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Cats Eating Disorders

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hglick has been rescuing and placing stray cats for over 20 years and has personally fostered more than 10 rescues .


Cats eating disorders are usually the result of the absence of outlets for excess energy. These outlets include hunting, bringing home prey, eating grass, and engaging in play fighting. When they are not available a cat may seek relief in activities that are not high on his owner's approval list.

Compulsory self-grooming is an energy displacement activity that frequently affects cats that are hospitalized, boarded at a cattery, or deprived of their freedom and subjected to long periods of boredom. The tell-tale signs are excessive licking, especially at the groin. Hair is lost producing bald spots and skin irritation is mild.

Another energy release phenomenon that doesn't fall under the "cats eating disorders" category is the urge to eat grass. When not available they turn to houseplants, some of which may be poisonous. You, as the owner, should be very careful in providing a safe environment for your curious companion to play. Eating grass might produce a gastric upset, but is not a dangerous activity. You can attempt to satisfy his needs by growing grass in a flower pot to substitute for the plants. As a last resort give up the plants.

Many cats bring home prey to fulfill a primitive instinctual urge, or to exhibit their prowess. They do not always relate killing with the need to eat and are apt to deposit a variety of dead or near-dead things at your backdoor. If you attach a bell to your cat's collar it might provide a warning to the innocent creature he is about to pounce upon, but it doesn't always work. Some cats are agile and develop their hunting skills in an extremely stealthy manner without ringing the bell.

Cats food preferences are usually developed in the first six months, but there are several eating disorder behavior patterns that can be very worrisome.

Anorexia Nervosa is a condition (similar to the human eating disorder) in which the cat refuses to eat., loses weight, and begins to starve himself. Deep-seated insecurity or nervous stress is usually at the root of this problem. Always remember that loss of appetite is a primary sign of many feline illnesses, and a family veterinarian should be consulted. Initially, you can attempt to entice your cat with treats. If the problem persists, tranquilizers will reduce tension and are frequently indicated in the treatment of this disorder.

Obesity can be a major problem. It is common for owners to contribute to this problem by offering cats gourmet foods and tasty treats after meals. Some cases are due to lack of exercise. Others to boredom or feeding cats together, which encourages competition. Avoid a sudden drastic reduction in calories. This can produce hunger stress and lead to aggressive behavior. Obesity can be prevented by good feeding practices and by adequate exercise.

Cats eating disorders can also be exhibited in abnormal sucking behavior. Many animal behaviorists suggest that a kitten's habit of sucking on fabrics, people's clothes, and even himself, can be traced to an unsatisfied nursing drive produced by insufficient nursing while in the nest. This habit can often be stopped early by catching the kitten in the act and rapping him on the nose with your finger or applying some foul-tasting material to the fabric, like hot sauce or tobacco juice. Allow the kitten to smell it, then put it in his mouth. You can also aim a spray can at the cat so he can smell it and retreat at the sound of the hiss. Always remember to aim away from the eyes.

References: The Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook by Delbert G. Carlson, D.V.M and James M. Giffin, M.D. - First Edition

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hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on January 31, 2012:

Sally, Yep, I've received mice and birds

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Sally Branche from Only In Texas! on January 30, 2012:

If a good hunting cat really likes you, he'll put a dead mouse in your shoe! Believe me! I know! ;D

Karen N from United States on October 24, 2011:

Very interesting, you know it does seem like cats have some of the same problems as we do.

Pollyannalana from US on August 03, 2011:

My cat is almost 17 and it is really hot out and I can get her in for maybe a half hour at a time but not often. This is the only cat I ever owned (she was my moms 1st) that I could not bathe, she would take my hand off and she is white, but there is a large lid I keep outside full of fresh water and I go out and dip her brush in it to wet her and cool her down, she runs at first but then comes back for more lol.

hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on May 27, 2011:

Sorry to hear that quicksand. Maybe you should set a humane trap, with a smelly fish like Jack mackerel in it in the area that he left you. Check the trap once or twice a day.

quicksand on May 27, 2011:

I would if he was still around. You see he "left us" in October last year. On the way to the vet he sprang out of a partly open window and bolted off into the wilderness. Although it's only around 5 kilometers away from where I live, he has not yet found his way back home. Waiting ...

Tammy Lochmann on May 25, 2011:

Likes the videos!

hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on May 25, 2011:

quicksand, You should trick your cat into eating nutritionally complete cat foods. Vegetarian diets are not good for cats.


quicksand on May 25, 2011:

I once tricked my cat into eating a vegetarian meal consisting of carrots and noodles!

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