How Long Can Cats Go Without Food & Water – Answered

How Long Can Cats Go Without Food

If you are a cat parent, you must’ve experienced your cat running away only to return after a day or two. But your cat always returns looking almost as fine as when it had disappeared. This might make you wonder how long can a cat go without eating? Cats are picky eaters, they might choose to turn their back on their favorite cat food out of the blue. 

There are times when a cat might lose its appetite or seem disinterested in food. Let’s take a look at why a cat is not eating or drinking water. 

8 Reasons Why Does Your Cat Refuse To Eat?

Why Does Your Cat Refuse To Eat
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It is not always easy to understand cat behavior. There are several reasons why your cat has stopped eating that includes;

1. Illness

Often cats stop eating when they are ill. You should keep a close watch on them, seek medical help if they are vomiting, look lethargic, or run a fever. 

2. Dental Problems

If your cat is suffering from tooth pain, inflamed gums, an abscess, or an oral tumor it can cause pain while chewing. Pay attention to your cat’s chewing ways, chewing only from one side or swallowing without chewing are indicators of getting a dental checkup. 

3. Indigestion

If your cat is vomiting or has diarrhea it could mean it has difficulty digesting something that it has eaten. They might not feel like eating after bouts of indigestion.

4. Medication 

Cats that are being administered medication or vaccinations can sometimes lose their appetite. 

5. Stress

Cats also feel stressed, which can make them lose interest in food. If you have recently changed your house or even a new addition to your home can make them stressed. 

6. Gastrointestinal issues 

Some gastrointestinal issues like colitis, gastroenteritis, parasites, or cancer can cause cats to quit eating. 

7. Slow metabolism 

For older cats, this is a major cause of not eating their food. As cats age, their metabolism becomes slow which is why they tend to eat less or not eat at all. 

8. Boredom 

Yes, like humans cats also get bored of eating the same thing every day. Cats are fussy when it comes to food, it’s not uncommon to see cats refuse a particular type of food because they don’t like it. 

How can I get my cat to eat?

How can I get my cat to eat?
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There are multiple ways you can try to get your cat to eat. If your cat is stressed, try to tweak its environment and make it more peaceful and comfortable. Using familiar food and bowls can encourage it to eat. Be patient, if you think your cat’s loss of appetite is due to medications. 

Try changing its diet with small portions of new foods, if there are underlying conditions. Give tuna or chicken in small quantities to entice them, make sure it is clean and has no bones, oils, or additives that your cat is allergic to. See a vet if your cat refuses to eat even after all these tips. 

How long can cats go without food?

On average cat can survive for a minimum of two weeks without food. Cats need protein for being healthy and joyful. It is important to note that the longer a cat goes without food, it becomes malnourished and ill. Cats need good food to lead a happy and healthy life. If you notice your cat not eating for more than a day or two, you should call your vet immediately to get timely treatment. 

How many days can cats go without water?

Much like humans, cats can live longer without food than water. Cats can’t live without water for more than three to four days. They get nutrients from their food and water. The longer they stay without water, they become dehydrated causing health complications and even death. 

What’s the average lifespan of a house cat?

The average lifespan of a house cat is impressively long these days, it can range anywhere between 12 to 15 years. This is assuring for many who would love to have a feline friend for themselves. 

What are the signs of a dying cat?

Cats hide injuries and illnesses well. There are signs that you must watch out for that indicate a dying cat which includes but are not limited to ;

  1. Extreme hiding 
  2. Lethargy
  3. Extreme weight loss
  4. Loss of appetite
  5. Not drinking water 
  6. Abnormal breathing

What kind of food you should offer to an ill cat?

To tempt cats to eat when they are ill, you should heat food to release the aroma. Give them cat biscuits dipped in juice from tuna can or chicken. Feed wet food for easy digestion. 

See Also

Some Common Cat Diseases

Common Cat Diseases
Image: Pexels

1. Urinary Tract Disease 

If you have a cat who is not urinating, you must be thinking how long can cats hold their bladder. One of the reasons is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases that can cause a blockage and make it difficult for cats to urinate. 

2. Cancer 

Cats, much like humans, can suffer from cancer. They can have tumors or cancer that is spread throughout the body. 

3. Feline Leukemia Virus

This virus affects the cat’s immune systems and causes various secondary illnesses once the system is weakened. It is only transmitted between cats through bodily fluids. 

4. Dental Disease

Dental diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis are common in cats. These affect the gums and teeth, it can hamper their appetite and cause pain. 


As cat parents, you will always worry about your beloved cat’s health. Following healthy habits and giving them a nutritious diet can help your cats live a happy life. Cats don’t show but they do need care and comfort especially when they are sick. Be alert and look for signs if your cat stops eating or drinking for 3 days or more and seek veterinary help immediately. 


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

Due to starvation, Hepatic lipidosis will occur that affects the liver accompanied with kidney failure. Organs slowly stop working if a cat doesn’t eat for 3 days ultimately leading to death if left untreated. 

What happens if a cat doesn’t eat for 24 hours?

If a cat doesn’t eat for 24 hours, it will become lethargic and weak. Cats can easily survive without food for 24 hours if they have a decent supply of water. 

Can cats go 8 hours without food?

The stomach anatomy of cats is simple. The food moves to the small intestine from the stomach in a few hours. Cats can go 8 hours without food as some might take that much time to digest the food. 

Should I force-feed a cat?

Avoid force-feeding a cat, it may cause vomiting and discomfort. It can also cause stress that can lead to many complications. Cats respond well to care, try comforting your cat before encouraging them to eat.

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