My Cat Eats Too Fast! 5 Tips to Slow Down Your Cat’s Eating

“It’s your turn…” my husband nudged me awake in the middle of the night. 

“Of course it is… which one was it?” was my response. 

While I’ve experienced vomit from both of our cats, it’s our youngest cat Lucy who causes us the most hassle in this department. She eats everything in sight within mere seconds…

Only to throw it up (undigested, some not even chewed) minutes later.

This is so frustrating, but not uncommon. 

calico cat eating dry food outside on concrete floor cat eats too much

So, why does your cat eat too fast and then throw up minutes later? 

 

Let’s break down a few of the reasons your cat eats too fast:

  • stress 
  • hunger
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • parasites or illnesses
  • competition

How can I get my cat to eat slower? You can get your cat to eat slower by controlling how they are being fed. You can use feeder toys for them to “hunt” their meal or ice trays with small amounts of food in each cup.

How a Cat’s Body Affects the Way They Eat

If you’re reading this, you might be as frustrated as I am. 

I was a bit relieved to be able to really dive into this topic because we have tried everything from limiting her food to only feeding her at specific times of the day and nothing has worked for us so far.

So, not only am I explaining this to you but I’m also looking for answers. 

Before we get into how to slow down your cats eating, you need to understand a few key points about how cats intake and digest food.

Let me break it down in simple terms…

Your cat is quadruped

Basically, a cats esophagus is horizontal.

Not vertical, like ours.

Food can come up against the lower esophageal sphincter, which is what causes your pretty kitty to throw up partially (or fully) undigested food.

outdoor orange cat eating out of food bowl

How does that affect the way they eat?

Well, it’s likely the reason why your cat throws up after eating really quickly.

Slowing down your cats eating process can help stop this from happening. 

Did you know? 

If your cat is feeling a stomach upset or their body is deficient in something, they will likely search out grass and eat it. This is because grass contains folic acid (a vitamins that supports growth and can increase oxygen levels in their blood).

Grass is also a way of causing your cat to vomit, which is why your cat might seek out and eat grass when they are feeling ill. [1]

5 Reasons Your Cat Is Eating Too Fast

If your cat has this problem… there’s a reason.

As mentioned above, there are several reasons your cat is gobbling up her food faster than you can turn around and put the bag back in the cupboard. 

First, we find the most likely reason for your cats increased appetite and feeding times and then we tackle slowing them down (tips on that below!)

Let’s dive deeper into some of these reasons!

Hunger

The first thing you think when your cat is eating really quickly is “Woah, she must have been hungry!” 

This seems logical, right?

Well, it really could be as simple as that.

If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, has an irregular feeding schedule or is having her food stolen by other family pets, this could be the reasoning for her quick eating.

She wants to get that food into her body because she’s hungry! 

A solution to this hunger problem is feeding your cat in a separate room from all other animals, and monitoring for a few days just how much you see her eat.

It could be that you’re filling her bowl and walking away, only to have your dog come and eat her food before she can finish it.

You’re left thinking your cat has had plenty to eat, but your cat is left hungry. 

Competition With Other Cats

Now, since there are many reasons a cat could be eating too fast, here’s another – let’s talk about competition.

Why does a cat do much of anything? One reason could be pretty simple: competition.

Eating too fast is definitely more common in multi-cat households, it becomes a bit of a competition!

Even if your cats have completely separate food bowls, they’re competitive by nature and this will quickly turn into a game of “who can eat faster“.

If you have a particularly tricky feline like my Lucy, it can even develop into a game of “whoever finishes first gets the other’s bowl!” 

This is especially the case when we treat them to some of the nicer wet food!

A Nutritional Deficiency In Your Cat

Another reason your cat is eating too fast could be a nutritional deficiency.

A cat’s body (much like our bodies) know when they are missing something vital – and if your cat’s diet isn’t providing the right amount of the right vitamins and nutrients – your cat will likely become a quick eater because their bodies are trying to take in what they think they are missing. 

Your vet will likely be able to give you more insight into what your cat is missing, but try switching to a higher quality brand of cat food and portion it (space our her meals and only allow certain amounts at a time), and you should see a change! 

Does Your Cat Have Parasites or Illnesses?

Let’s talk about parasites.

cat eating out of food bowl on grass cat veteran

Those tricksters can definitely be the cause of your cat’s seemingly eternal and fast-paced hunger. 

An increased appetite can actually be a sign of something bigger going on in your cat’s body. 

For instance, one of the more common symptoms for worms in pets is increased appetite, mainly because the worms can actually be stealing the nutrients from your cat’s food.

This means she could be eating more, but not getting nearly enough of what she needs, causing her to eat more (and sometimes, faster) because her body is telling her she isn’t getting enough. 

Stress In Cats

If your cat is sensing a stressful situation or feeling in a heightened state of stress, she may be eating her food as fast as she can in order to make sure she can eat and then hide or retreat as fast as she can.

Cats are naturally in a more vulnerable state when they are eating, and so if your cat doesn’t feel comfortable in the environment (if another cat or a lurking dog is nearby) she will be more likely to wolf down her food fast so she can leave. 

Something you can do to avoid a cat binge-eating because of stress is to put her food in a safe, low traffic area of your home.

Avoid putting your cat’s food in the following areas to eliminate possible stressors while she eats:

  • do not put her food near high traffic areas like entrance ways or staircases 
  • stay away from areas that can be loud, such as laundry rooms washers, dryers or in your kitchen close to the dishwasher
  • don’t set her food near other pet’s food (not close to your dog’s dishes, for example) 

5 Simple Ways to Slow Down Your Cat’s Eating 

Slowing down our cat’s eating would solve a lot of our vomit-related issues (and be a lot healthier for her), so naturally, I was super interested in digging into some of these tips. I have tried a few of them and can tell you, they really work!

So, now that we know a little more about why our cats do this, let’s talk about things we can do to slow down the eating process. 

? The Rock (or Golf Ball) Method

Placing a clean rock (larger, so your cat doesn’t accidentally eat it) or a tennis ball in your cat’s food bowl proves effective at slowing her down because she has to work around the obstacle, which slows down her eating.  

Watch a video of this method below: These cute cats are actually having fun with their meal, now!

My Opinion: We have tried this one, and it’s worked fairly well!

And our cat’s reaction the first time she found the ball in her bowl was really funny, she was not impressed. 

? Feeding on a Schedule (less food, more often)

If you’re anything like me, scheduling your cat’s food is a bit difficult.

Whether it be a demanding job, a newborn baby or other priorities – it’s hard to make sure your cat has a regular eating schedule. 

When I say schedule, I don’t mean down-to-the-minute schedule, I mean frequency and volume schedule.

If your cat eats twice a day, maybe try to bring that to three times a day.

Providing your hungry kitty with smaller portions more frequently can help your cat by giving her time to digest the food before adding in more. 

My Opinion: Feeding schedules are so very important!

I’ve been a cat owner for over 10 years and it’s only in the last few years I’ve really tried to get my cats on a regular schedule instead of “free feeding” (allowing them to eat whenever they want throughout the day).

There’s a really interesting video on free-feeding and the effects of it on your cat that I really think you should watch!

? Let Your Cat Play with Their Food

Anyone who is a human has heard the words “don’t play with your food” by a scolding parent at some point in their lives.

Well, the opposite goes for cats.

Encouraging your cat to play with her food (through a feeding ball toy or a puzzle toy) allows her to get little bits of it at a time, which greatly decreases the risk of her bringing it back up on your couch. (Makes your cat happy too)

My Opinion: We have a feeding toy, but right now our toddler is very interested in it and our cat is a bit afraid of our toddler, so she doesn’t actually get to use it very often.

I will be interested in trying this again once our son loses interest in her food toys. 

? Ditch the Bowl – Use a Tray or Slow Feed Bowl

While you don’t have to ditch the bowl completely (as there are such things as slow feed bowls), the idea around this is to spread your cat’s food out and have them take more time to ingest it.

Instead of using that cute cat bowl you just got from the pet store, you could also try using a larger tray.

You can watch a slow feeding bowl in action in the video below! 

My Opinion: I am really interested in doing something like this because it makes total sense to me. (spread out the food so it takes her longer to eat it!)

? Soak The Food in Water

Soaking dry cat food in a tiny bit of water allows the cat food to expand in the bowl, rather than expanding in your cat’s stomach.

Sometimes, your cat will eat and eat because he doesn’t realize he’s full until the food expands in his stomach, and by then it’s often too late because he has added more food on top of it.

This is a great trick to avoid that food making a reappearance on your kitchen floor.

My Opinion: We have also tried this one in the past, but our cat Lucy is fairly stubborn and just refuses to eat, wants outside and I am quite sure she then goes to the neighbor’s house and begs for food there.

It’s quite an issue – she’s a sneaky little one. 

cat eating grass cat veteran

How to Deal with Your Cat Vomiting Frequently

One of the unfortunate things about your cat’s fast-paced hunger is the inevitable vomit that is to follow.

Either your cat will vomit because they have eaten too much and their body will expel what it doesn’t need, or they will find grass to eat in order to relieve themselves of that queasy feeling. 

Either way…

It’s not very nice for us!

Because your cat’s esophagus is horizontal, and not vertical, they get heartburn and acid reflux a lot easier than we do and naturally, their body wants to rid itself of that.

Even if it means ruining your very expensive new carpet. 

If your cat is vomiting frequently, you might want to consider their diet (is it the best diet for them?), their lifestyle and their eating habits.

To learn more about why cats vomit (and some tips for preventing it), watch the video below…

Repeated vomiting in your cat can actually cause some serious issues, one being dehydration. If your cat is frequently bringing up her food, a trip to the vet might be in order. 

Now…let’s talk about the cleanup. (How fun, right?)

Cleaning up vomit is no fun for anyone, but below are a few products I’ve found to be really helpful: 

Related Questions

⚙ Why does my cat eat too fast?  Some of the more common reasons a cat eats too fast are stress, a nutritional deficiency, competition, a parasite/illness or hunger. To narrow it down, consider trying to space out your cat’s meal times, providing her with smaller portions of food and feeding her in a place where there aren’t any other pets or humans.

If the issue persists, you could arrange a check-up at your local vet to rule out a parasite (such as worms). 

⚙ Why does my cat throw up her dry cat food? One of the reasons your cat might be throwing up dry cat food is because kibble tends to expand once it’s in a cat’s stomach, so your cat might be eating more than they need without immediately feeling full right away. Then, by the time they do feel full, it’s too late and they have already eaten too much. 

One of the ways you can combat this is mixing a bit of water into their food bowl, so it expands in the bowl. 

⚙ Why is my cat so hungry all the time? Your cat’s seemingly eternal hunger could be explained in a few ways: a parasite (like worms), curiosity (wanting to try everything), boredom, stress, competition (trying to eat faster than your other pets) or a deficiency. 

⚙ How can I settle my cat’s stomach? Pacing her eating is one of the ways you can make sure your cat doesn’t have an upset stomach. Some other reasons cats vomit or have a stomach upset could be curiosity (eating things they shouldn’t) or a parasite in their system.

If you think your cat is suffering from regular stomach upset and aren’t sure why a trip to the vet might tell you more. 

⚙ Why does my cat throw up immediately after eating? 
Cats can vomit for a variety of different reasons:

  • eating too fast
  • stress or fear
  • eating something they shouldn’t have (like plastic or grass)
  • stomach upset

If you have more questions about feeding your cat (wet vs dry food, what food is the best for indoor cats and how much water your cat should be drinking in a day) – we have posted for those, too!

Check out some of our helpful cat food posts below!
What Food is Best for My Indoor Cat? 
Which is Better: Wet Food VS Dry Food
How Much Water Should My Cat Drink in a Day

Sources: 
[1] Why Cats Eat Grass – Purina 
[2] Ways to Slow Down Cats Who Eat Too Fast – Petcha 
[3] Cat Special Concerns (Does Your Cat Have Tummy Troubles?) – IAMS
[4] Cat Eating Habits Explained – HealthyPets Mercola
[5] My Cat Eats too Fast – Kittyclysm

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