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Cat eating too fast? How to help if your cat overeats too quickly

how to stop cat eating too fast
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sometimes, when felines get worked up before a meal or treat, it can often result in a cat eating too fast. If they wolf down their food quicker than usual, many will often regurgitate it just moments later, which is an unpleasant cycle for all involved. 

Should this behavior continue, it can put the feline at risk of becoming obese which could lead to further health complications, such as diabetes and arthritis.

So, how do we break this cycle? From choosing the best cat food bowl for the job to clever and simple tips to change your feline's relationship with food, read on to find out why your cat eats too fast and what you can do to change it. 

Why do cats eat fast?

There are many reasons as to why a cat will gorge its food. They may be overexcited, feel bored or lonely, might be concerned that another animal (whether that be a fellow feline or a canine) will steal it, or perhaps just really love their food and can’t get enough of it.

However, eating food so quickly will often lead to it being regurgitated shortly after.

Providing that your favorite furry feline isn’t allergic to a particular brand or ingredient within their food or treat, regurgitation in cats is most common when eating dry food. This is because, when they eat it too quickly, they can eat too much, so when the food absorbs water and swells in their stomachs, it sends signals to the brain that they have overeaten and need to get rid of any excess food as quickly as possible.

It’s important to keep in mind that this logical reflex is very different to a cat vomiting. Should your cat be vomiting on a regular basis, especially if you notice other signs such as a change in their weight, you should seek professional medical advice from your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health conditions, such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes mellitus, which naturally cause your cat to develop a more ravenous appetite. Our vet's guide to what to do if your cat is throwing up is a useful place to start should you have concerns in this area.

When it comes to eating too quickly, there are a number of ways in which you can help to slow your cat down, help them to enjoy what they’re eating and, ultimately, reduce how many times they regurgitate their food. 

How to get your cat to eat slower 

how to stop a cat eating too fast

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Spread your cat's food out

One of the easiest, and often most simple, solutions is to avoid using traditional cat food bowls in which all the food is piled up in a small space. 

Instead, you could try spreading your feline’s meal out across a 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Although it may seem peculiar at first, this will slow your cat’s eating down because they have to make gradual movements every time they want another mouthful, meaning that they can’t simply gorge it all in one go.

2. Put obstacles in the way 

Making it tricky for your cat to guzzle its food by adding obstacles, can be both a stimulating and beneficial experience for them. 

Of course, the chosen obstacles must be too big for your kitty to eat yet easy to nudge out of the way so that they can reach their food, such as golf and ping pong balls.

You could also try specially designed puzzle feeders (also known as slow feeders), which challenge your feline to navigate various maze style fixtures and fitted obstacles to reach their food.

Another way to keep your cat active mentally and their eating at a reasonable pace, is through specialised cat treat toys, which must be nudged and pushed around to reveal the food that is hidden inside.    

3.  Invest in an automatic feeder 

Automatic pet feeders work on strategy - they open to a set schedule and work on the basis of feeding the feline little and often as a way of avoiding regurgitation. 

However, in these types of instances where a cat is eating too fast, it’s important to avoid the automatic feeders that do not feature portion control options as this will simply encourage your feline to constantly eat and regurgitate more often.

4. Try a slow feeder cat bowl

Did you know you can get specially devised cat bowls for helping slow down their eating? A slow feeder cat bowl is designed to spread your feline's food using a variety of different shapes that makes it harder for your cat to get at their grub. 

Not only can they present a challenge to your feline and slow them down, they can also reduce the amount of calories that a cat is consuming. 

5. Dish out smaller meals

The simplest way to stop your cat from gorging on their food is to serve up smaller meals throughout the day rather than bigger meals more regularly. This should mean that, as their meals are paced out and in smaller quantities, they're less likely to wolf down large amounts in one go. 

6. Squash cat food

If your cat prefers wet cat food, use a spoon to squash it down into the bowl. This causes your feline friend to have to lick their food, ultimately leading to a slow down in ingesting. Your goal is prevent them from eating large chunks of food in one go. 

7. Hide cat food

Cats are naturally excellent hunters, so why not use that instinct to your advantage? Rather than placing all the food into the bowl, look to hide small amounts of the food around the house. Indoor cat hunting feeders are particularly useful for this and typically come as mouse-shaped dishes you can hide behind plant pots or kitchen appliances.  

8. Add water

Thin down your cat's food by adding water. This can work for dry or wet food. By adding H2o, you'll slow down your cat's intake of food plus it'll help them to feel fuller for longer.

An added benefit is that helps increase their water intake, which is ideal if your cat requires extra hydration. 

9. Install a microchip cat flap

The best microchip cat flap will protect both your feline and your home from unwanted guests. If you suspect your cat is eating too fast because of invading neighboring felines, a microchip cat flap will keep them out helping to relax your cat come mealtime. 

Chloe Petrylak

Chloe is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, who has more than eight years experience in media. With a passion for creating content all about wildlife and the environment, she can be found at www.chloemaywrites.com or @ChloeMayWrites on social media.