A cat can become extra adorable when they are hungry. Other than standing on your chest and head-butting you at 5 am, they also do the “feed me” happy dance of mewing, purring and the cat rubbing up against you as you prepare their meal. A well-fed and nourished cat is a very happy cat. However, if you have a cat that often eats too fast, minutes after a meal, you may be hearing the unpleasant sounds of a cat regurgitating and need to go for the paper towels and have to clean up the food that cat was just so excited about just minutes to be regurgitated. If your cat eats too quickly, they can bring that food back up undigested. As a pet owner dealing with this issue, there are ways you can keep kitty from eating so fast that it gets ill.
Regurgitation in Cats
Regurgitation in cats often occurs when a cat eats too fast. Dry cat food, in particular, can lead to this. When the dry cat food absorbs water in the cat’s stomach, the food swells and sends a rush memo to the cat’s brain it has overeaten and needs to eject that food. Regurgitation is just that- the cats brain telling the body to eject the food. The brain cannot always tell if that was the right amount or a proper meal because the cat ate so quickly the brain could not register satiety, or fullness. This is not vomiting which is a violent ejection of a cat’s complete stomach contents and is caused by abdominal muscles. However, a cat that regurgitates often and has other signs of illness or behavioral changes should be taken to the vet for a checkup.
Slow Savoring For Kitty Nutrition
The first step to prevent a cat from regurgitating food is to see what food triggers regurgitation. If there is a brand of cat treats that always leads to them being brought up undigested, switch cat treats. If it occurs with dry kitty kibble, while easier, in general, to clean up, you may need to consider switching your cat to canned food that not only provides necessary moisture and prevents that swelling of dry food response. Canned food also has other long-term nutritional benefits that should be considered. If a change in diet doesn’t help, there are other ways you can help a cat that frequently regurgitates their meals.
Try a Food Serving Method That Spreads Food Out
By using a 9’ x13” baking pan or cookie sheet and not mounding all their food in one pile, you force a cat to move and take a break between bites as they have to eat the spread out cat food crunchies or chunks of canned food across the pan surface. This prevents a cat from gulping down the contents of their bowl as fast as possible. The cat also has made a little effort to get its entire meal, and most cats are more than happy to chase down the last piece of kibble or blob of canned food. By spreading the food out in such a dish, it slows down a cat who eats so fast it brings it’s food back up undigested so it can eat slow enough not to send the “I’ve eaten too much, uh-oh, better get rid of this excess food” to the brain in the first place. Usually, this solution can resolve the problem of a feline gulper that inhales their food instead of savoring it.
Automatic Cat Feeders
Automatic pet feeders can also help deal with cat feeding issues by providing frequent small meals, and some can even be programmed to only open and release food on a set schedule. However, not all automatic feeders have those controls and a cat who can eat all they want all the time from a feeder that is a dry food fountain are not best for cats. Portion control and making sure your cat has no appetite changes are harder to see when using a free-feeding automatic pet feeder. Some cats will also enjoy the all they can eat buffet too much and become rotund obese kitties. The better investment for a finicky cat is a programmable timer. There are even automatic feeders for canned cat food that use ice packs to keep the bowl cool for healthy food and ensures kitty’s meal is always fresh. Mind you; some cats prefer room temperature cat food or even slightly warmed if a cat is a problem eater so cold cat food may be something they turn their noses up at, and nose appeal is the main way a cat’s appetite is stimulated.
Make the Meal Require More Interaction
If your cat is still eating too fast even after trying the baking sheet trick, adding nonedible objects the cat has to eat around and encounters in the bowl or plate to show a cat down more. Some cats will always “snarf” their food down, especially if they feel that other cats in the house are food aggressive and won’t share the food. Adding Ping-Pong, larger kids bouncy balls, or golf balls into a food dish provides an obstacle the cat has to eat around and adding a tennis bowl or two into a baking pan can create more conscious and slower eating. They have to eat around and nose or paw the ball out of the way to get their kibble. The obstacle in the bowl has to be something the cat can move or manipulate and be inedible. Balls and even plastic blocks or pet safe plastic toys are great for taking up space and getting in the way of your cat food eating fuzzy vacuum cleaner who thinks mealtime is for sucking food down as fast as possible. The obstacle option will not work with large volume automatic cat feeders.
Make Mealtime and Snacktime a Game and Challenge
Another way to force a cat who likes to guzzle their food down to take their time eating is to use a “slow cat feeder bowl.” It also provides a cat with necessary mental stimulation. These are maze shaped cat food bowls that make a cat play with their food to eat it. The cat has to work with the feeder to eat and has to play the maze to get treat and food. These are often named interactive feeders or activity feeders. The design of the bowl requires a cat to nibble through curves, angles and use paws to work around the textured bowl. It also lets them use their natural hunting instincts. Cat treat toys that need to be swatted just the right way or pushed to unlock the tasty desired cat treat inside are also fun.
Making a cat expend a little effort and exercise to get their treats is a great way to keep kitty happy, healthy and to slow them down when it comes to the food they love, so they regurgitate less and enjoy their food as they are made to eat slowly enough that they get the needed nutrition from digesting and eating properly.
All of these options help you get your cats food into their stomach and not on the floor.