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From Hungry Hunters to Starvation Survivors: How Long Can Cats Go Without Food?

How Long Can Cats Go Without Food?

Cats are notoriously picky eaters, but this isn’t the only reason that they won’t eat. The issue of how long can cats go without food is widely discussed among owners who are concerned that their feline friend has suddenly lost interest in foods that they used to enjoy. 

The good news is that cats are incredibly resilient, so a couple of days of little to no food does not always mean that something is seriously wrong. There are several things you may check when your cat isn’t eating that may indicate a simple problem that you can fix. 

How Long Can Cats Go Without Food and Water?

If you are wondering how long can feral cats go without food the answer is up to two weeks as long as they have access to water. Without water, they would be unlikely to survive for more than a few days.

However, just because a cat may technically go that long without food doesn’t mean it won’t get extremely unwell and sick. Cats, like people, get all of the vitamins and minerals they need to survive from food, so going without is not an option. To go even further cats like their occasional treat either in the form of olives, eggs, or some other human food that cats can eat.

But how long can house cats go without food is another important question. Domestic cats should never be left without food. While people frequently believe that cats can survive without humans, not all felines are good at getting their own food. This is especially true for indoor cats, who lack the hunting abilities of their feral or stray siblings.

How Long Can Sick Cats Go Without Food?

A cat that is sick should not be left without water or food for longer than 48 hours. Water is required for digestion, waste elimination, and circulation. Unless the cat receives replacement fluids and high-quality nutrients, its medical condition will get worse and it will be unable to recover.

If your cat is ill, you’ll need to be more involved when it comes to feeding and drinking. Don’t just put food and water out and hope for the best. If a sick cat isn’t responding to what you’re doing, you should take it to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

How Long Can Baby Cats Go Without Food?

A healthy kitten can usually live for up to two days without food. However, if they go a day without eating, they will become malnourished and weak, and will most likely require emergency veterinarian treatment. Kittens have small stomachs and high needs for energy, therefore they must be fed often and in little amounts.

how long can cats go without eating, kittens eating food

Why is My Cat Not Eating?

There might be many reasons why your cat isn’t eating. Before making any conclusions try giving your feline friend a little treat, for example, give your cat a little catnip to see their response. While not eating could point to a health issue, there are also other, less serious reasons why your cat may have gone off their food. These are the most frequent reasons why your cat is not eating:


Some illnesses might reduce your cat’s appetite or make eating unpleasant. If your cat is suffering from diarrhea, vomiting, or dehydration, it is time to take them to the vet. Your cat may refuse to eat due to gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, renal problems, or urinary tract infections.

New Food

It is important to gradually introduce new foods to your cat. Changing foods might upset the cat’s digestive system or contain ingredients that your cat dislikes.

Recent Vaccination

Your pet requires vaccinations. Vaccines, on the other hand, can briefly make the cat unwell. This is typically a positive sign since it suggests that the cat’s body is developing immunity. However, one of the symptoms can be a lack of appetite.

Dirty Bowls

If the cat’s food and water dishes are unclean, it may refuse to eat or drink. Dirty cat dishes, in addition to causing anorexia and dehydration, are a source of harmful bacteria and pose a major risk to your cat’s health in general.


In general, older cats eat less than younger, more energetic cats. Loss of appetite is common as they age, but it can lead to malnutrition or other health problems. They also drink less even when they have unlimited access to clean water.

Tricks to Get Your Cat to Eat

If you see your cat eating less food than normal or not eating at all, you might try a few things at home before visiting the vet. For example, if your cat eats wet food, experiment with different flavors or just warm the food before feeding.

If your cat loves to eat cheese, try giving it just a little slice to see if that would boost the appetite. Some cats are quite picky about the consistency or texture of their food. Changing from minced food to a pate, or vice versa, could appeal to a picky eater.

Dry food is available in a range of forms and sizes. A change to a differently shaped kibble might be effective. 

If these methods do not work, or if your cat displays additional signs of distress, be proactive and arrange an appointment with a vet.

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