How Long Can a Cat Go Without Eating? 13 Reasons Why Your Cat is Not Eating

how long can a cat go without eating

Cats are known to be resilient and independent creatures, aside from being notoriously picky eaters.

Hence, as cat owners, it’s completely understandable to ask and wonder how long can a cat go without eating or drinking water?

How Long Can a Cat Go Without Eating?

Aside from being picky eaters, cats are also resilient and independent creatures. Without a doubt, these traits help them survive the world on their own. So, it’s just understandable to be curious as to how long can a cat go without eating?

Most of the time, a cat would just stop eating because they don’t like their cat food. Other times, their loss of appetite can be due to an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.

However, either way, they could still look perfectly fine. As such, as cat owners, we can’t help but wonder how long can a cat go without eating or drinking water?

Related Article: How to Fatten Up a Cat?

How Long Can Cats Survive Without Food?

On average, cats can survive without food for up to two weeks as long as they have access to a clean water supply.

However, even if they do survive that long, they are still likely to be seriously ill and in need of immediate veterinary care.

In some cases, even if they are well-hydrated but they don’t have enough protein intakes, they could still deteriorate and die in three to four days. Finally, without food and water, cats are unlikely to survive longer than three days.

Cat’s organs can shut down very fast if they don’t eat. Unlike dogs and humans, a cat’s liver cannot function by just relying on the body’s energy reserves.

These pieces of information are just here to answer the “What ifs” that are running inside our brains. It is important that as pet owners, we should provide our cats with food regularly.

And we need to make sure that we refill their water bowls with fresh water all the time to keep them healthy, happy, and strong.

How Long Can a Cat Go Without Eating

11 Reasons Why Your Cat is Not Eating

It may be hard to understand our cat’s behavior sometimes, but if your cat has suddenly stopped eating recently, you can first suspect a possible illness.

However, an underlying disease may not be the only reason for a cat’s loss of appetite. Hence, it’s important to monitor them closely. And if they still don’t eat after a day, you should call your local veterinarian immediately.

Like what we’ve said earlier, a cat’s organs can shut down very fast if they don’t eat. So, it’s important to act fast. The sooner the reason is identified, the sooner the treatment can be started.

Below are reasons why your cat is not eating:

1. Dental problem

Tooth pain or any infection or injury that could make chewing or eating painful for cats can affect their interest to eat.

Cats with a dental issue would be reluctant to eat, chews only on one side of their mouth, and won’t let you touch their head or their mouth.

Some of the dental problems that could make your kitty stop eating are inflamed gums, a broken tooth, an abscess, oral tumors, or other inflammatory problems.

2. Gastrointestinal issues

Gastrointestinal problems can be anything from an upset stomach to parasitic infection, colitis, gastroenteritis, or cancer.

If your cat has eaten something that doesn’t go well with their body, they may not eat for a while until they are feeling better.

Vomiting and diarrhea are two common signs that your cat has ingested something they shouldn’t have.

Book an appointment with your local vet if the vomiting continues and your cat’s appetite does not return to normal after a couple of days.

3. Kidney disease

4. Urinary tract disease

5. Urinary tract disease

6. Digestive obstruction, indigestion, or constipation

7. Medication or vaccination

Sometimes, feline vaccinations or medication can cause cats to lose their appetite. Check the side effects of the medication with your vet to make sure that your cat’s sudden loss of appetite is just related to the medication and not something else.

How Long Can a Cat Go Without Eating

8. Anxiety, stress, or depression

A cat’s psychological well-being can also cause a cat to stop eating. Stressors such as moving from one house to another, the addition of a new baby or pet, changes in routine, and other environmental changes can all affect a cat’s appetite.

9. Arthritis

10. New food

11. Decreasing metabolism

12. Boredom or fussiness

Cats can be notoriously finicky with their food, and it’s possible for them to suddenly lose interest in a particular brand of cat food. It’s also normal for cats to snob a meal or two simply because they don’t feel like eating it.

13. Might just be full

Of course, it can also be that your cat is just full or they have consumed more than enough food or water for the day.

It’s also important that you know the recommended dietary serving for your cat each meal and every day. You can ask your vet about it.

What Are the Dangers in Cats for Not Eating for a Long Time?

Just like any living creature, cats need food and water to survive. If a cat stops eating, or if they can’t find food for 24 to 36 hours, they need to be examined by a veterinarian.

This is true even if they have access to clean water during that time. Life-threatening conditions can happen if a cat fails to eat for a couple of days.

The side effects of a poor appetite with subsequent weight loss by at least 30 percent are more dangerous for overweight cats. Once obese cats can’t take in adequate calories, they start to use up their stored fats for energy.

And this can lead to the buildup of fats in the liver. If the liver fails to remove the excess fatty deposits, the cat can suffer from hepatic lipidosis with resultant liver failure.

Prolonged protein depletion due to the cat’s loss of ability or appetite to eat can just worsen hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver disease in cats.

While this is a serious and life-threatening condition that must not be taken lightly, it is not an immediate concern for cats that are not having enough nutrition.

The more pressing health issues that need to be addressed immediately are dehydration and a weakened immune system.

And even if the cat is drinking a lot of water, but there’s vomiting or diarrhea, then, the cat won’t be well-hydrated, too. This can rapidly escalate as an emergency, which warrants supportive care at a veterinary hospital.

A completely dehydrated cat is also at risk of having kidney failure. Hence, seeking the vet’s help as soon as possible is crucial for the cat’s survival and to have a better long-term prognosis.

Also, once your cat stops eating, his organs will start to deteriorate due to the lack of nutrients that they need to function. A cat’s digestive system shuts down first, followed by his brain, and lastly, his heart.

How Long Can a Cat Go Without Eating? 13 Reasons Why Your Cat is Not Eating 1

How Can You Get Your Cat to Eat?

If you notice that your cat isn’t eating at all, or isn’t eating the way that he used to, you can do some tricks at home before taking a trip to the vet. Here are some remedies or ways that you can try to get your cat to eat again:

  • If your cat is currently taking medication or is still recuperating from an illness, simply let him eat his food slowly. You can also try to feed him with your hands and praise him if he eats.
  • It’s also best to feed your cat in a quiet place to give him privacy. Allow him to eat his food slowly.
  • Cats don’t like cold foods. If you are serving your kitten with wet kitten food, try warming the food lightly before serving. You can also try a different flavor or a different brand.
  • If your cat is into dry foods. Trying a different-shaped kibble may do the trick.
  • If your cat allows, gently open his mouth and try putting a small amount of food on his tongue so he can taste it. This can often stimulate a cat’s appetite to eat.
  • You can also try adding tuna water or the juice from a tuna can into his solid food.
  • Make sure that your cat’s water bowl is clean, as well as his food bowl.

When Should You See Your Vet After Your Cat Refuses to Eat?

The reasons for your cat’s sudden loss of appetite can vary. And the decision to finally take your cat to the vet also depends on your cat’s individuality.

As a cat parent, you must know your cat’s unique behaviors. For some cats, not eating a meal or two may not be unusual. Other cats also have an occasional loss of appetite due to vomiting caused by hairballs, or plant ingestion.

However, whatever the reason, you have to bring your cat to the vet if he fails to eat for more than 24 hours. Like what was mentioned earlier, many of the reasons why cats won’t eat are connected with their health.

As such, the best person that could help determine the exact cause and develop a treatment plan is your nearest veterinarian.

When it comes to your cats, we are sure you don’t want to leave anything to chance. If you are in doubt, don’t delay, and head on to your vet right away.

How Long Can a Cat Go Without Eating? 13 Reasons Why Your Cat is Not Eating 2

What happens if a cat doesn't eat for 3 days?

With no water or food, it is unlikely that a cat would survive longer than three days. It is important to emphasize that when it comes to cat health, a cat that has had no food for as little as two days can become malnourished and unwell and may even need urgent veterinary care.

How long is it safe for a cat not to eat?

Cats can survive for about two weeks without eating but only three days without drinking. The longer your cat goes without proper nutrition, however, the weaker they become, so it's important to contact your vet if you suspect they haven't eaten in a day or more.

Will a cat starve itself to death?

If a cat goes longer than 2 to 3 days without food, she can go into liver failure – also known as feline hepatic lipidosis – a potentially deadly disease. Cats can literally starve themselves to death. The first step in treatment is being able to recognize some of the common reasons why cat just stops eating.

Should you force feed a cat?

It is very important that cats eat regularly! If a cat doesn't eat for 24-72 hours, we need to start force feeding. To do this, you'll need to get human baby food from the grocery store or blend cat food into gruel. Continue to offer stinky wet cat food, tuna fish, etc.

  • April 19, 2021
Mary Nielsen
 

A huge animal lover, born and raised around dogs, cats, chickens... Self-educated pet care nerd. Currently parent of three adopted cats and one small mutt. Animal adoption advocate. Loves a good book (about animals) and playing the piano.

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