How To Tell If Cat Is Hungry?

Disclaimer: The information presented below is for general informational & educational purposes only. Always consult with animal professionals in case of specific concerns.

In this post, I’ll explore some common behaviors cats exhibit when their hunger strikes. 

As a feline owner, one of the most common questions I get is “how do I know if my cat is hungry?” It can sometimes be tricky to read our furry friends and decipher what their meows and behaviors really mean. Discerning when Fluffy is genuinely in need of food versus just wanting some attention can help prevent overfeeding while still keeping your cat happy and healthy. In this post, I’ll share some of the key signs that can indicate true hunger in cats, as well as some tips for interpreting their hunger levels. By understanding your cat’s signs of hunger, you can avoid letting an overly vocal kitty manipulate you into an extra meal. Let’s explore how to tell when feeding time is really needed.

How To Tell If Cat Is Hungry?

Increased Agitation: If your cat seems unusually agitated, pacing around more than usual or being extra vocal, it may be a sign of hunger.

Frequent Visits to the Food Dish: If your cat keeps going back and flipping its food bowl, it might be trying to draw your attention and tell you that it’s time for a meal.

Excessive Licking or Pica: A hungry cat might start licking non-food items such as eating cardboard or chewing wood. 

Early Meal Begging: If your cat is begging for its next meal hours in advance, it’s a clear sign that it’s hungry. 

Unexpected Aggression: Sudden, uncharacteristic aggression can also be a sign that your cat is hungry.

Overeating When Food is Given: If your cat tends to gobble down meals super quickly and then looks for more, it might be a sign of not getting enough food.

Excessive Affection: Cats are smart and might ramp up their affection when they’re hungry to get your attention.

Weight loss: If you notice your cat losing weight unexpectedly, it could be a sign that it’s not getting enough to eat. Always consult with a vet if your cat is losing weight.

Do Cats Have A Specific Feeding Schedule?

Yes, cats do benefit from a specific feeding schedule. Consistency in feeding times can help regulate their digestion and maintain optimal health. Adult cats typically thrive on two meals per day, one in the morning and one in the evening. Kittens require more frequent feeding, usually three to four times per day, due to their rapid growth and high energy demands. However, the exact feeding schedule can vary depending on the cat’s age, health status, and specific dietary needs. Always consult with a vet to establish the best feeding routine for your feline companion. It’s essential to remember that abrupt changes in a cat’s feeding schedule can cause stress and lead to health issues, so any modifications should be made gradually.

Can Cats Overeat If They Are Constantly Hungry?

Yes, it’s possible for cats to overeat if they are constantly feeling hungry. This is typically seen in cats who have unrestricted access to food, also known as free feeding. While some cats can manage with this style of feeding, others might overindulge, leading to weight gain and associated health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and arthritis. It’s important to monitor your cat’s eating habits and maintain the portion to prevent overeating. If your cat is consistently showing signs of hunger despite being fed adequately, it could be a sign of underlying health issues and should be addressed with a veterinarian.

How Much Food Should I Be Feeding My Cat?

Understanding the right amount of food to feed your cat can be a bit challenging, as it depends on several factors, such as the cat’s age, weight, activity level, and overall health status. As a general guideline, an average-sized adult cat requires about 200 to 250 calories per day, which can typically be met with approximately 1/2 to 1 cup of dry cat food or 1/2 to 3/4 can of wet food per day. Kittens, being more active and growing rapidly, need more calories and should be fed a kitten-specific formula that is high in protein and fat. Feeding a cat after surgery or an overweight cats may require a specialized diet and portion sizes, which should be determined by a vet. It’s also important to remember to measure the cat food as your cat ages or its activity level changes. Always consult with a vet to determine the best dietary plan for your individual cat. Daily food intake should be monitored closely to prevent obesity and ensure optimal health.

What Are Some Common Mistakes People Make When Feeding Their Cats?

Feeding your cat is a crucial aspect of their overall health and well-being. Here are some common mistakes people make when feeding their cats:

Feeding Dog Food to Cats: While it might seem convenient to feed your cat the same food as your dog, this is a big mistake. Cats have unique dietary requirements that dog food does not meet, such as the need for taurine, an essential amino acid for cats.

Neglecting to Measure Food Portions: Free-feeding or simply filling up the bowl whenever it’s empty can lead to overeating and obesity. It’s vital to measure out the correct food portion based on the cat’s weight, age, and health status.

Frequent Diet Changes: Constantly changing your cat’s food can lead to digestive upset and picky eating habits. If a diet change is necessary, it should be done gradually over a week or more to allow the cat’s digestive system to adjust.

Not Considering Age-Specific Needs: Cats can have different nutritional needs and there are differences between kitten and cat food. Feeding an inappropriate diet for your cat’s life stage can lead to nutritional imbalances and health issues.

Ignoring the Importance of Regular Vet Checkups: Regular vet visits are essential not just for vaccinations and check-ups, but also for monitoring your cat’s weight and adjusting the diet as necessary. A vet can provide personalized advice based on your cat’s specific health needs.

Overreliance on Dry Food: While convenient, dry cat food often lacks the moisture content of wet food. Cats on a dry-only diet may not get enough hydration, potentially leading to urinary tract issues.

Read more: How To Soften Dry Cat Food?

How Often Should I Change My Cat’s Food?

Deciding how often to change your cat’s food depends heavily on their health, age, and food preferences. As a general rule, it’s not recommended to regularly switch your cat’s food as it can lead to digestive issues and picky eating habits. However, it might be necessary when transitioning from kitten to adult food, introducing a special diet due to health issues, or changing brands. Any alteration should be done gradually, over a week or more, mixing the old food with the new to avoid gastrointestinal upset.

Can Cats Have Food Allergies That Can Cause Them To Act Hungry?

Yes, cats can have food allergies that might cause them to act hungry. Food allergies in cats can lead to a variety of symptoms, including gastrointestinal issues like vomiting, diarrhea, and increased appetite. This happens because their bodies might not be properly absorbing the nutrients they need, causing them to feel persistently hungry. Common food allergens for cats include fish, chicken, beef, dairy, and grains. If your cat is showing signs of a food allergy, they should be evaluated by a vet. 

What Are Some Tips For Keeping Your Cat’s Weight And Appetite In Check?

Maintaining a healthy weight and managing your cat’s appetite is essential for their overall well-being. Here are some tips to help keep your cat’s weight and appetite in check:

  • Monitor Food Intake: Keep track of how much your cat eats daily. If they’re gaining weight, you may need to adjust their portion sizes.
  • Regular Exercise: Encourage your cat to engage in physical activities, such as playtime or interactive cat toys, to help burn off calories.
  • Serving Controlled Portions: Instead of free-feeding, provide specific meal times with controlled portion sizes to prevent overeating.
  • Choose High-Quality Food: Opt for nutritionally balanced, high-quality cat food. Foods with high protein and low carbohydrates can help maintain a healthy weight.
  • Limit Treats: Cat treats should make up no more than 10% of your cat’s daily caloric intake. Overindulgence can lead to weight gain.
  • Regular Vet Checkups: Regular visits to the vet are essential to monitor your cat’s weight and overall health status. The vet can provide personalized advice and diet plans if necessary.
  • Consider Dietary Changes: If your cat is overweight or has a voracious appetite, discuss with your vet about switching to a diet food specially formulated for weight management.
  • Hydrate: Ensure your cat has constant access to drink water. Hydration is key for overall health and can help control appetite.
  • Avoid Feeding Human Food: Human foods can be high in calories and harmful to cats. Stick to cat-specific food and treats.


In conclusion, knowing how to tell if your cat is hungry is an important skill for any cat owner. By paying attention to their behavior, monitoring their meals and feeding times, and ensuring they are receiving a balanced diet, you can ensure that your feline friend stays healthy and satisfied. Remember that every cat is unique and may have differing appetites or ways of expressing hunger, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for your furry companion. Giving your cat the proper amount of food not only keeps them physically nourished but also strengthens the bond between you both. So next time you see your cat acting in a certain way or exhibiting specific signs, take a moment to assess if they may be telling you they’re hungry. And by following the tips and techniques outlined in this blog post, you’ll become an expert at understanding your cat’s hunger cues.