Is There Such a Thing as a Bulimic Cat?

Jane Fonda opened up about her battle with bulimia because, from an early age, her father taught her that she had to look a certain way; otherwise, no one would love her. Diane Keaton shared a similar story; she would consume 2000 calories a day then vomit, which ruined her teeth. While this is common in the human world, have you ever wondered if there is such a thing as a bulimic cat? You surely must have noticed how your cat will eat food in a hurry only to bring it up on your floor again. So, does bulimia also affect felines? Let’s see what experts have to say.

It Started with Concerned For Parents

Karen posted in Our Happy Cat asking about her female 6-pound ragdoll’s habit. She had adopted the feline from the SPCA and noticed that whenever she fed her along with her other male cat, the ragdoll would gobble up her food then run to eat the other cat’s food. Within minutes, she would throw up, and it worried Karen that the ragdoll would damage her teeth. Besides, it was not healthy because the feline would be hungry again and repeat the process. Another fur parent, Dana from Montgomery, Illinois, noticed that Snickers, her kitty, would throw up all the time, mostly when he was mad. Dana thought it was Snickers’ way of controlling his humans because when upset, Snickers would go beside a person then puke. The same story is shared by Katchus, who posted in Houzz that one of her cats did not chew her food. Instead, she would eat so fast then vomit 10 minutes later. The only remedy was regulating the cat’s feeding lest it was guaranteed that she would puke immediately after eating.

Is it Bulimia?

Although the cats’ parents are convinced that the cats are bulimic, experts do not believe that is why they behave as they do. Caster clarified that, although the habit is similar to bulimia, the eating disorder has never been documented in cats. Instead, the kitties could suffer from other medical conditions that make them prone to vomiting. The article lists conditions such as food intolerance, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney and liver problems, and glandular conditions as the main reasons for regular vomiting. Additionally, Dana’s concern that Snickers’ puking was his technique of controlling people was farfetched. As explained by the vet’s response to Dana’s predicament, the main reason is that Snickers could be suffering from stress, thus vomits whenever he gets upset. As for Karen, her ragdoll being a rescue could explain her behavior. Foster children who are thrown from home to home never know whether the meal provided could be their last; hence they stuff their pockets with extra, just in case. Similarly, Karen’s ragdoll was unsure if she had found her forever home; thus, she ate fast, hoping to store up enough to last her a few days.

When Should You Be Concerned about a Cat’s Vomiting?

Hill’s explains that, after grooming, it is common to have your cat vomiting due to hairballs. Still, that is not reason enough to call your vet. However, once the hairballs grow bigger and cause intestinal blockage, then you should be concerned. Usually, in the case of hairballs, the vomit is yellow and foamy; should the color change to thick yellow bile, it could indicate kidney problems. Moreover, if the thick yellow vomit is accompanied by abnormal behavior, lethargy, or change in appetite, you should seek a vet’s help. If the vomiting is usually after eating fast, it is a “bulimic” tendency, which continues until a cat relaxes in the new environment. In the vet’s world, such fast-eating, followed by vomiting, is referred to as regurgitation and is caused by poorly digested food.

As a concerned pet parent, you can speed their acclimatization process by only feeding the cat with small amounts of food throughout the day. Also, dry foods are much better to encourage chewing and reduce the speed of eating. Also, dry food is excellent for teeth development. As the vomiting reduces, you can increase the amount of food and reduce the frequency of feeding until the vomiting stops, after which you can adopt a normal feeding routine. Moreover, you can make feeding time a little bit more fun and healthy. For instance, a food puzzle toy encourages a cat to hunt for food, which helps burn a few calories and slows down eating. You should also not be persuaded by the sweet purring and rubbing of your cat’s body against you to give it more food. Instead, let the cat feed in another room and teach it to feed from its bowl only.

Are There other Eating Disorders in Cats?

Now that we have established that there is no such thing as a bulimic cat, you should know that there are other eating disorders besides overeating. Under-eating could also be an issue with your cat, and of course, the symptoms include weakness, weight loss, and depression, among others. The loss of appetite can be due to underlying medical conditions such as cancer and diabetes, but you cannot be sure until you see a vet. You should also note that there is a difference between extreme appetite loss and the inability to feed due to pain or disease.

Pica is also common and refers to a cat eating inedible objects. It is common in cats that were not properly weaned, and it starts with sucking on objects like blankets. Others develop pica in response to a deficiency in their blood; for example, adult cats can feed on their litter due to anemia. Sometimes, cats are just bored and will feed on anything to keep them occupied. The disorder is dangerous because it can cause poisoning when the felines feed on toxic substances.

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