How Long Can A Cat Go Without Eating?

Cats are relatively picky creatures, and you might wonder if that is the reason they are not eating. Or you have had instances where your cat gets missing and resurfaces after some days. Such encounters can trigger your mind to get a little bit curious and skeptical if it’s normal for cuts sometimes to starve. But then you ask yourself.

How long can a cat go without eating? With water supply, an average cat can beat the odds of survival of approximately one to two weeks. The flip side is when they don’t have protein, which reduces the survival rate to three to four days regardless of water availability.

Without food and water concurrently, your cat can barely survive for three days or even less. Regarding cats’ health, it is essential to note that when a cat starves for even two days, it will fall sick and malnourished, that you will need an urgent vet intervention. As human beings, regular fresh water and food supply will keep your pet happy and healthy.

Most cats are occasional hunters, and they can be good at it. But it may not be so for all domestic cats. Others could be accustomed to being fed and sit at the comfort of your provision with no single effort to fend for themselves. So, don’t assume that successful hunting requires skills that might lack some domestic cats, reducing them to depend on you entirely.

What does it mean if my cat won’t eat?

The undisputed fact would be when your cat is ill. But you might be wrong when you go by that assumption. If you have monitored your pet’s behavioral changes, you will find out more that affects cats’ appetite other than sickness. If a day will pass your cut yet hasn’t eaten, treat it urgently and call a vet. The best treatment is measured by early diagnosis; in this case, you will still enjoy your good time with your pet.

What happens if a cat doesn’t eat?

Cats depend on food and water for vital nutrients. If they don’t have access to food and water for one reason or another, it can be fatal. Cat organs can not withstand starvation, and therefore, they quickly shut down. The cat liver cannot solely support its body’s energy for long without any other energy reservoir.

Here are some of the harmful consequences that your cat may suffer if it doesn’t eat.

1. Hepatic lipidosis.

Hepatic lipidosis is a fatal illness of the liver that arises from starvation due to illness or simply your cat refusing to eat. It is evident by characteristically fatty liver and is the primary cause of liver failure that is potentially reversible.

The liver is central in vital functions like the synthesis of vitamins and proteins, metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, production of clotting factors, storage of iron and vitamins, and breakdown and excretion of toxins.

2. Organ failure

As we saw earlier, the cat’s system shuts within no time when it doesn’t eat, leading to multiple organ dysfunction syndromes (MODS) and can be characterized by one or more organ failure.

The dysfunction starts with the digestive system, brain, and finally, the heart.

MODS are tragic to your cat, and therefore, you need immediate vet intervention to revive the hopes for survival. The symptoms may not be so distinct from the conventional diseases ranging from vomiting to coma.

Symptoms of Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome in Cats

The signs mimic the common feline infections but also depend on the organ involved. Here are the organ systems with associated signs and symptoms.

1. Neurologic

  •  Depression 
  •  Coma

2. Renal

  •  Glycosuria
  •   Anuria
  •   Proteinuria
  •   Renal tubular casts
  •   Oliguria

3. Gastrointestinal.

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Hematemesis(Blood in vomit)
  • Melena(black-coloured feces-digested blood)

4. Cardiac

  • Tachycardia
  • Hypotension
  • Bradycardia
  • Global hypothermia
  • Pale mucous membrane
  • Arrhythmias
  • Pulse volume
  • Cyanosis
  • Pulmonary crackles
  • Tachypnea
  • Orthopnea
  • Cough
  • Decreased cardiac output

5. Hepatic

  • Bilirubinuria
  • Hypoalbuminemia
  • Icterus
  • Decreased antithrombin
  • Elevated Total Bilirubin

Why won’t my cat eat?

You might be all wrong if you assume that your cat isn’t eating because of sickness. Cats are pretty cunning and can also make choices concerning eating, just like you and me. Let’s look at the causes that may affect your cat’s appetite.

Pain when eating

Dry food can cause your cat not to eat. First, assess your cat before serving it with dry food because it could have sensitive teeth or broken teeth due to injury or old age. The pain therein may be a significant hindrance for your cat to eat.


Anything new might cause stress to your cat like if you traveled with your pet into a new environment or a visitor came in with a new pet. Such changes may cause stress to your cat affecting its appetite.


When your cat falls ill, it could be so difficult not to eat, and illness is the primary cause that will affect the feeding structure of your pet.

Be very much alarmed, especially if other symptoms like fever, fatigue, and nausea are present. It will be prudent if you contact your vet at this point.

Side effects from immunization or medication

There are high chances that either vaccines or medication could take a toll on your cat’s appetite and cause it not to eat. However, such side effects are short-lived, and your pet should resume after recovery.

Lack of flavor

Have you introduced a new food to your cat’s diet, or did you not just prepare its meal in a good way? If yes, then consider it as the cause of your cat losing interest in eating. Cats love tasty food the same way you do, so at this point, don’t blame your cat if it sniffs that treat and goes away,

How can I help my cat to eat?

You can help your cat back on track depending on the cause of loss of appetite. If it is due to medication or immunization, patience is vital. They will stay with the food but eventually eat.

If you feel stress has overtaken them, you can create a peaceful eating environment to assure them that they are safe. 

Create a cognitive effect using the usual bowls to feed them and make sure the environment is free from children or other pets that may scare your cat.

If the above maneuvers fail, be sure to introduce a new diet to them; maybe they are just bored. The next question you ask yourself is how you introduce the new food to the usual diet?

This is the way to go. Serve the new food in small portions for over a week as you gradually increase until they can take in the full measure. You can entice them with small pieces of tuna or chicken that are well prepared, free from small bones, additives, oils, or flavorings that may affect your cat’s health.

If you have exhaustively tried all these options, but your cat still can’t eat and is constantly losing weight, treat it as an emergency and reach out to the vet for a profound check-up.

Is Dehydration an Emergency in Cats?

Yes, it’s a dire emergency. Unlike hepatic lipidosis that can take weeks to develop, dehydration strikes almost immediately if your cat doesn’t take in enough water.

On the contrary, regardless of the intake of plenty of water, if your cat is vomiting and has diarrhea, it may not maintain enough rehydration. At this point, supportive care will be essential, and that when you will need a vet to step in.

If you wait for so long in this case, there is likely to be a poor prognosis, and you may lose your lovely pet.

The Dangers of Sudden Weight Loss in Cats

Are you worried about the weight gain of your cat? If yes, then you should be worried about sudden weight loss too. It could be an indicator of a severe medical issue.

Your cat’s weight loss is in tandem with reduced or no appetite at all regarding the cause and may lead to anorexia.

However, there are medical conditions that can lead to your cat’s weight loss regardless of eating. All the same, you should consider the indulgence of your vet if you notice such changes.

It is also essential to consult your vet, the ideal weight for your pet, to note the differences.

As a pet owner, you must have asked yourself a million and one questions concerning the above subject. We have provided an overview to most of your questions but consider that you need to be up to the task. Make sure you keenly observe your pet for any unusual behavior like refusing to eat.

Establish the cause; if it is within your brackets, make all efforts to sort it ASAP. Nevertheless, don’t get stranded with your pet; your vet could be the best option for any issue that could be puzzling about your cat. Do Not hesitate to seek the vet’s opinion when you hit the rock. Your cat can be your best companion if you take care of it well and create the best environment for you and your pet.