Every cat owner knows the excited meowing, pleading stare, and rubbing against your legs on the way to the food bowl. But often, after feeding them, we hear that indistinguishable sound we know all too well, sending us running to clean up their vomit. Do you have one or multiple cats that eat too fast?
There are several ways to stop your cat from eating too fast. You can start with changing the brand of your cat food or treats. If it’s dry food, you will have to switch to canned. However, there are practical and innovative things you can do to help your cat without taking its favorite food away!
There is a reflex in your cat’s body that leads to regurgitation. This mostly happens with dry food, which absorbs water, swells, and triggers a signal that makes the cat overeat. Continue reading to find out what we can do to help our furry friends!
How Do You Make A Cat Eat Slower?
It is not uncommon for cats to get overly excited at feeding time. They can end up overeating themselves or eating too fast. If your cat has this problem, it may vomit after eating too fast, develop digestion issues, or become overweight. You, as a cat owner, may get frustrated and blame yourself. Do not worry, a lot of us feel the same!
You can ensure your cat eat slower and properly by using several creative alternative feeding techniques:
- Try a Nonconventional “Bowl”
Trying a Nonconventional bowl to feed your furry friend is the first and often the most simple option. With this method, your job is not to use a typical cat food bowl that your cat already may be familiar with.
You can spread the portion of food out on a 9- by 13-inch baking pan. This will space the food out markedly, leaving big gaps between the chunks of food or kibble. This forces your cat to take a bite, move along to another portion of the pan, and only then to be able to take another bite.
It slows the process from the typical bites your cat will take, leaving half of the bowl eaten. Most of the time, using Nonconventional bowls can slow the eating process down enough to resolve the problem!
- Place obstructions in your cat’s bowl
If your cat still eats too fast, or for those of you cat owners that do better with nonconventional bowls, adding some non-edible “obstacles” to your cat’s bowl can be beneficial.
These obstacles should be things that are too large for your cat to eat and swallow but maneuverable enough so that your kitty can nudge it around while trying to get at the food below it.
Common items include things like ping pong balls and golf balls. If you are adding a second layer to the 9- by 13-inch baking pan method, you can consider using larger balls such as tennis balls. They will not work well for feeders that can hold larger amounts of food and replenish themselves automatically.
- Use automatic cat feeders
Many automatic cat feeders offer a feeding strategy that might benefit your mental state and your cat’s physical state! You can set these feeders to open on a specific schedule and feed smaller meals frequently. This will help to prevent overeating and regurgitation.
However, many cat owners say that the automatic feeders are poor with portion control and are not recommended or appropriate for feeding most cats. They have noticed a drastic change in their cats’ weight control and appetite.
The best thing about automatic cat feeders would be that they generally have an ice pack below the bowl’s surface to keep canned food fresh all day long. This is perfect not only for the “gulpers” who eat their food in seconds, but it is also beneficial to kitties who just prefer being served fresh food multiple times per day!
- Incorporate toys during mealtimes
Using cat toys during mealtimes is also appropriate for stopping the gulping behavior. The toys will need to be pushed or swatted around into the correct position to release some of the food contained within. A ball with a small opening will work perfectly!
These cat interactive toy options have the additional benefit of exercise and mental stimulation, and it provides your hungry kitty with nutrition at the same time. This is also a good idea because it more accurately simulates how it would work if your cat had to “work” or “hunt” to get its meals in the wild.
The interactive toy technique will be the most effective if your cat is fed an appropriate portion of a restricted amount of food and fed once or twice a day, but not more.
- Try a slow feeding bowl
Special bowls with bumps and ridges at the base will slow your cat down while they are eating because the obstruction inside of the bowl will make it much more difficult for them to reach their food. Slow feeding bowls are also a good way for your kitty to kill boredom!
You can try different slow-feeder bowls that are shaped like mazes, making your cat work around the curves and grooves to get to their food. It is easy to use as you place your cat’s food in these slow feeders, so your kitty will have to solve a puzzle to get it!
- Hide your cat’s food!
This method will only work if you feed your cat dry food. You can hide small amounts of it around your house. Not only is this a creative way to stop your cat from eating too quickly, but it will also encourage them to explore their natural instinct to “hunt” for their prey.
- Turn feeding time into a game
There are many toys on the market that your cat will most definitely be into playing with! These toys are usually just regular cat toys, and they do not dispense cat food, such as the interactive cat feeding toys.
With this method, you will need to have some spare time with your kitty during feeding times. You can play games with your kitty, ensuring that they get enough exercise while eating some nutritious food.
- Squash wet food
This is a method that will work when you feed your cat canned food or wet food. You can place the wet food into a bowl and squash it with a fork to almost in a paste consistency.
This method will force your kitty to lick their food, which causes them to ingest it slowly and prevent them from eating large chunks of food in seconds.
- Dish out smaller meals in intervals
If you are at home most of the day, you could dish up small meals at different times during the day, rather than bigger meals twice or three times a day.
Even if you are out most of the day, you could even dish out your cat’s food gradually throughout the morning while you are getting ready for work. You can then repeat this process during the evening when you get home.
- Add water to your cat’s food before mealtimes
With this method, you will need to bulk out your kitty’s food with water. This will work with both dry foods as well as wet or canned food. By putting in some water in your cat’s food, your cat will take much longer to eat the food, and towards the end of their meal, it will make them feel fuller.
This is also a great way to increase your cat’s daily water intake, especially if your cat is poorly hydrated or if the weather is hot and your kitty needs some additional hydration!
- Feed your cat from different levels
You could feed your cat from a flat surface as well as a raised surface at the same time. If your cat’s food is spread out at different heights, it will reduce their ability to eat so fast.
- Changing your cat’s food brands or type
If you find that your cat is always vomiting their dry food, they may do better on a portion of wet food. When cats eat too quickly, they also eat too much because of signals missed in their brain activity. The problem with dry food is that it absorbs water and expands in your kitty’s digestive system.
Wet food does not have this problem and will not expand as much, so your kitty is less likely to overeat it. If you find that your cat is always throwing up their treats, it might be a good idea to change their treats to ones that consist of a different main ingredient.
If your cat is vomiting, no matter what type of food you provide them with, you will need to take them to the vet as soon as possible, as they could have serious digestive issues or allergy problems.
- Reduce food competition (if there are two or more cats)
If you have two or more cats and one of your felines eats faster than the other and then regurgitates the food, options are you have a kitty that has anxiety due to food competition.
Luckily, you have options other than having to get rid of one or more of your cats. What you can do is separate the cats when it is time to feed them, or you can feed them in separate rooms.
This will allow all of your furry friends to enjoy a stress- and competition-free meal and the chubby cat to eat its meal only. This action alone will benefit your cat, as it will keep it at a healthy weight.
The methods above will really benefit you tremendously if you have stepped on yet another pile of regurgitation or have tried to wash another carpet without being able to get rid of the vomit stains. There are certainly several options to choose from, and one or more will definitely work for your cat!
Why Do Cats Eat So Fast?
There are many reasons why your cat may be eating fast and finished a meal in a matter of seconds. When a feline gobbles its food like it’s its last meal in its life, this can become a situation that is unhealthy for your pet. The most common consequence of eating too fast is an eating disorder that consists of regurgitation of the food right after it has been eaten.
If you narrow the reasons down, it will give you an informed perspective and make it easier to get effective ways to stop it.
Below are the most common reasons why your cat may be eating too fast:
- Food competition, also known as territorial eating.
Food competition creates anxiety in cats, and it often happens when two or more felines have to share their food at home. A single cat will never urge to finish its meal fast because no threats could steal its resources in its territorial dominance.
In multi-cat households, a conflict between cats can occur when the more dominant cat steals the less dominant cat’s food. Cats are historically not meant to share territory or food, and when you put down a bowl with food, the faster eater needs to finish its meal as soon as possible in order to start eating the food from the second bowl.
This results in the other cat typically lose weight because of anxiety and insufficient nutrition sources. This eating behavior is unhealthy not only for the faster eater but also for the slow-eater, especially if it is a younger kitten who doesn’t get to eat enough during the crucial stages of development.
Territorial or competitive eating is especially true if the alpha of the group are hoarding the food, which will then cause the other cat or cats to eat as much as possible when they get the chance.
- You might be sitting with a pregnant cat!
This is one of the most simple and not-at-all dangerous reasons why your cat may be eating so fast. She may be hungry constantly because she has babies devouring all her food! If you suspect this is the case, take her to the vet for an exam, and change her dietary plan so she can get all the nutrients she and her babies need!
You can look for pregnancy in your cat if she starts acting more aggressive, if she is restless and looking for small spaces to sleep in, and of course, the increased appetite that comes with weight gain!
- Your cat is rescued
A rescued cat that has suffered malnutrition during its first years of age will be more likely to develop anxiety when it comes to its food resources. Cats will always adapt to their environment through behaviors and the lack of food in the first years of their development stages.
They will develop a “eat the food before it’s gone and never there again” mindset. In other words, cats that have suffered hunger in their early years will develop an adaptive behavior of eating fast.
- You are following the wrong eating schedule
Cats prefer eating several times during the day, especially kittens. Feeding your cat only once or twice a day will create excess feelings of hunger by the time the cat has the food available. This will cause your cat to develop the eating disorder of eating too fast.
If you have trouble comprehending this, think about yourself and your meals. If you do not eat all day and only eat dinner, you will probably eat too much and feel sick. This is why it is crucial to choose several frequent small meals for your furry friend!
- Your cat may be experiencing behavior issues
If you are an extremely busy or absent human companion, your furry friend may be over-eating due to boredom, loneliness, or sometimes even depression.
When you are consulting with your veterinarian, ensure that you remember to mention any major life changes, new additions to your household, or any other odd behaviors that you or your cat may be displaying.
- Overeating could be a symptom of an underlying medical issue
Certain medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism or Diabetes Mellitus, can cause an almost insatiable appetite for your cat. Diabetes prevents your feline friend from converting sugar to energy efficiently, where hyperthyroidism causes their metabolism to burn too many calories.
Bowel problems can also increase your cat’s appetite. Diseases like inflammatory disorders or intestinal cancer that impact the small intestine decrease your cat’s ability to process nutrients. Of course, this will result in an increased appetite, accompanied by extreme weight loss.
The pancreatic disease can also cause your cat to seem hungry all the time. Your cat’s pancreas produces enzymes that aids with the digestion process, but with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), the pancreas cannot do its job. This disease will cause your cat to experience an increased appetite, along with diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss.
If your cat is not usually eating fast or it was never a trait he always had, it is definitely time to visit the vet. Your cat may need to have a full exam and a complete blood panel, and the vet will provide you with a proper diagnosis and treatment plan!
- Your cat may be food-obsessed, which can cause or already be an addiction
Some cats just absolutely love eating, they are food lovers, and as soon as they notice food in their bowls, they will start gobbling it up without any self-control. When a cat is obsessed with its food, the main concern can become obesity and diabetes.
An obese and diabetic cat has urges to eat all the time and in large amounts. If your cat is overweight and eats too much, it is time to put it on a strict diet to re-educate its eating disorder.
The biggest problem comes when you notice your cat eating too much too late. Animals, just like us humans, can become addicted to eating, too. This is generally most common in cats on a wet food diet.
Your cat could be eating too fast because he really likes the way the food tastes. Once you have ruled out all other possible causes, a change in food brand or food type might be necessary.
- Your cat might have serious past trauma
If you have not rescued your kitty and adopted him from a breeder or person at a later age, you may have saved him from an abusive, stressful or neglectful environment, and he could have come with lasting trauma.
Past trauma can result in several different problems, including over-eating.
- Your cat may just be hungry
If you are a busy cat parent, you might be forgetting to feed your cat regularly. Your cat may not be getting enough food, so it is constantly over hungry.
If you suspect that this is the case, try increasing your cat’s mealtime portions a little. You can also divide the portion, feed it several small meals a day, and add an extra treat or a few extra treats to take the edge off the hunger!
- Inefficient diet
The food you might be providing your cat with could be a big factor in why they might be eating so fast. When cats are fed a low-quality diet, they are more likely to be deprived of essential vitamins and minerals.
Cat food with grains and additives as their main source can cause your cat to feel like it needs to eat more. This basically means that they are trying to compensate for all the nutrients that they are lacking.
But don’t worry, this is easy to fix by purchasing higher quality cat food, and maybe you were unaware you were buying low-quality food!
- Your cat may be struggling with parasites!
Many parasites, like tapeworms, attach themselves to your cat’s intestines and steal all of the nutrients that your pet is trying to take in. this can result in your cat not receiving the nutrition it needs.
As a result, it may cause them to eat more to make up the difference, but usually without any weight gain. If you suspect that your cat has tapeworms or any other type of parasites, you have to see that it gets treated immediately.
It is crucial to catch your cat having parasites in the early stages in order to prevent your cat from developing even more serious issues such as anemia.
What Happens When Your Cat Eats Too Fast?
“My cat eats too fast” is a common complaint told to veterinarians all over the world. When your cat eats too fast, it can not only lead to health problems but safety problems as well. This includes things like choking and not getting oxygen, gagging, or vomiting.
As a cat owner, it is important to know that your cat’s digestive system is not designed to eat fast, as their esophagus is horizontal rather than vertical. When your cat gobbles its meal, the food bounces against the lower esophageal sphincter instead of comfortably passing along.
This will cause the regurgitation of undigested food right after your cat has eaten it.
The cat’s digestive system is designed to receive the food slowly and in smaller portions. Eating too fast also creates stomach pain and discomfort in your gat due to excess gas.
When a cat inhales the food, it also eats too much air. Your cat’s digestive tract cannot process that amount of air or material that fast. It can also lead to aggressive behavior towards the cat owner because it can result in a little greediness from your cat’s side.
It is always a good and responsible thing to take your furry feline friend to the vet for a checkup if her behavior has changed or her eating habits seem off. Sometimes an underlying condition can be the cause, and if that is the problem, you will need to catch it sooner rather than later.
As cat owners, we only want to provide our dear kitties with the best possible nutrition and comfort. It is important to remember not to blame ourselves for some behavior problems and eating disorders, as it is simply the cycle of life and our ever-changing cats.
While there can certainly be many reasons why your vat could be overeating, there are steps you can take to help and cure them. by regularly visiting the vet and making use of the helpful tips above, you will easily be able to determine why your feline is always hungry and do whatever it takes to prevent them from eating too much and getting sick.
It is of utmost importance to make sure that your dear cat’s eating habits return to normal as soon as possible.
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