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Get to the Root of your Cat's Stress Eating

Figure out why your feline friend is chowing down and put an end to their stress eating!

While being showered with affection is nothing short of enjoyable for your furry friend, if they're running to their food bowl as soon as you arrive it could be a sign that something's up. While certainly adorable at first glance, this behavior may indicate underlying stress.


Have you ever found yourself reaching for a late-night pint of ice cream when life has been stressful? Your feline friend may do something similar—it's called affection eating. That’s right, cats eat beyond their usual needs to get emotional comfort and fulfillment due to underlying stress or anxiety they might be feeling - just like us! So next time your kitty is scarfing down that bowl of food while simultaneously getting petted by you know that it could be their way of self-soothing.

When an unexpected event like your sister visiting for a week pops up or your work hours shift, you may consider it no more than a minor inconvenience. But don't forget that even small changes can be quite the ordeal to cats.


Being a good cat parent requires not only showering your fur baby with love, but also being mindful of their mental well-being. Stress in cats is often subtle and hard to detect—the more familiar you are with your feline friend’s normal behaviors the easier it'll be for you to spot any changes that could indicate stress.

Signs of stress in a cat can be the normal things we associate with an upset cat such as hissing, swatting, biting, and being more aggressive towards other animals and/or humans. But it also includes behaviors such as withdrawing more often, not being as affectionate, being more vocal, vomiting, diarrhea, urinating outside the litter box, excessive grooming, and a decrease in appetite.


If your cuddly companion has been displaying an unusually voracious appetite, it's time to get them checked out. Your vet should be able to rule out any medical conditions that could be causing their eating habits such as parasites, diabetes, IBD, and hyperthyroidism - all of which can result in increased appetites. Additionally age-related effects or the side effects from certain medicines may play a role too! An early diagnosis will help keep everyone happy for many years to come.


Once medical issues have been ruled out, there are several steps you can take to address the behavior:


Play

Give your cat the activity they crave! Daily interactive play sessions can help reduce stress and give them an outlet to act on their natural hunting instincts. Ten minutes of fun goes a long way in promoting good mental health for your furry friend.


Puzzle Feeders

Keep your pal engaged and entertained with interactive toys that make mealtime fun. Making them work for their food can reduce boredom while providing a healthy dose of mental stimulation.


Schedule

Give your cat a regular schedule that can be counted on - it will keep them feeling safe and secure, reducing tensions and worries. Establishing structure for your kitty is one of the best ways to provide peace-of-mind!


Up High

With their natural instinct to stay vigilant, cats love having high altitude vantage points in the home. Provide your feline family member with a safe place where she can survey her kingdom and ward away any potential threats by getting cat trees or shelves for maximum vertical space!



Hideaway

Create cozy hideaways for your cat to feel secure in times of fear. Comforting beds and cardboard dens are some options - just make sure they're situated away from loud, bustling areas! Providing a peaceful refuge is key to keeping them calm during stressful moments.


Weight

It's also important to monitor your cat's weight, since over eating and weight gain can cause health problems and affect their quality of life.


Professional Help

If your kitty isn't responding to the changes you've made, it might be time to explore new options. Consider talking with an expert - like a feline behavior counselor or veterinary behaviorist who can help craft solutions tailored for your cat's unique needs! But most of all: don't forget patience and understanding should take precedence throughout this process.

All cats have individual personalities and preferences, so it's important to tailor your approach to their specific needs. If you are unable to solve the issue on your own, please work with your veterinarian and/or feline behavior counselor to develop a customized plan that addresses your cat's specific needs.


Did you know we offer FREE feline behavior counseling? Reach out today!


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