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Does it seem as if your Sphynx’s appetite is a bottomless pit? Sphynx cats eat approximately 20 – 40% more than other cat breeds that are similar in size and weight. This article explains why this is the case and how to know how much you should feed your Sphynx cat.
Sphynx cats have a higher metabolism than cats with fur, as they need to generate more body heat to keep warm. Metabolism involves the chemical reactions in the body that break down food to provide energy and heat. They thus need to eat more to maintain a higher metabolic rate to prevent feeling cold.
Although it is normal for SPhynx cats to eat more, a sudden change in appetite and weight could, however, also be an indication of certain health conditions. In this article, we will dive in to the specifics of shy SPhynx cats are so hungry all the time, how to know wether you are feeding enough, as well as certain health conditions that may cause a increased appetite.
Why Do Sphynx Cats Have High Metabolisms?
Sphynx cats use an increased metabolic rate to generate heat to keep them warm – this is especially important due to their lack of fur.
Cats use their fur for several things, including temperature control. However, sometimes having this extra layer of insulation is not sufficient to keep a cat warm, or the environmental conditions are too cold, rendering them unable to control their heat exchange with the environment adequately. To overcome this, Sphynx cats have several other methods on ‘paw’ as well.
These other methods of thermoregulation are altering behavior (crouching down, going to sit in the sun, cuddling up to another cat, or climbing onto your lap) and increasing their metabolic rate.
A third and fourth method to increase body heat is frequent, sequential muscle contraction and relaxation, seen as shivering and getting up and moving around more (sometimes seen as zoomies or periods of hyperactivity). If your Sphynx is mainly using this method, it makes sense that they need to eat more, as they are exercising and thus have an increased activity level.
One of the main ways Sphynx cats increase their metabolic rate is by increasing their thyroid hormone production. This increases the rate of metabolic reactions in all body cells. This, in turn, increases the amount of heat generated in the body.
All mammals are endotherms, which means they use metabolism to maintain their core temperature, as heat is released as a by-product of cellular reactions in the body. Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are broken down by various reactions to produce energy that cells can use to function – our body needs this energy to survive! Thus, if the other methods are unsuccessful, mammals increase their metabolic rate to generate more heat and thus raise their body temperature.
Sphynx cats, who are prone to getting cold, thus function at a higher metabolic rate than our cats with fur. As a result, they need more heat to be produced internally, and they require more cellular reactions to take place (helped on by a slightly higher level of thyroid hormone), which means that they need more food and more calorie-dense food than other cats, and they enjoy more frequent meals.
Special Nutritional Requirements of Sphynx Cats
Cats are obligate carnivores and thus need a diet consisting of meat and meat products; however, it is essential to ensure that they are getting the correct balance of vitamins, minerals, and fats too. This is especially important for Sphynx cats due to their high metabolism, increased food consumption, and exposed skin.
Sphynx cats require a high content (25-35%) of good-quality protein in their diet. Taurine is an essential amino acid that must be included in this protein component. In addition, it is important to feed a high-calorie diet with high-fat content to maintain good energy levels and keep up with the Sphynx’s high metabolism. This being said – home cooked or home formulated diets should be taken on with extreme caution. It is far better to purchase a diet appropriately formulated by animal nutritionists.
Because cats are obligate carnivores, they seem to be able to utilize fats as an energy source rather than carbohydrates. This, however, does not mean that cats cannot utilize carbohydrates for fuel just as efficiently. If you want to read more about how cats metabolize protein, fats, and carbohydrates, this article by SkeptVet, a veterinarian that writes articles on pet health based on the latest research in the field, gives an excellent overview of the topic.
The skin is extremely important as a protective layer against the environment, especially in our Sphynx cats, whose skin is very exposed. Therefore, they need adequate amounts of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in the correct omega 6:3 ratio of around 10-5:1 to keep the skin healthy, as well as to maintain the immune system and regulate the inflammatory response.
How Much Should I Feed My Sphynx?
The short answer is ‘probably more than you think’! If your Sphynx constantly complains that they’re hungry, chances are they are, and you can slightly increase the quantity of food you’re feeding them.
Ensure you are also feeding a calorie-dense food because a better-quality food with a high-calorie content will keep your Sphynx satisfied for longer than feeding a larger quantity of cheaper food.
Sphynxes also often have sensitive guts. To help them cope with the increased quantity of food, you should feed them multiple small meals throughout the day rather than one or two big ones.
The starting amount you feed should be according to the feeding guide on the back of the food package according to weight. However, you will likely feed more than that, especially if the food is not specifically formulated for Sphynxes. The exact amount also varies according to:
- age (kittens and old cats usually have their own food to meet their specific nutrient requirements),
- level of activity (more active cats will eat more than sedentary cats),
- and health status.
Pet Vet Tips: Wondering wether wet or dry food is better for your Sphynx? Read about the pros and cons of wet and dry food for Sphynx cats in this article.
Common Health Conditions That Can Cause An Increase In Appetite
An increased appetite is a symptom of several health conditions. It is important to be aware of these conditions and to differentiate them from your Sphynx displaying a normal appetite.
In the case of an abnormal increase in appetite, you should avoid simply increasing the amount of food you are feeding your Sphynx; instead, aim to discover the root of the problem. Ensure that you take note of other symptoms that your cat may show and visit your vet if you notice anything unusual.
Health Conditions Associated With An Increased Appetite Include:
Hyperthyroidism is also known as thyrotoxicosis and is caused by an overproduction of thyroid hormones by an enlarged and overactive thyroid gland. The most common cause of an enlargement of the thyroid gland is a benign tumor of the thyroid gland that produces thyroid hormone.
Thyroid hormones are responsible for metabolism: an increase in hormone levels will cause multiple effects throughout the body, including an increased appetite with weight loss.
Other symptoms include increased urination and thirst, an unkempt appearance, and hyperactivity in older cats. The vet will likely be able to feel an enlarged thyroid on clinical examination and the diagnosis of hyperthyroidism is usually made on the results of a blood test.
2. Cushing’s disease
Cushing’s disease, or hyperadrenocorticism, is caused by an overproduction of cortisol from the adrenal gland caused by tumors of the adrenal gland or the pituitary gland. A pituitary tumor will produce an excess of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which overstimulates the adrenal gland to produce more cortisol.
This condition can also be caused by medication, for example, if your Sphynx has been treated with high levels of a corticosteroid drug for an extended period of time. Cortisone is a synthetic analog of cortisol and has the same effects; thus, a high level of the drug can also cause Cushing’s disease.
Symptoms include along with an increased appetite: increased thirst and urination (polydipsia and polyuria), weight loss OR weight gain, symmetrical hair loss, an enlarged abdomen, gastrointestinal upset, and an increase in fragility of the skin. Your vet could also palpate an enlarged liver on physical examination, and this condition is often accompanied by Diabetes Mellitus (see below).
Again, this condition is usually diagnosed with a special blood test that often requires more than one sample of blood to be collected within a certain amount of time. This usually means that your cat may need to stay at the vet’s for a couple of hours.
3. Diabetes Mellitus
Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a condition in which the body either cannot produce enough or any insulin (Type 1) or the insulin produced is ineffective (Type 2 or insulin-resistant DM). This means that cells in the body cannot take up glucose and thus cannot use this energy even though it is available.
Type 1 can occur in any cat, including your Sphynx, as it involves the autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic cells that produce insulin. Type 2 is more often seen in obese cats but can occur in cats of a healthy weight.
The most common symptoms are increased thirst, increased urination, and an increased appetite. Cats suffering from diabetes often lose weight despite being hungry and eating more than normal, as the cells are ’starving’ despite the presence of ‘food’. Diabetes is very important to diagnose and treat, as it can be fatal if allowed to become severely uncontrolled.
If you suspect that your Sphynx is hungrier than it should be, or you’ve noticed a marked increased appetite or any of the other symptoms mentioned above, it is a very good idea to visit your local veterinarian and voice your concerns. These conditions are treatable, and a consultation will allow you to either begin a treatment plan or put your mind at ease.
How Do I Know Whether I Am Feeding My Sphynx Enough?
Although listening to your Sphynx complain about its hunger is a valuable indication of dietary satisfaction, some cats are greedier than others, making this a subjective assessment. A more objective test is the weight and body condition score (see the chart by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association below).
Body condition score is assessed visually – by looking at the shape of your Sphynx’s body from the side and above; a profound waist should be seen from both angles – and on palpation – you should be able to comfortably feel your Sphynx’s ribs. A slight pot belly is common and normal in Sphynx cats, especially as their figure is more eSphynx’shan in other cats with fur; however, ensure that you are still able to feel the ribs and ask your vet if you are unsure.
Is my Sphynx normal?
It is normal for Sphynx cats to eat more than other cats due to their increased metabolic rate. However, in order to avoid over- or under-feeding them, you can assess their body condition score every week or two to ensure they are not becoming too skinny or overweight. If you notice a dramatic change in behavior or the emergence of the symptoms discussed under health conditions, please consult your local vet as soon as possible.
Recommended Diets For Sphynx Cats
|Diet Type||Example Diet||Benefits||Comments|
|Sensitive Skin And Stomach||Hill’s Prescription Diet d/d Skin/food sensitivity|
Purina Pro Plan LiveClear Sensitive Skin & Stomach
Royal Canin Ultamino
|– Typically low in potential allergy-causing proteins.|
– Easy to digest.
– Higher omega 3 content to support healthy skin.
|– Hill’s d/d contains limited ingredients and a contains a single protein source (duck) shown to limit allergy. |
– Purina Pro LiveClear contains egg protein that has been shown to reduce the human cat-allergy causing protein in cat saliva and skin. The diet is also easily digestable and supports healthy skin.
– Royal Canin Ultamino contains low molecular weight protein shown to reduce food sensitivity symptoms and supports a healthy skin barrier.
|Dental Care||Hill’s Science Diet Adult Oral Care|
Royal Canin Adult Dental
Purina Pro Plan Dental Health
|– Kibble texture helps to ‘brush’ tartar from the teeth while your cat chews.|
– Reduces the build up of tartar and calculus on the teeth.
|– Sphynx cats are prone to oral health issues and feeding a dental diet can greatly reduce the likelihood for the development of dental conditions – especially if it is the only food that is fed.|
|Satiety Support||Royal Canin Adult Satiety Support||– Higher in fibre to support satiety.||– Ideal diet for sphynx cats that need to loose weight as it supports satiety rather than restricting calories.|
|High Omega 3 Diet||Orijen Six Fish||– High in omega 3 to support a healthy skin barrier.||– High quality and whole food ingredients.|
- Allen, A.J. (2018). Introduction to Metabolic Disorders of Cats. [online] MSD Veterinary Manual.
- Clark, M.H., Ferguson, D.C., Bunick, D. and Hoenig, M. (2013b). Molecular and histological evidence of brown adipose tissue in adult cats. The Veterinary Journal, [online] 195(1), pp.66–72. doi:10.1016/j.tvjl.2012.05.029.
- Coham, M. (2018). Cat Metabolism: How it Affects Your Feline Friend. [online] Hill’s Pet Nutrition.
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. (2017). Hyperthyroidism in Cats.
- Eckstein, S. (2009). Feline Diabetes: Symptoms, Treatments, Prevention, and Diet Tips.
- Laflamme D. Cats and carbohydrates: Why is this still controversialHill’s2018 ACVIM Forum. Seattle, WA; 2018.
- Khanacademy.org. (2022). Animal Temperature Regulation Khan Academy.
- KIMITSUKI, K., BOONSRIROJ, H., KOJIMA, D. and PARK, C.-H. (2014). A Case Report of Feline Pituitary Carcinoma with Hypercortisolism. Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, [online] 76(1), pp.133–138. doi:10.1292/jvms.13-0373.
- Nova Cat Clinic (2017). Why Is My Cat Eating So Much And Losing Weight? | Nova Cat Clinic. [online] NOVA Cat Clinic – Arlington, VA, Cat-Only Veterinarian Hospital.
- Verbrugghe A, Hesta M. Cats and Carbohydrates: The Carnivore Fantasy? Vet Sci. 2017;4(4):55. doi:10.3390/vetsci4040055