How Long Can a Cat Go Without Food?

Are you wondering how long a cat can go without food?

Well you have come to the right place.

Being a cat parent involves you monitoring your cat’s every move.

If you are lucky enough to live with your cat from the day it was born, you are in a better position to know if your cat is doing well and when there is an issue that has to be taken care of ASAP.

Despite you knowing your cat like the back of your hand, your furball’s behavior can be hard to understand.

One of the behaviors could be your cat not eating.

In this article I will be answering the question, “How long can a cat go without food?”

I will also enlighten you on:

  • how long a cat can stay without food
  • reasons why your cat is not eating
  • consequences of your cat staying without food 
  • the factors determining whether your cat will survive after a long time without food.
  • how to get your cat back to its eating habits
  • remedies of how to care for your cat if it will not eat
  • mistakes to look out for when feeding your cat  


How Long Can A Cat Stay Without Food? 

All felines have different changes; there is no specified timeframe to ascertain how long cats can go without food.

On average, a cat can stay for up to two weeks without food in the presence of water.

Come to think of it; that is longer than the period a human being can take. Naah, I am kidding!

On a serious note, with water, a cat has a longer chance of living. Without protein, a cat can go up to 4 days of life, even in the presence of water.

I am not a certified vet, but from my research, I have discovered that proteins are paramount in a cat’s health, most especially animal protein.

Without both food and water, a cat can go up to 5 days. When a cat is unwell, it can go up to 36 hours without food. 


Poor nutrition amounts to a weak: factual to all living creatures.

When your cat goes past two days without eating well, call or preferably visit your veterinarian to minimize any risks that may come up from hunger and poor nutrition.

Lack of proper feeding within two days will lead to malnourishment.


After surgery

If a cat has been through surgery, it can get to 24 hours without food because of obvious reasons such as being weak and disoriented, anesthesia, and pain. 


Reasons Why Your Cat is Not Eating.

The main reason why your cat is not eating is because of a condition known as Anorexia which comes because of lack of appetite.

Anorexia is also present in humans. Anorexia could be a sign of an underlying condition that needs urgent treatment.

Aside from that, the following are reasons why your cat is not eating.


1.      Your cat is under the weather. 

 Your cat could be unwell because of: 

  1.  ingesting foreign substances, 
  2. Dental issues, for example, a sore tooth or inflamed gums. A dental problem is clear-cut if the cat will not let you touch its head.
  3. urethral tract disease
  4. cancer
  5. Pancreatitis
  6. Liver and kidney issues
  7. Gastrointestinal problems, for example, parasites and colitis.


2.       Hormonal changes.

It could be because of pregnancy or the onset of an illness.


3.      Motion sickness.

Cats do not have a great experience during a travel window, no matter how short it could be.

The bad experience is because cats are creatures of habit, and once altered, their response to change is awful hence motion sickness. 


4.      Respiratory issues 

Just like you, cats also catch colds. Cats experience similar symptoms as humans on the onset of a cold: that is, watery eyes and sneezing. 


5.      Stomach upset

It occurs because of indigestion and constipation. It is usually vivid when the cat has diarrhea and vomiting symptoms.


6.      Medication/Vaccination

Research on the side effects of any medication administered.

If one of the side effects is loss of appetite, do not be worried: instead, consult your vet to get proper advice on how you can feed your feline creature.


7.      Stress and anxiety

Look at you shamelessly debating with yourself whether cats experience stress and anxiety or not. Lol.

I was once like you 😉 Anyway, cats get distressed due to life events like moving halfway across the world/country, having new people over in your home, meeting dogs, and drastic change in feeding routine.


8.      Metabolism 

Cats slow down as they age. It is because old cats have a decreased appetite compared to younger cats.


9.      Change in seasons

During summer, cats take more water and little to no food, while during winter, cats eat more food because food generates lots of heat in the body to sustain the cold weather.


10. Boredom from a specific food brand/lack of flavor in food 

It should not be shocking information for you. I mean, your feline companion has picky tendencies with food too.

If you are guilty of feeding your cat a similar food type for a long time, it will get to a point your furball will not want to eat anymore.

I would recommend changing up your cat’s diet at regular intervals.


11. Lack of food

At times cats do not eat because they do not have access to food. It could be because:

  1. the food is rotten.
  2. the owner left without leaving food for the cat
  3. the cat getting trapped in a place with no food
  4. the cat lives in poverty 


Consequences Of Your Cat Staying Without Food.

  • Organ failure

That is a very haste process when it begins and can be fatal if not treated at its early stages because organs shut down quickly.

The digestive system fails first, then the brain, and finally, the heart, which takes a long time before it fails.


  • Hepatic lipidosis 

It is an illness in the liver caused by starvation. Lack of proteins in cats can also cause this disease. 



Importance of animal protein.

If you live with your cat and you happen to be vegan, please do not turn your cat into one.

Animal proteins have amino acids necessary for growth and good health that plants lack.

The deficiency of animal proteins also causes hepatic lipidosis.



Factors Determining Whether Your Cat will survive a long time without Food. 

  • Age 

Young cats have a higher chance of survival compared to older cats. Adult cats also have a higher chance of survival compared to kittens.


  • Weather

During hot times, cats eat little to no food to avoid generating heat. If you know your biology right, then you should know that food initiates heat in the body.


How to Get Your Cat Back to its Eating Habits.



Medication and vaccines Your cat could be affected by the side effects that come with medicines and vaccines. Exercise patience with your feline creature, reward him for eating, and within no time, your pet will be back on track.


Stress and anxiety Ensure that your cat’s environment is peaceful. Use bowls that are familiar to your cat and do not change your cat’s diet rapidly. The bowls must be clean too. Keep other pets and children away (if you have any) from your cat’s feeding environment and make the place quiet.


Change in diet. Avoid doing it drastically; instead, introduce the new diet in small portions together with your cat’s favorite meals
Recovery from an ailment Cut down the amount of food your cat used to eat in half. If your cat will not feed itself, slowly incorporate food using your hand or a syringe. Preferably give your cat wet food or kitten feds if possible. You could also soak your furball’s favorite solid food with juice from a fresh tuna can.


Warm the food Cats do not like cold food. Heating the food will do the trick.

Remedies Of How to Care For Your Cat if it will not Eat.

  • Constantly feed your cat his favorite treat.
  • Ensure that there is sufficient drinking water.
  • Use a syringe to feed the cat forcefully. I do not recommend using force to feed your cat. It could cause more harm than good. 
  • Finally, the best advice is to visit your vet to get accurate information in depth.

Mistakes to Look Out For When Feeding Your Cat.

  • Excess food. : Just like humans, when you consistently serve your cat a lot of food, it will refuse to eat when it’s time because of having a full tummy.
  • Dry food. : Ensure that the food has some tuna water or there is water close to the food. 


Conclusion: How long Can a Cat Go Without Food?

With all this information at your disposal, I recommend visiting a veterinarian if you notice that your cat is not eating right. In most cases, staying without food is not healthy.

There have been cases of cats surviving without food for several days: without facing negative consequences.

It is not an assurance that your cat will be healthy afterward.

Outdoor cats can survive a long time without food because they get fluids from their prey, for example, mice, birds, and squirrels, but indoor cats will have trouble coping because their routine does not involve haunting.

If your cat is not eating, give wet food in small quantities to keep him hydrated.

Now we want to hear from you.

How long has your cat gone without food?

How did you go about feeding your cat after it took a while without food?

Let us know in the comments below.

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