screening tests. A complete blood count (CBC) can detect any infections or anemia. It can also reveal certain clues of conditions like Cushing's Syndrome or diabetes mellitus. Those with Cushing's often have an increase in white blood cells, while those with diabetes may suffer from a secondary infection that can also increase specific white blood cells, all of which can be seen once conducting a CBC. Further concerning Cushing's disease, a screening known as a low dose dexamethasone suppression test can help in diagnosing it.

A serum biochemistry profile can be used to evaluate the general health of your cat as well as to assess the function of vital organs. This test is usually best performed alongside a urinalysis as the urinalysis is vital in interpreting any changes found on the serum biochemistry profile. In addition, a urinalysis can detect the sugar found in urine which can help indicate diabetes.

There are a few additional tests that may be explored, such as an X-ray or an ultrasound of your cat's abdomen. Focusing on age, older and middle-aged cats are recommended to undergo a serum thyroid hormone (T4) level test. The test can check whether or not hyperthyroidism is a cause of the increased appetite.

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Treatment of Increased Appetite in Cats

Once the actual cause of your cat's increased appetite has been rooted out, your vet will discuss with you the best course of action to treat the problem.

Change in Diet

Upon the diagnosis of a disease like IBD, low-fat and easily digestible food may help to improve the condition alongside medication. If the cause is determined to be purely behavioral, then your vet will propose you begin better monitoring your cat's food intake. To assist in curbing overeating, it is helpful to regulate the amount of food your cat consumes in one sitting. This can be done by breaking down their meals into several separate feedings throughout the day.

In the event that a pregnancy is behind the increased appetite, a diet change can help manage the overeating. You can provide your pet with food high in calories as they need that the most during the end of their pregnancy as well as during nursing.

Medication

A condition such as Cushing's Syndrome may require the use of specific medication in order to control the disease. In the case of diabetes mellitus, if diet change is not enough, then your vet will recommend the use of insulin injections to help treat it. Additionally, concerning diseases like IBD, your vet can prescribe antibiotics or steroids if a dietary change fails to improve the problem.

As certain medications can also cause an increased appetite, then your vet may encourage you to steadily discontinue use of the medication if it is possible.

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Recovery of Increased Appetite in Cats

Once a cause has been found and you and your vet have come up with the best treatment plan, then it is best to stick to said plan in order to properly assist in your cat's recovery. When it comes to a diet plan, your vet can help you choose good quality cat food that can help your pet take in the appropriate amount of daily metabolic requirements. Try to avoid overfeeding, especially in the case of treats for good behavior as that can lead to your cat developing an obsession with food.

Medication should also be given as prescribed. For instance, if your cat has been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, then they must undergo daily insulin injections if they have been prescribed by your vet. Adherence to the plan laid out by your vet is important in improving the welfare of your cat. Be sure to schedule frequent follow-up appointments, as a re-evaluation can help indicate whether or not your cat's condition has improved or worsened.

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Increased Appetite Average Cost

From 319 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,000

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Increased Appetite Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Burmese Cat

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Increase In Appetite

My Female Burmese Cat is obsessed with food, Eats food really fast (sometimes making grunting noises), begs for food, and has gained weight. I don't know why and am wondering if something serious could be going on. We only feed her at morning and night and she is on healthy weight food and we are feeding her the recommended amount, about 2 months ago we used to leave food out all day as I have a male cat who isn't really interested in food all that much but now we feed them every morning and night separately.

July 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, there are certain diseases that can cause your cat to want to eat more. Parasites are one thing that is very common. Your vet can check your cat for these diseases and start him on treatment. Some cats just love to eat and have nothing better to do but eat. It would be best to measure out your cat's food and only feed a certain amount to try to keep him from getting overweight.

July 30, 2020

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Bicolor female cat

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Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Always Hungry Ump On Right Side

Obsessed with food. Eats a lot but doesn't gain weight

July 26, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. I would recommend having an appointment scheduled with your veterinarian and have blood work performed. Hyperthyroidism is a common disease in older cats that causes their metabolism to speed up, them to become much more hungry, but not gain any weight. If bloodwork is normal your veterinarian may recommend abdominal imaging to make sure the G.I. tract looks normal.

July 26, 2020

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I don't know

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6 Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Increase In Appetite, Chewing On Everything

My vet said it is all behavioral after he went in a month or two ago because he got tested for urinating outside of the liter box (everything came back negative). I haven't changed his food in 2 years. He gets fed 3x a day yet he still chews on everything trying to get attention to get more food. Been trying to cut back on his food but he won't let me.

July 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Ellen M. DVM

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Hello, thank you for your question. I am sorry to hear that your cat has been having an increased appetite. Without examining your cat, I can't know for sure what might be going on. Some things that can cause an increased appetite are kidney disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and intestinal parasites. I'm not sure what all testing was done when he was urinating outside of the litter box, but I would recommend talking to your vet about running blood work to check the kidneys, thyroid and blood sugar, as well as checking a fecal sample to rule out intestinal parasites. If this all comes back normal, it very well might be behavioral. I actually have a cat who is constantly begging for food as well. If this is the case, I recommend consulting with a behaviorist about ways to enrich your cat's environment to keep him entertained and less preoccupied with food. You can also look into "foraging" which is where you hide food around the house instead of giving him his meal in a bowl so that he has to "hunt" for it. This is great for cats both mentally and physically. However, I would rule out all medical possibilities before treating it as a behavioral issue. Best of luck! I hope that all goes well.

July 14, 2020

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I don't know

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6 Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Increase In Appetite, Chewing On Everything

My vet said it is all behavioral after he went in a month or two ago because he got tested for urinating outside of the liter box (everything came back negative). I haven't changed his food in 2 years. He gets fed 3x a day yet he still chews on everything trying to get attention to get more food. Been trying to cut back on his food but he won't let me.

July 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There are many really good prescription diets to help cats feel more full and eat less, as that is a challenge for anyone. It may be a good idea to discuss those diets with your veterinarian, as well as see if he needs to have his thyroid checked. I hope that everything goes well for him.

July 14, 2020

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I don't know

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Six Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Increase In Appetite, Chewing On Everything When Not Given Food

They tested him a few months ago when he was urinating outside of his litter box but all those tests came back normal. I told them about the increase in appetite too and they told me it was all behavioral. They gave me ideas of what to do when he gets hungry but now it seems like his hunger is getting out of control. He chews on everything to get my attention. I haven't changed his food in 2 since he needed to lose weight. He is getting fed 3 times a day with 1/4 cup each time (I am trying to cut it down to two times a day or do 1/2 a 1/4 every time).

July 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello Your cat may need to have his thyroid levels checked. An elevated thyroid level can cause an increase in appetite. It is recommended that you take him to a veterinarian for an exam and lab work. Good luck.

July 14, 2020

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Charlie

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tabby

dog-age-icon

11 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Weepy Eyes
Increased Apetite

We recently just made a move across the country (3 months ago) and one of our cats has since lost so much weight but is still eating fine with a higher demand. He has started meowing and begging for food. He is 11 and is 1 of 3 strictly indoor kitties. Food is still the same which is Acana dry kibble and Blue Buffalo wet. They all split 2 cans of wet a day. His energy level seems normal and he is still snuggly. He's done this before after a move and bounced back quickly. When we took him to the vet, they diagnosed him with feline herpes which was stress induced so we figured this was the same deal but now since its been so long, we're a bit worried. Any ideas or experience?

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Guppy

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American Shorthair

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11 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Coughing

We just moved about 3 weeks ago. The first week my cat guppy was fine however I’ve noticed a huge increase in appetite. At first she was just climbing on her bag of food and talking to me. But then it escalated to her chewing holes in the cat food bag and now she’s even trying to steal food from my takeout containers and off my plate. She’s constantly asking for food. But she also has horrible diarrhea like 4 times a day I don’t know what’s wrong. I originally thought the diarrhea was caused by the tap water here because it gave the husky puppy who lives here diarrhea but she hasn’t has tap water in 4 days now.

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Pandora

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Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Lethargy
Hairloss On Ears

My 12 year old, indoor cat is losing weight quickly. She's usually sturdy and has a good appetite, but lately she has been looking for food compulsively and meowing for it constantly. I have not changed her brand of food nor the amount I'm giving her. She also has patches of fur missing from her ears. I took her to the vet thinking that maybe she had worms. Her blood work cleared as did her fecal sample. At most she had a slight fever that could have been caused from the stress of getting her there. Last year the same thing happened minus the hair loss. Her blood work cleared then too, so I gave her a dewormer before deciding to spent $1k on an ultrasound – needless to say, I no longer go to this vet. The dewormer worked, but now the same thing is happening. I live in a basement, but she's an indoor cat. Is it possible that she has stubborn parasites in her? I have another cat as well have dewormed them both, but my other cat never shows any symptoms.

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Sammy

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DOMESTIC

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargic
Always Hungry
Sudden Weight Gain
Innactive
Sad Looking
Decreased Intake

I went away for 2.5 weeks, and my friends agreed to look after both my cats. On my arrival my 5 years old boy cat looked really obese all of the sudden. He has a very large, tight belly. His behaviour seems abnormal too. Always hungry, but not eating much, lethargic, very slow movement, apathetic. He just doesn't look as lively as usual. Even his beautiful face looks sad now. I dewormed him a couple of days ago, but he just doesn't look right. My other cat is ok. Shall I go into full panic mode?

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Baby or fat fat

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Unknown

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Increased Appetite
Weight Gain
Lazy
Decrease In Activity

An outside cat adopted me last year and I was finally able to get him to coe inside over the summer, but he now has gained weight in the last few months and his appetite is crazy. If he's not sleeping he's begging for food. As far as his bathroom observations there aren't any, he always tells us when to let him outside for potty, play, or his pleasure. I have seen him drink water outside which obviously isn't clean water, he has no fleas, but there was a large tick but he scratched it off before I could remove it. I'm worried he has a blockage or worm or something worse. Only a possibility of serious problems would possibly convince my husband to get him to a vet rather then the pound. Please any help towards a diagnosis could help him.

Increased Appetite Average Cost

From 319 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,000

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