Is your kitten always hungry?
Kittens are always hungry as:
Kittens grow at a rapid pace. From the time they’re weaned until they are four months old, they should have food available 24/7.
After this, they should be given a feeding schedule with mealtimes 2-3 times daily. This will help them learn when food is coming, and helps prevent begging.
Being hungry is mostly normal and a sign of a healthy kitten, but sometimes it’s an indicator of health problems. If you’re concerned, you should speak with your veterinarian.
Kittens may also beg or eat extra out of boredom, past trauma, or poor training.
In this article, I’ll discuss what can cause a kitten to be constantly hungry, how much you should feed your growing kitten, and how to train them not to beg for food.
See Veterinarian to Rule out Medical and Dietary Problems
At this young age, you should be seeing your veterinarian regularly. If you think your kitten is behaving abnormally, speak to your veterinarian about it at your next appointment.
Although being constantly hungry is normal for kittens, especially those under four months, it can also be a sign of health problems such as parasites.
Veterinarians deworm kittens as a standard procedure, which is one of the reasons it’s so important to bring yours in for regular appointments.
Your veterinarian can also tell you how much your kitten should be eating, and if the food you’re giving them has proper nutritional value. If you’re concerned about the brand you buy, you can bring the packaging with you to show your vet.
Kittens who aren’t getting proper nutrition can get cravings just like we do, and that would make them seem hungry no matter how much they’re fed.
Feed your Kitten as much as they’ll eat as they’re growing
If your kitten is younger than four months old, you should be free feeding them. This means your kitten should always have access to food, rather than being fed on a schedule.
This is because cats are growing rapidly at this stage in their lives, and need the nutrients and calories to support their growth and activity levels.
Of course, keep in mind that you can’t leave wet cat food out constantly. The longest you should leave a can of food unrefrigerated is 20-30 minutes, depending on room temperature.
Instead, feed dry kitten food and supplement with wet food if you’d like to feed it.
Once your kitten reaches four months, you can begin a feeding schedule that will continue into their adulthood.
Kittens can Eat Extra if they’re Bored
Sometimes, kittens will eat because there’s nothing else to do. This is an easily solution and also a lot of fun! Who doesn’t like playing with kittens?
Every cat should get at least 30-45 minutes of play time split up throughout the day, regardless of their age. Your kitten may need more action than this, though.
Provide Plenty of Other Activities to Choose From
Also make sure that your kitten has things to do when you can’t play with them directly. Scratching posts and various types of independent play toys such as catnip toys, chasers, and track toys will keep your kitten occupied while you’re busy.
Playing with littermates or other household cats is great, but not necessarily enough on its own. Leaving your cats to entertain one another might turn into them causing mischief around the house, especially if they have to find their own “toys” to play with.
Kittens who have been Deprived of Food may Eat More
If your kitten comes from a rescue situation where they went hungry on the streets or due to abuse, they might be more obsessed with food than the average cat.
This is because they grew up learning that food was hard to come by, and they couldn’t depend on when their next meal would happen.
It’s important to have patience with your kitten if this is the case. Remember that it is trauma causing this behavior, and they just want to feel safe.
Feed your kitten consistent meals over time, and they may eventually grow out of their obsession with food. However, it might never go away completely.
Puzzle Toys Make Meal Times Longer and More Engaging
If your kitten is scarfing down food or constantly begging, puzzle toys can help make mealtimes last longer. They will also occupy your kitten’s brain and use up some of their energy.
There are many types of puzzle toys to choose from. I personally like the ones that can be arranged in differing ways the best, as they’re more reusable in my experience.
After all, your kitten will get faster when they do the same puzzle daily. They also will become bored and their brains won’t be challenged any longer. This eliminates the reasons you bought the toy in the first place!
Another solution is to buy many toys and switch them out frequently so they have many games to play, and never knows exactly what to expect.
Avoid Feeding your Kitten from your Plate
When my cat Pepper was a kitten, she climbed up on my lap and tried to steal food right off my plate! It was so funny, I had a hard time saying no to her.
Now, though, I’m glad I did. Six years later, I doubt it’d be so cute if she had continued.
You have to set expectations for kittens when they’re young so that they can learn the rules, and know how to live in your household into their adult years.
Even if you don’t and will never mind your cat stealing your food, it isn’t healthy for them either. Most human foods aren’t great for cats, and some are even toxic.
If you’d like to feed your kitten healthy “human food” such as unseasoned meat, this is a great idea. I recommend adding it to your kitten’s bowl at meal time or using scraps of it as treats when training.
They shouldn’t get used to stealing human food or excessive begging and nagging when it won’t be cute later. Some “human foods” such as unseasoned meats, are great for cats but should be fed in the cat’s bowl at mealtime ideally, or as a special treat during training.
Lay down the rules now that you want your kitten to follow through adulthood, because otherwise you’ll be stuck training out problematic behaviors that you started instead of simply starting with a good foundation
Training a Kitten not to Beg for Food
Once you’ve ruled out all other problems, you can train your kitten not to beg for food. The simplest way to do this is to avoid feeding your kitten human food.
Young kittens should have no reason to beg for food, as they should have access to it 24/7. However, once kittens reach 4 months old, you should get them on a feeding schedule.
Most people feed their cats 2-3 times daily, but what matters most is that you keep a consistent schedule and feed them at least twice a day. Cats can’t go 24 hours without eating any more than we can!
It’s also helpful to keep your kitten out of the kitchen when you’re preparing and eating food, and to feed them in a room that’s not your kitchen or dining area.
Once your kitten knows when their next mealtime will be, they’ll probably restrict their begging to an hour or less before it’s time to eat.
They’ll also learn that what’s on your plate is yours, and with consistency they’ll learn that begging is pointless, as it won’t get them their way.
As for begging around mealtimes, there’s just no way to combat that. When your kitten knows food is coming, they’re bound to get excited.
A good way to get that energy out, however, is playtime! Playing with your kitten 10-15 minutes before their meal is a great way to keep them occupied until dinner’s ready, and to schedule playtime into your already-existing routine.
Of course, how far you go to train your kitten not to beg depends on your preferences and lifestyle. People who are very annoyed by begging or have small children will have stricter rules than those who don’t mind begging or even feed their kitten the occasional table scrap.
The important thing is to train your kitten to act in the way you want them to as an adult—don’t change the rules on them at random!
I am a freelance writer who specializes in the pet industry. My full bio