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Do Cats Over-eat?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
We've had Pixel now for 3 weeks (she's 4 months old), and she's been eating constantly. We have a 4.5 year old cat who has access to a bowl of dry food all the time. She never over-eats, so we haven't had to restrict her food. But Pixel grazes all day long, and her belly is getting BIG!

I thought it was due to her coming from a 4 cat family. When we picked her up, the woman said that they'd ran out of cat food the previous day. I was pretty unimpressed that her cats were going hungry, and I was happy to get our little kitten home and fed! I thought that she ate so much in the first little while because she had been hungry and now there was bountiful food. But that would've worn off after a while, wouldn't it?

Additionally, Pixel refuses to eat the kitten food we bought for her and eats Tak's food instead. I've been mixing the kitten food with the cat food so that she's eating SOME kitten food... but it seems unnecessary because she's eating so much anyway!

I'm supposed to take her to the vet next week for her booster shots, but I'm scared they'll weigh her and ask me what the heck I did to her in the past weeks!

Does anyone else have a cat that eats all the time? How do you regulate food for one cat and not the other?
post #2 of 17
Cats definitely will overeat - there wouldn't be any overweight cats if they didn't. Jaffa would eat anything I put down but his brother Magpie would have been happy to be a grazer I think. Mosi's less food motivated than Jaffa but he does like his food. Not sure whether he'd overeat left to his own devices or not but I can't leave food down because Jaffa would eat it all. I feed scheduled mealtimes and watch over them to make sure they each what they're given and not the other's.

I wouldn't worry too much about Pixel given how young she is - I'm not keen on restricting food to kittens under about 6 months - but keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn't gain too much weight. She may just be going through a growth spurt - Mosi grew up when I got him at 3 months then he got a bit chubby before growing upwards again. I assume she's wormed? A big belly can mean worms. Once she's a little bit older you might want to switch to fixed mealtimes for both your cats so that you can monitor how much they eat.

Has she been spayed yet? Neutering and Spaying tends to result in a slightly slower metabolism so neutered cats generally need less food than entire cats.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your reply!

She has been wormed, but not spayed yet. The vet told me that they wait until about 5 or 6 months before they spay. I'm not looking forward to it because it was such a sad time for Tak with her sore tummy.

I think that you make a good point about her growing. She has gotten SO big in the past little while! I guess I won't worry about it too much until after she's spayed and her growth starts to slow down.
post #4 of 17
My cats graze all day long as I leave a banquet tray full of dry food out for them. I have a set of baby scales that I weigh them with and carefully monitor their weight. Persi is still a kitten (10 months), so he is still growing but Alley has remained at the same weight since we go her six weeks ago. I am so thankful that I do not have to feed them separately, that would be difficult and I just do not know how others with many cats all on different diets can manage.
post #5 of 17
I wouldn't worry about it at her age. I've never restricted food for kittens and never had a problem. I have seen them gorge a bit when they've been under fed or without food for some reason (stray, etc). As long as she's still growing and not making herself sick, I would let her eat as she wishes.

Oh, and I have a Pixel too!
post #6 of 17
My cats graze all day too and none of them are fat. I think you're right in considering that she is just a growing kitten!
post #7 of 17
My darling was a huge overeater when I got her, and she didn't stop for 1.5 years! (she was an underweight stray, only 5 lbs at age 10 mns).

I switched her to a higher protein dry - California Natural and she immediately started to self-regulate her eating to "normal" consumption. It seems with the more-grain food she was eating and eating but not really get full/satisfied, but the good stuff she is getting now takes care of her needs. She is eating noticably less, and it is good on my pocketbook!

I don't know if Cal Nat makes a kitten food, but I suggest trying a higher protein dry kitten food.
post #8 of 17
yes my cat uno does that. it happens mostly when he is bored or had nothing to do. dont let that get into a habit as your cat can beome obese.
or maybe your cat is yound thats why he eat more.
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
I took Pixel to the vet today for her booster shots and I mentioned that she eats like a horse. The vet laughed and said she did feel a little chunky, but that she is growing and not to worry about it. So good advice, everyone.

Also, she went from 4lbs to 6lbs 9oz in 4 weeks!
post #10 of 17
According to Anitra Frazier you can avoid overfeeding if you only leave out food for 30 minutes and feed them only twice a day. The 30 minute rule does not work on my cat Spotty who nibbles and takes too long to finish his food. But I think there is a real benefit to cats only having food for a limited time and then having plenty of time in between meals, 8-12 hours in which there is no food, just water. My cats are overweight so I've been doing this with my own kitties. I may feed 3 or 4 small meals and I may leave food out longer than 30 minutes but I now allow 8-12 hours between the morning and evening meals in which there is no food, that means no snacking or grazing while I'm sleeping and nothing during the day between early morning after breakfast and evening.

I was also surprised to find out from Anitra Frazier's book and Dr Pitcairn's book that free feeding actually increases the risk of urinary tract disease, especially with dry food but also when food is available all the time because when cats smell food their urine becomes more alkaline. Studies have shown that many cats with UTIs have almost always had food available to them all the time while cats whose feeding area is kept very clean without the smell of food between meals much less likely to get a UTI.
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Oh wow! That's really interesting (and smart!) info about UTIs. I certainly don't want to have to go down that path with my girls, so I will keep that in mind. It may save a lot of cats and owners from UTIs, though! Smart researchers.

Pixel isn't overweight yet, and since she's still growing, I won't worry about limiting her food just yet. And my Tak sounds like Spotty! She's a nibbly and leisurely eater! I think I'll give it some more time and see how Pixel does...
post #12 of 17

That's why I don't like free feeding! Most cats will eat if food is available. And seems kittens like adult food; adults like kitten food. I just mix the two together

I've only had a few cats that would regulate their eating - most have a set amount. Ling and Charlie have to be regulated - Lings a bit on the heavy side and I know Charlie would be if he was allowed free feeding.

When I had my rexes, I used to have separate bowls for each and all of them got set amounts - the bowls were put in various places - floor, tree house, counter (in the cattery) - we had the basement as the cattery - built in counters in part. Tile floors.
post #13 of 17
To answer the original question, I think it depends on the cat (whether they will over eat or not).

I have 8 cats. Offered unlimited food, 6 of them self regulate fine. One of the 2 that doesn't is forgiven, as she is still growing and very active. In other words, she's not fat...but we'll see. The other one is 1.5 lbs overweight.

***slight hijack coming**

I personally don't agree with Pitcairn and Frazier on the theory that limited larger meals help a UTI prone cat. MOST other research doesn't agree with them either. The whole thing is based on the "alkaline tide" (high pH, bacteria/struvite crystal breeding ground) that occurs somewhere 3-6 hrs after the cat eats. In theory, just one meal will result in just one "tide" for the day...but the problem is it will be a huge tide, rather than a tiny one. The thought that smelling food causes a tide is quite a stretch, related to the idea that episodes of heavy breathing (not just smelling) also cause an alkaline tide. The other experts/researchers say that multiple small meals or free feeding is better for keeping the pH closer to normal...i.e. many small "alkaline tides" but no large ones.

In a cat that gets UTIs or other bladder issues from stress (which accounts for a lot of them), I believe that whatever method of feeding limits *that particular* kitty's stress is the method that should be used, whether that be 1 meal a day or 20 snacks.

Ok... End of hijack.
post #14 of 17
Puff will eat anything in sight. If you shake a bag he comes running. He acts like he's starving to be honest but he's one fat cat!

I have him on a diet of 1/2 wet 1/2 dry. He gets fed twice a day and a treat at night. All other times there is no food available. Of course I have one cat so I do not have to worry about another. My suggestion is to stop free feeding and put both cats on a schedule.
post #15 of 17
Oh my YES they will over eat!!! We have an outdoor cat that if we don't restrict his food, he'll eat DAYS worth within a day. Then my blue Persian Samson will also eat and eat and eat. I have to control his portions.
post #16 of 17
I think they can over-eat, having taken in a few overweight cats - mine would mainly over-eat with dry food though, all you have to do is catch the tin and they are all eager to eat, regardless of how long it was since they last ate. I agree that free feeding can contribute to UTI's, but not because of them being able to smell their food!!
post #17 of 17

My cat is a grazer. He has been all his life. Since he's old, (16 years old in June) he can gain weight fast because he's sleeping much more during the daytime than when he was younger. I only feed him twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the evening. He gets 1/3 cup for an entire day. That may not sound like a lot, but the Nature's Variety dry kibble in the Chicken flavor is his favorite and it's kind of rich since it's 50% protein, 22% fat and 2.8% fiber. The 1/3 cup keeps him at 11 1/2 pounds.


Hi,  I have male brown tabby colored no tail Manx cat named Tiger. He's my constant companion. He was a stray who came to the back door of my house on June 13th, 1998 and since I couldn't find his owners or anyone who wanted a cat, me and my wife let him stay. Three days later we took him to the vet and he said Tiger was about 1 year old judging from his teeth. We celebrate his birthday on June 13th and come this June 13th, he'll be 15 years old.  He's my constant companion since he follows me wherever I go in the house. He still plays, has all of his teeth and is the most friendliest cat I've ever known. He likes everyone including strangers. He doesn't mind going to the vet either. He's had a few minor operations in his lifetime, but he's champ. The vet has never seen a cat like him. The vet calls him "an amazing cat". As long as I'm there, the vet can do whatever he wants to do with Tiger. He was shaved, given a local, cut open to remove a cyst, stitched up and sent home with me on two separate occasions. No fuss from Tiger.

Edited by Night Wing - 4/30/13 at 7:42am
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