HomeCat FoodCan Cats Become Comfort Eaters?


Can Cats Become Comfort Eaters? — 8 Comments

  1. Monty thinks he needs to eat every time he comes in from outside. Often I take him out when I know he’s hungry because when it’s time to come in I can call out “Treat!” and he will come running. So I have established a pattern. Monty comfort eats in a way because when I caught him he was feral and starving. He will overeat, but I think it comforts him to be able to eat any time he wants to and as much as he wants to. He still worries the food will run out, I think. He gets many small meals all throughout the day. I can’t give him much at a time. He eats very fast and will throw it back up unless he just has a little bit at a time. So I keep the portions small, but he gets breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, supper and night snack. But I don’t think his total intake is too much because these are all small meals. It’s probably not at all how cats eat in the wild, but it’s working for us, and I think his weight has actually gone down a little. Outside time is good for him in that it provides exercise and I think it decreases stress and reduces the need for comfort eating for him. Also, if he’s busy out there he usually isn’t thinking about food. Well, he’s probably always thinking about food, but he will choose outside time over food time to a certain extent, unless he’s actually very hungry.

    • Ruth I think you have an excellent system. Small and frequent (meaning more frequent than humans) is natural for a cat (small wild cat style diet) and to take him out first is nice because it delays eating a bit and burns off some calories.

      You can see how feeding routines are set up. These are fine as long as they don’t start to create feedings times that would not otherwise exist.

  2. This is probably true, that some cats are comfort eaters. I know for sure, I am a comfort “feeder”. It pleases me no end to feed the cats. And I love to give them variety. The full time outdoor cats are the most fun to feed. They come at odd times during the day as well as routine times.

    The heart beaker is my mostly indoor cat Bigfoot. He’s free to go out but for the most part chooses not to. And, he will eat nothing but dry cat food. It kills me! He eats good quality kibble, but I would so prefer he ate some real food. He refuses it, and has as long as I’ve known him which is now about 4 years. He is skinny too. He will only eat to survive. Not for pleasure or comfort. I assume he’s old (long in the tooth!) and I don’t expect him to change. Every cat is different. That’s why I love them.

    My newest old Tomcat Marvin is a comfort eater and I can see that he could over do it! Read about him here: Meet Marvin. He loves the attention, the variety and the company of humans. Go figure.

    You can read about my other cats by going to Bigfoot, Yellow cat, and get a small peek of Shadow under “outdoor heated kitty pad“.

    By the way Michael, I’ve re-read most of the articles on cat food this past week. Because of Marvin of course. PoC is invaluable.


    • I think the phrase you use, “Comfort Feeder” is very enlightening. What I particularly like is that you feed cats that need food, that need help. I agree that the most fun is feeding outdoor cats that are really hungry. Marvin seems to have gotten hold of dry cat food one way or another and got used to it.

  3. I agree, I think many indoor only cats eat out of boredom. Eating is pleasurable and also something to do.
    Our cats are and all have been over the 38 years we’ve shared our home with cats, fed on demand and we’ve had none with weight problems.
    Their freedom to go out during the day and lots to keep them happy indoors if the weather is bad means they don’t eat just for the sake of eating, they eat when they are hungry.
    We humans could learn a lesson from cats lol I’m never bored, in fact there are not enough hours in some days, but I do find myself eating snacks sometimes when I’m not hungry. I think it comforts me when I’m feeling helpless at all the abuse of animals, that’s my excuse anyway.
    Like Charlie our boyz sometimes go mad for a certain food then another time walk away, their faces saying ‘huh I’d rather starve than eat THAT again’
    So yes they get something different, we are just pushovers lol

    • Well, I totally respect your views and Marc’s. So, this is our little contribution to the debate. You can’t beat first hand experience. And this entire page is based on that.

      Cats can train us very slowly and without us realising it. We should be wary of it.

  4. I agree, and I certainly agree that it can grow out of boredon/sensory deprivation. I have never had an outdoor/indoor cat who over eats, but I have seen many indoor cats who are overweight. There is no question in my mind that with indoor cats one must replace the over eating with playtime. They sleep better, seem more satisfied and they burn energy and dont get overweight. Playtime is the key to a happy indoor life. An indor cat can never be 100% satisfied unless he or she is elderly I think. All young cats are curious and will gaze longingly out the window and try to get out the door at least a few times until they just give up. I totally agree with your theory about comfort eating. Probably they dont even find it that satisfying either.

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