Why is our older cat constantly hungry?

Our question this week was:

Our 15-year-old female calico in the last month has been acting like she is starving. She has become noisier with more meowing. She is usually feed a packet of wet food in the morning with dry food always available. Even if I feed her another packet of food at night she appears hungry. She has always been thin and does not appear to have put on any weight. She is an indoor cat but it has been very cold outside and I know I eat more then is that her problem even thought she isn’t going out? She also sits in my lap less and in fact has been sitting on top of heating duct.

Could she be sick or just quirky in her old age?

Catharine Broderick


Hi Catherine– thanks for your email. You wrote that your 15-year-old cat is uncharacteristically “hungry” but not gaining weight.

In a 15-year-old cat – I think about the common disease called hyperthyroidism. It is a metabolic disorder caused by an excess of thyroid hormone. It occurs most commonly in cats over the age of 8 years and is more common as cats get older. The classic sign is a cat that is more active and eating tons of food without gaining weight.

My advice is to take her to your veterinarian and have her evaluated. He will do a physical examination and probably feel her neck for evidence of a thyroid nodule. He will also most likely do blood work and a urinalysis. Blood work will include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemical profile, thyroid level (T4) and potentially a urinalysis (urine test).

An article that might be helpful to you is Hyperthyroidism in Cats. Another article that talks about cats that are eating more –is Polyphagia in Cats – that one might be helpful as well.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra