Does it seem that your Maine Coon never gets its fill of food? While liking food perhaps a little too much is not necessary a bad thing, it can also be a sign of issues with the food itself or health issues or mental problems related to the cat itself.
Reasons why your Maine Coon is always hungry
Sure, this cat breed is larger than most domestic cat breeds. And as such, they need to eat more food compared to their peers from different breeds. But if your cat is constantly cajoling you for more, it is imperative to look at the food you are giving him.
More often than not, food-related issues are no major cause for concern and can be easily rectified once you identify the source of the problem.
1. Food quality
Some pet owners think that they are saving a ton of money by giving their pets low-quality food. But those savings can translate to more costs over the long term, in the form of more food consumption or worse, health problems.
If your Maine Coon is always hungry, it may be that the food you give him does not provide him with the vital nutrients that he needs to grow and thrive. So make sure that the dietary needs of the cat are full filled by the food he gets.
2. Portion sizes
If you have been giving your cat quality food, the next thing that you should look at is the quantity of food that you give your pet. Unlike other cat breeds that enter adulthood after one to two years, the Maine Coon continues to grow anywhere between three to five years of age which means that your cat needs more food to sustain its growth.
If you are unsure how much food to give to your Maine Coon, your veterinarian can provide you with much-needed guidance, especially in terms of the appropriate portion sizes based depending on his stage of growth and development.
3. Food bowl
Another potential reason why your cat seems to be always hungry is that you are using the wrong type of food bowl. Cats, including Maine Coons, can be too particular with their food bowls. And when they have issues with their food bowls, they might not eat until they are satiated or they can totally ignore their food.
One common issue associated with food bowls is cleanliness. If the food bowl seems to be dirty or smells a little off because you just bought it, he may not touch his food or eat just a little. You should wash new food bowls and also after each mealtime to keep the bowl clean and free from unwanted odors. Ideally, you should choose a food bowl made out of stainless steel. The material is easy to clean and rarely causes allergy issues.
Also check the size of the food bowl. The food bowl should be wide enough such that his whiskers do not touch the sides of the bowl. A cat’s whiskers are sensitive. And when these touch the food bowl, he may eat too little due to the discomfort.
4. Eating schedule
Cats are notorious for being creatures of habit. And your Maine Coon is no different, especially in terms of feeding time. What this means is that if you keep a set schedule for meals, your pet becomes trained to follow that routine. More importantly, a scheduled feeding time gives your cat’s body ample time to prepare to eat. And as such, he will expect you to cover your end of the transaction: feed him at regular intervals.
5. Food formulation
Pet food manufacturers sometimes change the formulation of their products without informing their customers. While that may not be necessarily bad, even the slightest change in the pet food formulation can throw off your feline’s feeding habits. Changing the formulation is one thing. Failure to inform customers is another thing. And it does not help that cats are finicky when it comes to their food.
Mental health issues
Cats can deal with mental health issues which can affect their feeding habits. If you have ruled out food and health-related issues out of the equation, it is worthwhile to check your darling pet’s mental health.
Boredom can result in odd, sometimes destructive behavior. This is why it is essential to give your cat an outlet for him to keep his boredom at bay and stimulate his feline senses.
Sometimes, boredom can manifest itself in the form of begging for food.
Here, your cat is not necessarily hungry. He is just looking for a way to get out of his rut. Playing with him and giving him new toys can solve this issue.
2. Stress or Depression
Like humans, cats can use food as a coping mechanism for their stress or depression. An upset cat may become unusually hungry because it is trying to cope with a new or difficult situation.
Try to identify the thing that is causing distress in your feline.
It may seem far fetched, but sometimes, physical health issues can manifest themselves in the form of your Maine Coon constantly begging for more food.
Here are a few underlying issues that cause your cat to ask for more servings of food.
Some cats seem to go on overdrive when eating their meals which can lead to to a cat barfing the meal he just recently consumed. You are then left with a big mess that you need to clean up and a hungry cat just a few hours after.
Fortunately, there are a few strategies that you can enforce to slow down your cat while eating. Slow feeders prevent a cat’s gulping behavior. Apart from slowing your cat’s food consumption, these products stimulate your pet’s mind.
Automatic cat feeders are also a good way to curb this unwanted behavior in your feline. With an automatic feeder, your cat is given smaller but more frequent meals. Just be sure to choose a feeder that has a portion control option.
However, you do not necessarily have to buy new products to prevent your cat from regurgitating his meals. You can use an unconventional food container that you may have in your house, like a baking pan you no longer use. Spreading the food all over the pan encourages your cat to slow down his eating while he moves around to get to the next bits of food.
You can complement your cat’s new food bowl with toys that will serve as obstacles. Place toys like tennis or golf balls on the food bowl. Before your cat can scarf down his food, he will have to work his way around the obstacles.
Part and parcel of keeping a cat is dealing with hairballs, especially if you have a long-haired breed like the Maine Coon. Usually, cats eliminate hairballs by regurgitating these or passing these through their stools. However, some cats cannot eliminate their hairballs. Instead, these balls of fur end up in their digestive tracts. When this happens, your pet’s ability to digest food and get nutrients is compromised. You end up with a hungry cat constantly begging for food.
For this furry problem, you need to get to the bottom of the issue. This can mean brushing your pet’s fur regularly. You might even want to consider getting a shorter haircut for your Maine Coon to stop shedding. Other pet owners take it to the extreme by giving them a complete shave in the form of a lion cut.
Pregnant and nursing cats are almost always hungry. And reasonably so, considering they are eating for more than one. If your Maine Coon was just recently in heat and came into contact with a tomcat, you may want to go to the veterinarian to confirm if your pet is pregnant or not.
Pregnancy increases your pet’s metabolism. Plus, your cat needs more nutrients to sustain the development of her kittens. Lactating cats also need to consume more food so that they can produce more milk for their offspring.
During this period, your vet may prescribe kitten food to your adult cat. Kitten food is filled with calories that are vital for the needs of your pet and her brood.
The combination of the Maine Coon’s size and its high activity level makes this breed’s metabolism considerably higher compared to other breeds. Additionally, this breed matures slower, reaching maturity years later than many other breeds.
If you have ruled out all the previously mentioned possible causes of your pet’s unusual level of hunger, you should bring your feline for a consultation with your vet. Your cat’s inability to feel full for a substantial amount of time may be caused by a medical issue like diabetes, parasites, hyperthyroidism or cancer.
Big appetite for a big cat
An adult Maine Coon can get as long as over three feet. Males can weigh as much as 18 pounds while females can weigh as much 12 pounds. Simply put, this breed grows large, considerably larger than many cat breeds. Along with that size and heft comes a big appetite. But there is a difference between a big appetite and an inability to become sated.
If you encounter this issue, your best bet is to run through all the potential causes mentioned above and ultimately take your cat to the vet to find the cause for its unhealthy appetite.
Image: istockphoto.com / Nils Jacobi