How Long Can Cats Go Without Food? [Every Detail You Should Know]

It’s annoying when your cat wakes you up for food in the middle of the night. But you would be more worried if your cat stops eating for an entire day.

It happened with my cats for a few times, but luckily, my buddy started taking food after day two. Should you be scared or not? Actually, it’s both.

Some cats probably no longer love their regular diet or having some issues with the inner organs. While on the other hand, some cats starve when they are severely ill. The problem becomes even more severe if the cat stops drinking water too.

Each of these situations requires you to take different initiatives to make your cat eats.

How long your pet can survive without food, what are the diseases that can trigger within this time, and how you can deal with the situation?

This article will tell you pretty much everything related to this issue.

Why Do Cats Refuse to Eat?

Why Do Cats Refuse to Eat
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Cats love to eat frequently, and if a cat refuses to eat for 24 hours or even more, know that there are some reasons behind its refusal. These below are the most common reasons why cats restrain themselves from food;

1. Injury

This is the reason in most cases. Even, it happened to my cat also. If your cat recently had an injury and still recovering from it, it’s normal for the pet not to eat anything for a day. My cat had a fight with a local cat and injured severely. He was starving for around 36 to 40 hours.

Most of the animals go on starve when they are injured, and this is not an exception with the little tigers.

2. Disease

The cat might have some health issues which is causing it not to eat anything. It can be a toothache or even a problem with inner organs.

If your cat feels pain while eating, it will avoid food to get rid of the unpleasant feeling, even if it has to starve for days. Such pain includes dental issues, jaw pain.

Some cats restrain themselves from eating due to kidney failure. If the issue is with the kidney, then a cat loses its weight during the initial stage. Further, the cat shows symptoms like excessive fatigue, poor movability, and finally, her lack of interest in having food.

When a cat has a digestive problem, this makes it feel sick and not crave for food. Issues such as tumors, inflammation, foreign body, any part from the mouth to anus related to the gastrointestinal tract can cause such a problem.

The issue can also be because of diabetes. Yes, you heard me right. Cats develop diabetes too. As far as the health issue is concerned, only a vet can diagnose and tell you precisely what the reason is.

3. Boring Regular Diet

Your feline may no longer have any craving for the food that you regularly feed it. But if you provide a lot of variety of food items, and it is still not showing any interest in food, then the issue has to do nothing with its diet.

4. Depression

Yes, cats can be depressed too. Situations such as, a new pet in the house, a house full of guests, etc. make cats depressed, which is known as feline depression. Significant decoration changes of your house, new people, any changes in daily schedules can also affect a sensitive cat’s emotional state.

Usually, cats take a long time to be habituated with new foods. So, if there is a new food in its diet, offer some space and time until it normally adopts the change.

However, feline depression can also happen due to some other reasons as well, which are hard to identify.

5. Traveling

For the human, certain change in regular habit or routine can lead to loss of appetite. It is not an exception for the cats as well. When you travel with your cat by plane or car, it can experience motion sickness that leads to nausea and makes it not having any interest in food for a certain period.

How Long Can a Cat Survive Without Food?

How Long Can a Cat Survive Without Food
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Although cats can survive without food to some extent, however, the longer the period, the fatal the condition will become.

On average, cats can survive without food for about two weeks. This time length largely depends on how hydrated a cat is.

So, even if your cat turns into an elephant when it’s about mealtime, it can easily last more than a week without consuming food if all it only drinks is water.

Some other factors influence the survival period, such as age, genetic heritage, weather, emotional state, surroundings.

The survival period of older cats is less than adult ones. Similarly, kittens don’t last like adults as well.

How Long Can a Cat Survive Without Water?

How Long Can a Cat Survive Without Water
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Cats can survive only on water for about a week, but they cannot last more than three days without having anything, including water. To them, water is more essential than food for survival.

However, street cats can survive some more days without drinking water, as they will get the least amount of fluids from the prey.

When you are having an issue with your cat’s diet, make sure it gets the necessary amount of water until you figure out a solution. The sense of dehydration in cats is very weak; therefore, it can cause them serious harm before they show any signs.

If a cat eats food regularly but doesn’t drink enough water for weeks, it will also affect its inner organs severely.

Life-threatening complications like hepatic failure develop when a cat is severely dehydrated. Hepatic failure causes muscle mass to catabolize, which results in a painful and slow death.

Therefore, even if you are away from home for a few days, make sure there is an ample supply of freshwater so that your cat can survive if the food is finished until you return home.

What Happens During Starvation?

Cat During Starvation
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When a cat starves for too long, its inner organism uses stored fat as a source of energy. The liver helps to turn fat into energy. So, the liver needs protein as a source of energy to process fat. If there is not a sufficient amount of protein for the liver to work, it cannot function properly, which eventually results in liver failure.

Unlike a human, a cat’s body is not good at converting fat stored into energy. It makes the liver swell and turns yellow when there is too much stress on it for weeks. This fatal condition causes jaundice, yellow eyes, and other life-threatening complications.

Cats do need nutrients to keep them going. When a cat is on starvation, its body is deprived of the necessary nutrients that come from water and food. When it stops eating, slowly and gradually, the inner organs begin to weaken.

The first organ to shut down is the liver, which affects the digestive system as well. When the pet is completely dehydrated, it affects the kidney as well. If the starvation period is more than two days, inevitably the kidney will fail as well. Followed by the brain, the heart is the last organ to shut down.

So, even if it seems your cat can keep going two days without consuming anything, including water, still it’s not wise to let it do so. The next section will guide you on how to overcome the starving state and make your fur buddy eat.

What to Do When Your Cat Doesn’t Eat?

My Cat Is Not Eating
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As a cat-loving person, I know how it feels when your cat refuses to eat. If you are in a situation where your cat is not eating and getting weak and skinny day by day, follow these tips to increase its appetite for food.

1. The Smell of the Food

Most cats love to eat foods with a potent smell. If this is not an exception with your one, then mix some warm water with her food and serve it. The warm water will increase the smell and moist the food and keep your cat well-hydrated.

You can also microwave the food for about 10 seconds. Serve the food and see how the cat reacts to it. If it still refuses to eat, don’t worry, there are other useful tips as well.

2. Add Water and Make the Food Soft

You should have been familiar with the type of food that your cat loves most. If it loves to eat extremely moist and soft food, then increase the consistency of the food by adding a necessary amount of water. You can give it some warm and soft chicken stock.

3. Get Some Wet Foods

Buy some wet foods with different flavors and tastes. Open them and keep them in front of your cat, let the aroma of the food crave her to eat whatever she likes.

4. Give Canned Food

Canned foods are adequately moist and highly aromatic. Most cats find canned food even more delicious than treats. This is where most cat falls except for some rare cases.

5. Introduce Some Baby Food

Cats love baby food as well. Human baby food such as turkey, chicken are very delicious items to them. Before serving the food on her bowl, warm it a bit to increase the aroma.

6. Give Your Cat Treats

Although treats for cats are of high calories, it’s worth giving them when the owner is having difficulty in feeding them. Most cats love treats, and they are crazy about it.

If your cat doesn’t eat after surgery, shifting house, or for any other reason then give it some treats and see if it likes those. After all, it’s better to have some food than none.

7. Variation of Items and Flavors

Name one menu that you love the most. Let’s say it’s pizza. How it would seem to you if you were to give pizza for three months consistently. You would be bored having the same meal even though it’s your favorite.

The same thing also applies to cats. They get bored eating the same menu day after day, month after month, year after year. Give your feline foods of various tastes and flavors and see how it responds to the new flavors.

8. It’s Tuna Time

Cats are crazy about fish that smell potent like tuna. The strong smell of tuna will make your cat entice to eat. Make sure the tuna is a bit warm and soft.

9. Try Alternative Diet

You can also try to make your cat eat by giving it the foods that you have never given before. But, make sure you consult with your vet regarding the food.

In the market, you will find some great alternatives to dry and wet food. You can try frozen dried food, or even raw food if the vet says there is no problem trying these alternatives.

Don’t take visiting the vet lightly, because most foods of new lines don’t have a reputable success rate.

10. Karo Syrup for Energy

When cats refuse to eat anything, they lose energy pretty fast, which also causes a low appetite for food. To keep your cat energetic, you have to make it eat Karo syrup forcefully. Put some drops of Karo syrup on its gum. It will maintain her energy to eat.

11. Give Anything That She Loves

You should have an idea about things that your cat loves to eat the most. It doesn’t seem necessary that it would be some cat food; it can be human food as well. When you eat certain things, and your cat gets crazy about to have them, those are the foods you need to offer.

One of my cats used to eat scrambled eggs; it may sound strange, but more or less, most cats eat something unusual and different than what they regularly eat.

How to Maintain a Friendly Environment for Cats

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When your cat is not eating, know that the issue is not only with the food or its illness. The environment and surroundings play a big part as well. Make sure you follow the steps below to encourage your cat to eat.

1. Place the Bowl in Appropriate Location

Your cat should be friendly with the location of the bowl. Don’t keep the bowl in a position where your cat is scared to visit. If you have two or more cats in the house and they bully each other, keep two separate bowls in two different places.

Similarly, don’t place the bowl near the dog’s living area, machines that make a loud sound ex: washing machine, vacuum cleaner. Also, make sure your cat doesn’t require to pass through these places to get food.

2. Separate Location for Litter Box, Water, and of Course the Bowl

Naturally, cats don’t eat where they poop; they don’t drink from dirty water or where dead animals lie. So, even if you are keeping a cat inside the house, still she will not eat near the litter box, no matter how expensive it is.

Similarly, if your cat is toilet trained, then she will not eat near the toilet seat as well, regardless of how expensive or clean the seat is.

Therefore, keep its food bowl away from the litter box and water. These three things should be in separate places.

3. Size of the Food Bowl

The bowl shouldn’t be too deep. If you don’t find any suitable bowl, then get plates for your feline. The thing is, in a deep bowl, when the cat reaches for food, its whiskers touch the edges of the bowl. It causes them whisker stress. They feel very uncomfortable, and some find this very disturbing.

4. Medicine into the Bowl

If you need to medicate your cat on a daily basis, then putting medicine into its food bowl isn’t a good idea. As they have powerful smelling sense, they will always smell the food before touching.

However, the best way to medicate cats is to use treats. Give your cat treat and hide the medicine inside the food.

My Cat Doesn’t Eat but Acting Normal

This case isn’t something unusual for cats. They act like a pro when it comes to masking illness. If your cat isn’t eating properly, but you don’t see any sign of weakness in her, know that internally the feline is going through some major issues.

Within a few days, your starving cat will lose weight. Gradually, the feline will start producing energy from her fat stores, and this will lead to hepatic lipidosis, which will cause the liver to fail.

Hepatic Lipidosis

When a cat refuses to eat anything, its body doesn’t get nutrients and energy. As a result, the inner organism starts using fat stores and turn them into energy. The liver stays super active during this conversation and dysfunctions due to low energy. That’s why hepatic lipidosis is also referred to as a fatty liver disease.

Whenever an animal undergoes through starvation, this is what happens to their inner parts. They look skinny due to using fat stores for energy.

If this condition isn’t treated on time, animals including cats have a high chance of dying.

Symptoms of Hepatic Lipidosis

There are some signs that an affected feline will show during the starvation period;

  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy

Final Words

Cats are not less than a family member to cat owners. Therefore, they make sure their cats are in good health. If you find your cat isn’t eating anything, the very first thing to make sure is whether it’s well hydrated by other means. Follow the tips that are mentioned above to make it eat.

If the tips are not working, then make sure you have a cat-friendly environment and surrounding inside the house. And still, if you are unable to make it eat, consult with the vet as soon as possible to prevent further complications.

3 thoughts on “How Long Can Cats Go Without Food? [Every Detail You Should Know]”

  1. A very informative and well-researched article. However, please have someone proofread and edit your writing before you post it. It’s a good piece. All the best!


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