How Long Can Cats Go Without Eating?

Just like with any pet out there, cats absolutely love to eat. But if your cat suddenly starts losing appetite and totally ignores the food that you feed it, this could be a cause for concern.

How long can a cat go without eating?

First we discuss how long a cat can live without eating. Then we talk about some possible reasons for the loss of appetite and how you can fix it.

How Long Can Cats Go Without Eating?

Most cats can survive for one to two weeks without eating if all other survival needs (shelter, water, etc.) are met.

Although there’s no actual timetable for each and every cat out there in terms of how long they can go without eating, all cats will go through the same emotional and physical changes whenever they stop eating.

Remember that if your cat stops eating, it won’t get enough nutrients its body needs in order to function at the optimum level. It’s the liver of the cat that processes body fats that will soon be used for energy.

If your cat isn’t getting a sufficient amount of protein, you can’t expect your feline to function well. A lot of times, cats that are deprived of food for a long time end up suffering from liver failure.

Starvation could trigger severe damage to the organs of your pet and this could lead to fatal consequences.

Most cats can usually go without food for a week or two. But this will also depend on certain factors, such as whether they’re drinking water or not.

cat eat, closeup image of domestic cat eat food

Other factors that could affect the cat’s survival rate without food are:

  •       Age
  •       Emotional state
  •       Genetic heritage
  •       Surroundings
  •       Weather

Cats on the senior years won’t last as long as the younger cats without food. In the same way, small cats and kittens won’t be able to last longer as the adult cats when deprived of food.

Depending on the level of activity that your pet does on a daily basis, along with the weather conditions and genes, its organs could start to wear down after only a few days of being deprived of food.

How Long Can Your Cat Go without Water?

Sure, food may be more essential than water due to the nutrients in it, but sometimes, it’s the other way around.

Cats that live outdoors are able to survive for long without water compared to indoor cats. That’s because they can get fluids from the prey that they catch outside. But as a general rule, all felines can survive without water for up to 4 days before they end up with organ failure.

Water is very important for the survival of your feline friend, most especially if it suddenly stops eating. However, unlike other pets, cats don’t have a strong sense of dehydration so they won’t really know if they’re already dehydrated.

If your cat doesn’t get enough water, it could end up with health complications and any condition your cat has could worsen. Kittens and hyperactive cats are also more susceptible to dehydration since they burn fluids faster.

Why Do Cats Stop Eating?

There are many reasons why your cat will suddenly stop eating.

Limited Choices in Food and Drinks

If you feed your cat the same food and drink every single day, your pet will eventually grow tired of it.

Although cats don’t necessarily need to have a wide selection of food and drinks, you can never convince a cat to eat or drink if they don’t find the food or drink appetizing anymore.

young cat eating food from kitchen plate

So, to encourage your cat, try to alternate its food or drinks. For instance, you can feed your cat dry food today and wet food tomorrow.

Your Cat Just Doesn’t Want to Eat

Some pet owners end up overfeeding their cats early in the day, which is why the pet won’t find the need to eat anymore. It’s also common for some pet owners to reward their pets with food during training. So, when mealtime comes, the pet just doesn’t want to eat anymore.

The reason why your cat is refusing food or drink is that it’s not hungry or thirsty so there’s really no need to force it. There’s no need for concern if this lasts for a day.

You can often tell when your cat “just doesn’t want it” since he or she will be hungry again tomorrow 🙂

It Could Be Suffering from Certain Illnesses

If your cat suddenly stops eating and refuses food or drink for several days, then this could mean it’s suffering from certain illnesses. Lack of interest in food and drinks that it used to love could be a sign that something is wrong with your pet.

Perhaps, your cat is suffering from an upset stomach or has a toothache or mouth pain that makes it difficult for it to chew its food. Whatever the reason is, your best bet is to take your cat to the vet if he or she hasn’t eaten for more than a day.

What to Do If Your Cat Refuses to Eat or Drink

The moment you notice that your cat isn’t eating enough food or drinking enough water as it used to in the past, you should immediately take the time to observe your cat’s behavior and have a closer look at it to rule out any diseases.

Try to find out if the reason behind your cat’s refusal to eat is because it has an upset stomach or it’s suffering from a toothache or mouth pain.

If your cat refuses to drink the water you give it but you find it drinking from faucets, consider getting a pet fountain. Another way to encourage your cat to get more fluids is to feed it with canned food.

You can also add a small amount of water to the food and feed it to your cat. This should help increase your cat’s body fluids level while also providing it with the nutrition that its body needs. This isn’t preferred, but you can do it if you think that your little guy or gal isn’t getting enough liquid.

owner offering food to cat

For cats that refuse to eat, try switching their food to something new or food that has been tried and tested to be appetizing for felines. Try to reheat canned foods before feeding them to your cat. You should also consider changing the feeding bowl that you use to feed it.

When you notice that your cat hasn’t been drinking or eating for quite a while, there’s no need to panic. Sometimes the reason may have to do with the stressful surroundings or perhaps your cat is threatened by the presence of a new pet in your household.

But, if it’s already more than 24 hours and your cat is still not diving in, then it’s time to visit the vet. Malnourishment can lead to fatal consequences, so never take these things lightly.

When Will A Cat Die of Starvation?

We’re looking at one to two weeks before a cat dies of starvation. Due to the way your cat’s liver processes fat, your pet could end up starving itself to death quite a bit faster than a human would. It’s best to keep an eye on your cat and if he or she isn’t eating, take a trip to the vet.

What If Your Cat Acts Normal Despite Not Eating for a While

Cats are capable of masking their state of starvation and acting normal even though they haven’t been eating for a while.

Cats are smart creatures and they don’t want their prey to see them weak, which is why they tend to mask their actual condition.

But don’t be fooled by this. Don’t wait for your cat to suffer from liver failure or hepatic lipidosis (it’s as scary as it sounds) before you do something.

If you can’t convince your cat to eat and it’s been 24 hours already, take it to the vet. Even if he or she is not showing any signs of weakness, you still need to get your pet checked. Most of the time, the vet will put your pet on steroids to bring back its appetite and get it to eat.


As you can see, there are lots of reasons why cats will just suddenly stop eating.

Also, the length of time through which a cat can go without eating will vary depending on certain factors.

Nevertheless, it’s very important that you feed your cat well and keep a close eye on its eating and drinking habits.

If you notice that your cat hasn’t been eating for a while, it’s time to take it to the vet. Even if your cat looks like it’s doing just fine, you should still get a professional opinion.

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