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[Ultimate Guide] How Long Can Cats Survive Without Eating Food And Water?

How long can a cat eat without food? We would likely ask if we went on an extended vacation, and our cat has run out of food to eat. Alternatively, when our cat refuses to consume the food, we prepared for her.

Do not worry; our cat will not pass away if she has not eaten in 2-3 days. According to Dr. Lou Budik of the Transit Valley Animal Hospital in New York, healthy cats can go for weeks without food or water.

So even we were stranded in another country or location because of unforeseen circumstances like snowstorms, we do not need to fret. Our cat should be fine also if our cat has no food at home.

However, a cat that refuses to eat or drink water for several days is a different case altogether. It may lead to serious health problems such as dehydration and hepatic lipidosis.

Is it possible for a cat to go one day without food?

The regular feline can get by for one to about fourteen days without food on the off chance that they have water gracefully. In any case, it might be more similar to three to four days without protein, regardless of whether they have enough water. With no water or food, it is improbable that a feline would endure longer than three days.

Yes, it is possible. Our cat can survive a day without food, but it suggests never to risk it.

There comes the point where a cat’s body stops converting the fat stores into energy. The broken-down fat will bring down the liver function as soon as the cat enters a state of starvation (happens between 24 to 48 hours). Due to this, the liver swells and turns yellow, causing jaundice in our cat, pale color of the yes, and various other problems leading to death.

Are We Concerned for a Cat Declining Food?

Cats have a very typical power, which enables them to hide any illness or hereditary disease. Then if we detect the problem at a later stage, leading them to have very little or no time in hand to cure the illness. Generally, a change in appetite is the most obvious point to consider in the cat’s health.

A feline can usually last one whole week without food. Still, some feline cats only survive for 3-4 days.

What Happens if a Cat Goes Hungry for a Long Time?

How much food do cats need?

Cats may overfeed as they must minimal nutrition to survive and remain healthy. Professionals agree the recommended range of calories that a cat need is between 24 and 35 calories per day of every pound. For example, suppose our feline friend weighs 4 pounds. She may need anything between 96 and 140 calories to remain healthy and maintain the ideal body weight.

Feral and indoor cats need daily fluids and nutrition to stay healthy and live longer. When our cat does not get enough food, its organism turns towards the body fat to find energy.

Hepatic Lipidosis

Another health problem that may arise if our cat refuses to eat for an extended period is hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver disease. This is considered as the most common type of liver disease in felines.

When our cat has not eaten for a long period, fat cells in their bodies are metabolized for energy. This is in response to starvation. The fat cells, however, build up in the liver due to the lack of available protein.

The accumulated fat cells build up in the liver, disrupting its normal function in the process. The affected cat further loses appetite and, worse, feels sick. This further complicates the situation.

Aside from lack of appetite, the following are some of the signs of hepatic lipidosis in cats:

  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Small tools in the litter box
  • Hiding in unusual places like the closet
  • Weight loss

Our cat will not just refuse to eat for no reason at all. The following are some of the common reasons why cats starve themselves:

  • Introduction of a new diet without her getting acclimated to it. Cat owners should know that felines are not great at adapting to sudden diet changes.
  • Introduction of a new pet in the household, like a new dog or cat. This can cause environmental stress, and lead to our cat starving herself.
  • Stressful situations, like guests who stay in our house for an extended period. Our cat could get distressed, and this can affect her appetite.
  • Even the birth of a baby can cause environmental stress on our cat.

If left untreated, fatty liver disease in cats can potentially lead to death.

How critical is it for cats to go without food?

Cats skipping meals are very dangerous and may cause serious conditions (untimely death, too!).

As a fatty liver disease, hepatic lipidosis is the most common liver disease in cats. Hepatic lipidosis comes into existence when there is an excessive generation of fat in the cells and tissues of a cat’s liver. Suppose hepatic lipidosis does not stop it before it gets out of hand.

Unfortunately, we cannot force food or water down our kitty’s throat when it refuses to eat or drink on its own. If our kitty is a good drinker, then the situation is not that alarming.

How does it all start?

A cat’s fat cells start metabolizing for energy when it goes for a long period without eating. All the animals have this healthy body response to famish. The fat then combines with protein and sends it to all the cells in the body via the bloodstream.

Besides, when our cat is not eating, their body lacks protein, a build-up of fat in the liver, and disrupting this organ’s function. As the animal feels sick, it does not feel like eating, which worsens the situation.

Side Effects of Starvation

Living without food or water has dangerous effects on everyone’s body. Our cat’s body will stop functioning, blood pressure drops, and all the organs of our cat’s body will degenerate.

The Harm of Sudden Weight Loss in Cats

Without any specific reasons, if our cat does not eat for 24-36 hours, we should get it checked by a vet. If our cat starves for a few days or a few weeks, essential and even life-threatening problems can occur.

For overweight cats, a continuous loss of appetite and a sudden loss of body weight by at least 30% can be very harmful. Fat cats start using their stored fat to create energy if they fail to have an appropriate intake of food. Moreover, this is further causing the liver’s storage of fat.

If the liver cells fail to remove the extra fatty deposits, hepatic lipidosis occurs and leads to liver failure.

What happens to a cat if it does not drink water?

What is the amount of water that cats need?

Generally, cats drink from their bowl of water whenever they feel thirsty. Besides, what is the exact measure of water intake that a cat requires? It usually depends on several elements.

Nonetheless, one can always get an idea by taking a close look at their cat’s actions. Here is a point that can consider measuring our cat’s water intake. The cat’s size will affect its water need, a small cat will need less water, and a big cat will need more water.
As long as our pet has a water source available in our house, our cat will survive, even if we forget to leave food for it.

Dehydration In Cats

Dehydration happens when a cat’s body has lost an excessive amount of fluid. We are not only talking of water here, but also electrolytes such as chloride, sodium, and potassium, all of which are essential for our cat’s normal body function.

Usually, dehydration is caused by illnesses such as diarrhea, fever, diabetes, and heatstroke.

One clear sign that our cat is dehydrated is when there is a loss of skin elasticity. We can check skin tenting gently, pinching an area of skin, preferably at the chest or back.

After we release the pinched area, observe how fast or slow the skin returns to place. In a dehydrated cat, the skin would usually remain in a pinched position instead of returning immediately into place.

If our cat’s skin did not return to place right away, we should bring her to a veterinarian.

Other signs of dehydration in cats include dry and tacky gums and listlessness.

What happens if a cat gets dehydrated?

Like us humans, cats need water too. Water helps our bodies to stay healthy, hydrated, and active throughout the day. Less intake of water can affect a cat’s body, health, and other functions.

This can also lead to frustration, especially when we do not know what steps to take next. A lack of water intake can have a detrimental effect on a cat’s health.

6 Reasons Why Our Cat is Not Eating!

Sickness or illness

This is one of the most common reasons. If our cat does not feel like eating, it may sick or ill and in too much pain. This is a critical health issue and needs to take care of as soon as possible. It becomes even more vital to consider if our cat shows other symptoms like fever, nausea, or fatigue.

Lack of taste

Another reason for our cat not wanting to eat can be boredom. If our cat gets bored with the same kind of food or does not like the taste of the food, she will not have it. Cats do not like to eat bad tasting food.

Suffering from pain

Due to specific reasons, such as age or weak teeth, our cat might have a painful time while eating the food we give her. This is another prominent reason for our cat’s disinterest in eating the food.

Side effects

Sometimes, vaccines and medicines can cause a lack of appetite. Suppose our cat is on a new kind of medication or has recently been vaccinated. In that case, the chances are that it may lack taste because of that.


Yes, animals get stressed too. If we travel with cats, our cat might get stressed because of these changes around it, leading to a loss of appetite.

Dental Issues

Cats can experience some dental issues that cause mouth pain. Such as fracture their teeth, become inflamed on their gums, form dental abscesses.

However, dental issues may be challenging to diagnose in a cat. Our veterinarian may need to sedate or anesthetize our pet to check the problem.

Remedies, if our Cat is Not Eating or Drinking!

We have discussed the details of how long can a cat go without eating and water. We have all the necessary information.

Now, let us move on to the part where we give us the solutions for when we will come across these situations. If due for any reason, our cat stays dehydrated for a long time. We can follow these steps to handle our cat in that situation.

Try different types of food.

Like us humans, cats are very meticulous about the taste, texture, and feel of the food. Thus, if our cat does not like its food, try something special and new.

Cats usually have a history of sudden weight-loss and anorexia as well. These cats are also more likely to be fat before the period of starvation. Later, these cats might even have a pale yellow or color skin and an enlarged liver. We need to consider all of them when choosing food.

Keep switching

Cat food comes in many different and intriguing shapes, colors, and sizes. Keep trying variations, and we can even try different brands. Our cat might get attracted to new food and start eating it.

A new proactive approach: Try to rub the food on our cat’s tongue. A few cats like it, and so, a few of them hate it. Try using this technique; if our cat does not like it, do not force it on them as the situation might get out of our hands.

Take it slow

If our cat is dehydrated, feed it Pedialyte in small quantities and at 10-minute intervals in 1 hour. Keep an eye on our cat and ensure that it is drinking the water.

If our cat is in a recovery mode or is on some vaccination, do not force too much food on her. Let her eat her meal at her own pace. We can also feed our cats using our hands and with lots of love.

Add warm water into the cat food and feed it with a dropper.

A peaceful environment: we need to let our cat eat in a quiet and calm environment. Make sure that we give our cat eat and do not force it to overeat. We can use a dropper to feed our cat, or we can do it using our hands.

Take advice from an expert.

If all our efforts fail and nothing works for our cat, then immediately take it to a vet and get it checked. Cats are very meticulous about what they eat. Cats are also very stubborn. Hence if our cat finds her food odd, she will not eat it unless she wants to.

Cats also have a very delicate digestive system. They can get sick, and so they keep giving their stomach a little break whenever necessary. Usually, they get back on track within a few days. Meanwhile, we can keep a close eye on them and the change in their behavior.

When should the cat take to the vet?

This varies from one cat to another. We know our cat better than anyone else, and thus, we know the right time to take our cat to the vet. If there is an immediate difference in our cat’s behavior, we should keep an eye on them for a few days.

If they get back on track, there is nothing to worry about, but if they still act, we should get them checked. We should get our feline checked by a veterinarian immediately when we notice any drastic changes (sudden weight loss, laziness, depression).

It recommends keeping a check on their eyes as well. If something is wrong, our cat’s eyes will appear pale and weak, which is a sign of a medical problem.

Every cat is unique, and hence, we have to keep a check on our cat’s specific behaviors. For some cats skipping meals is not a big deal, whereas, for others, it may seem like a drastic change and so on. Hence, owners of such cats might wait a little longer as their cat usually keeps skipping a meal or two.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

The period we can disregard an adult feline relies upon the feline, his eating regimen, and our condition. Felines who eat dry food that we can make accessible might leave alone for 24-48 hours as long as new water is available.

What happens if a cat does not eat for three days?

Still the explanation, it is a significant concern if our feline quits eating. Suppose we have a fearless feline that stopped eating. In that case, it can create hepatic lipidosis by abandoning nourishment for a couple of days. This ailment alluded to as greasy liver illness or fatty liver condition, and it very well may be deadly whenever left untreated.

What can We feed a sick cat that will not eat?

Give them some canned/wet food (the stinkier, the better — attempt fish assortments). Give them some meat infant food. Include some water from a container of fish or anchovies to their food. Include a smidgen of warmed, low-sodium chicken stock to our food, regardless of whether it is kibble or canned.

How do we feed a starving cat?

We are taking care of minimal quantities of high protein wet food rather than dry food high in sugars. Likewise, we can add extra supplements to the wet food utilizing modest amounts of fish oil or Brewer’s Yeast.

Can we force-feed a cat?

Pet our feline and applause him. If our feline is willing, have a go at spilling a flimsy slurry of feline food into his mouth utilizing a needle. Try not to constrain the issue, be that as it may. feeding is upsetting for felines and perilous for we

How often do we force-feed a cat?

On the off chance that our kitty eats 4.5 ounces daily, that implies through the span of a day, and our feline should take care of nine 15ml needles of food. We can take care of one to 90 minutes. We can take care of two at regular intervals, and one by the day’s end.

Wrap it up

All in all, having a pet cat is not easy. Cats are a big responsibility, and they need constant love, care, and attention. Nevertheless, if we feed our cat well and take good care, we will not face any issues. Having the correct information about the behavior will make us a better pet’s parent.

Cats are survivors by nature. They can go for weeks without eating food. Thus, there is no need to panic if we are out on an extended vacation, and we left our pets at home without any food.

However, this does not mean that we should neglect the poor appetite in cats. A cat that refuses to eat may be suffering from a more severe health condition like hepatic lipidosis.

Did we come across a situation where our cat stopped eating? Was it because she is choosy or was it because she was sick? Does our cat still lose appetite? Feel free to share our thoughts, views, or stories about cats and their food and water intake.

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