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Why does my cat make weird noises when eating?

Many cats are outspoken while eating meals, vocalizing plenty of noises as they chew on their daily chow. As a cat owner, you might hear noises that sound strange or even off-putting. So, what does it mean when your cat makes weird noises while eating?

Cats make these noises to guard their food, express contentment, or express pain. Sometimes, cats will grow out of these noises, but other times they need help from you because the noises indicate a larger medical issue.

Read on to discover why your cat makes noises while eating, whether you should be worried about the unusual cat behavior and how you can help your cat be less noisy while eating.

Three Reasons Your Cat Makes Noises When Eating

While eating, your cat may make any of the following sounds:

  • Growling
  • Purring
  • Meowing
  • Crunching Noises
  • Stomach Noises

There are three primary reasons why your cat makes these sounds:

Guarding Food

Many cats growl while eating simply because they’re guarding their food. Some cat owners describe the growling noise as a “nom nom” sound, and this is because the action of devouring food alters the characteristic sound of a growl. 

Cats are known to make this sound even while they’re eating alone. It’s instinctual for them to vocalize in this way because felines normally hunt for food and eat it on their own.

This means they need to defend their meal from other predators and scavengers, so growling alerts others that their food is off-limits. 

cat guarding her food from another cat
cat guarding her food from another cat

Sometimes, cats have experience with needing to defend their food from other pets in the house, which also prompts them to growl to guard their food.

As a cat owner, your cat may likewise growl when you are close by because he’s instinctively aware that you can take away his food.

Expressing Contentment

While chomping on a delicious meal, cats purr to express their contentment and overall satisfaction. 

As a cat owner, it’s darling to witness your kitty conveying his delight upon eating a tasty and pleasurable grub. This means that you’ve successfully delivered the right feast to your kitty, and your kitty is purring because he’s enjoying his food and feeling pleased.

Expressing Discomfort

There are times when your cat meows while eating. Although your cat meows for different reasons, they’re usually linked to three kinds of discomfort that your cat is experiencing: 

  1. Pain: your cat might feel dental pain while eating and meows to let you know about it. 
  2. Fear: your cat might feel stressed (perhaps about something in his environment) and meows out of fear. 
  3. General dislike of his food or food dish: your cat might not like the new food you’ve prepared, or the food dish makes it challenging for him to eat, so he meows to express his complaint.
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There are other times when your cat doesn’t vocalize while eating; instead, you hear crunching noises. When these noises reach your ear, you can quickly identify them as signs that your cat is experiencing pain. 

Crunching noises might indicate tooth decay, inflammatory gum disease, or uncommon tooth alignment. These noises also might be the result of your cat grinding his teeth, which could be connected to bodily pain and even cancer. 

cat expressing discomfort by making noise
cat expressing discomfort by making noise

Your cat’s stomach can also emit weird noises while he’s eating. This might be because your cat has an unfilled stomach or is simply digesting his food.

There also might be something amiss with his digestive system, in which case, he’ll demonstrate other symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea. 

Should I Be Worried about Noises When My Cat is Eating?

When You Should Not Be Worried

If your cat is growling while eating, there is nothing for you to worry about. Your cat growls because he is guarding his food; it’s an instinctual vocalization that’s intimately linked to survival.

Moreover, if your cat is purring while eating, there is also nothing for you to worry about. Purring is an expression of your cat’s happy engagement with his food. 

Stomach noises from your cat might be benign, such as if your cat has an unfilled stomach or is digesting his food; so, closely observe your cat to determine if the stomach noises are benign in nature or a possible indicator of something else.

When You Should Be Worried

If your cat is meowing while eating, he’s doing so to get your attention about something.

This attention-seeking behavior is usually rooted in discomfort and is a cause for worry. Is your cat experiencing pain or fear? Are his meows combined with crunching noises or stomach noises? 

You’ll need to investigate this in order to discover why he’s meowing. Remember that crunching noises and most stomach noises are red flags that your cat could have a dental or gastrointestinal problem that needs to be treated by a veterinarian.

Furthermore, when your cat’s meowing has drawn itself out into yowling while he’s eating, your cat is ill and needs to be carefully examined – initially by you and then by a veterinarian. 

Yowling while eating might express either of the following conditions in your cat:

  • Arthritis: if your kitty is older, it might be painful for him to bend over to eat his food because of arthritic joint pain.
  • Hyperthyroidism: your cat might have an overactive thyroid, which is causing him to lose considerable weight even as he’s eating and drinking more.

Other odd noises are indicators that your cat might be sick in some way or need immediate attention, such as gagging. 

Gagging is when your cat is choking or heaving, and it happens when your cat has eaten too rapidly. Cats often do this when they’re feeling stressed or anxious around their food and therefore eat it as quickly as they can. 

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Gagging also happens if your cat has consumed something toxic along with his food. In this case, an emergency visit to the veterinarian is necessary. 

Sometimes, gagging happens because your cat is experiencing nausea. Nausea will not only cause your cat to gag but also to vomit. This nausea is not necessarily related to your cat’s food; instead, it is usually a symptom of illness in your cat.

Will My Cat Grow Out of Making Noises during Meals?

kittens making noise when eating

Kitten Behavior

It’s normal for kittens to make noises while they’re eating, especially growling. This is often linked to an awareness that they’ll need to compete for their food, mainly because they’re immature and so small. 

Kittens can eat quickly because they’re hungry and a bit nervous that their food might be taken away. As such, kittens will assert themselves vocally with a shallow growl.

Kittens can grow out of making this noise as they mature and develop confidence in themselves and their surroundings. 

Adult Cat Behavior

While many kittens grow out of growling while eating when they’re mature adult cats, some kittens do not. This truly depends on the individual cat and the environment that the cat consistently finds himself in when eating his meals. 

Other noises – such as meowing, crunching noises, and stomach noises – are not necessarily something for your adult cat to grow out of; on the contrary, they are typically signs of a larger cause for concern that needs to be addressed. 

Keep in mind that when you can determine the cause(s) of the noises that your cat makes while eating, you can assist your cat in improving his health, which will dissipate and possibly eliminate these noises while he’s eating.

How Can I Help My Cat to Be Less Noisy When Eating?

Determine the Cause

Depending on the kinds of noises your cat is making, it is possible to help your cat become less noisy while eating.

It’s important to first notice the noises he’s making – growling, purring, meowing, stomach noises, crunching noises, yowling, gagging – and then investigate the possible causes of these noises.

Seek a professional assessment as well by consulting with your veterinarian.

Make Changes

After you determine the cause(s) of your car’s noises while eating, it’s time to make changes. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations to ensure optimal health for your kitty. 

For example, if you discover that your cat’s stomach is making noises because his stomach is unfilled, then implement your veterinarian’s regimen on how much and how often to feed your cat.

Pay Attention to Your Cat

As a dedicated cat owner, you’ll want to continue paying attention to your cat by noticing the noises he makes while eating.

Any changes in behaviors and vocalizations are a cause for concern. Remember that if and when you’re unable to diagnose a concern you have about the noises your cat makes while eating, you can reach out to your veterinarian for professional assistance.