How Long Can Cats Go Without Food? The Truth Behind The Behavior

It is every child’s dream to have a pet, a best friend that is all theirs. In fact, even adults want a pet for the same reason. My dream had become a reality when I got a pet kitten. It was such an exciting time in the household. You want to spend every second that you are awake with your pet. When you get your first pet, you feel lost a lot as you don’t know what their behavior indicates. For me personally, I got very scared when my pet cat stopped eating. If I had known how long can cats go without food or other basic information related to the topic then I wouldn’t have worried so much.



Reasons for The Improper Diet of Felines

how long can cats go without food

A feline is a very complex being and there can be a variety of reasons why a feline refuses to eat:

  • There is a chance that she is suffering from an illness. It can also because of toothache or an injury. Only a veterinarian can tell you the real reason for why a cat refuses to eat food. It can also be because of feline depression or diabetes.
  • Another reason for an improper diet of felines can be that he or she is bored with the regular diet that has been fed to him or her and is craving for new flavors.
  • Kidney failure can also be one of the causes. During the initial stages, your feline can experience weight loss but as the problem increases, your pussy friend starts showing up the symptoms like excessive fatigue, inability to move because of sickness, which further leads to lack of interest in consuming food.
  • One of the major reasons that lead to loss of appetite in felines is Hepatic Lipidosis. Therefore, it is not advisable for you to treat the problem of loss of appetite in felines on your own rather it is recommended for you to take your pet to the vet so that he or she can diagnose the actual reason behind the loss of cat appetite.


How Long Can Cats Go Without Food?

cat not eating

If your pet suddenly stops eating then it is understandable that you would get worried. It is not normal for anyone to stop consuming food. Cats get most of their water needs from the food that they eat and the rest of it comes from drinking water. If your cat has stopped eating but continues to drink water, they will survive for two weeks. But, if they have stopped consuming water as well then it can prove to be fatal as they will not be able to make it past a few days.

Their body needs water to function properly. If they starve themselves it might lead to problems in the kidney. When your cat stops consuming water, the dehydrated organs start stealing water and energy from other organs. The first organs to shut down are the kidneys and the stomach.

Another thing that you should not forget is that if your four-legged friend does not eat for 2 days, then he or she can experience the dreadful and unusual infestation of pests for their remaining life. If your feline refuses to drink or eat anything at all for more than 36 hours, then you should take her to the veterinarian immediately.

how long can cats go without food

If a cat does not eat or drink anything at all for a few days, then his or her internal organs can get damaged. Minerals and nutrients are essential for the proper functioning of the body, therefore if a kitten does not eat food, then he or she would gradually lose the energy and nutrients that are required by the body. Once they have eaten, they can easily return to its original.

If your pussy friend does not drink water, then the organs, which are dehydrated, will begin to take energy and water from the rest of the organs. The organs which quickly get affected by lack of appetite are stomach and kidneys. The final two organs, which get affected by it are the brain and the heart. Irrecoverable damage can be caused to such organs of your feline friend if he or she refuses to eat or drink.


What to Do If Your Cat Does Not Eat?

how long can cats go without food

You have to try and feed your cat at any cost so their health doesn’t deteriorate any further. Try to give them treats or encourage them to drink water.

If you are able to feed them wet food then it would really help the organs gain back some energy and avoid dehydration. If they don’t want to drink plain water then try to give them tuna water.

There are also lickable food options available. It also has some nutrients and minerals that would help avoid dehydration. In case they still refuse to consume anything, it is best to take them to a vet before it gets too late.

Tuna Fintastic Stew

Lickable Cat Treat

The best thing that you can do is to feed water to your cat at regular intervals by using a dropper. If she has not eaten anything in the past two days, then you should take her to the veterinarian as soon as possible. If your vet is not available at the end of the week, then you should try contacting them and take an advice from him or her regarding what is to be done in such a case.


Hepatic Lipidosis

Hepatic Lipidosis also comes to mind when your feline refuses to eat. It is also known as the fatty liver disease. This condition is caused because of the fat that builds up in the tissues and the cells of the liver. This could lead to biliary tract dysfunction and even organ break down.

This is the normal response of an animal’s body to starvation. You might have noticed that animal’s that are starving are very thin. This is because the organs start fighting and leeching each other for energy. If your pet cat goes a long duration without eating anything then the central nervous system will move its focus to the fat cells to provide them with energy.

This further leads to liver dysfunction and gives a sick feeling to your feline, because of which she refuses to eat and hence the situation gets even worse. If this health issue is not treated in time, then there is a possibility that it can lead to the death of the cat.

Mentioned-below is some of the symptoms of hepatic lipidosis apart from improper diet:

  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Hiding inside the closet and other unusual places

There are essentially two types of HL:

Idiopathic HL: This problem generally occurs because of change of diet, passing away of a close companion, or due to moving in of a new animal. Felines easily get affected by the changes taking place in their surroundings.

Secondary HL: This may happen due to the preexistence of a health condition like pancreatitis, gastrointestinal disease, cholangiohepatitis, or diabetes. All these health issues can cause anorexia, which can further cause HL.


How Long Can A Cat Survive Without Eating If She Has The Problem of HL?

Hepatic Lipidosis is a common type of liver disease that happens to felines. It happens when fat accumulates inside the liver’s tissues and cells. Fatter felines are said to suffer quicker and more than normal cats because larger cats have more fat deposits. A cat can go anywhere from 2 to 10 days before the disease becomes fatal.

This does not mean that every overweight or obese cat will develop HL if they starve themselves, neither does it mean that a normal-weighing cat cannot develop this disease. It just means that overweight or obese cats are more prone to it. If your cat has been diagnosed with Hepatic Lipidosis then you will most probably need to feed her through a feeding pipe. Watch this video to have a better idea on how to feed your cat.

If your veterinarian surmises that your feline is suffering from HL, then he will check the number of liver enzymes increased in the body as it is a way to confirm that your feline is suffering from this health issue. For this purpose, he can use ultrasound imaging or radiographs. Nevertheless, liver biopsy is the best method to diagnose HL.


How to Avoid Hepatic Lipidosis When The Diet of Cats Is Changed

This problem is often witnessed when you switch the food that you offer to your cat from dry to wet. In order to ignore the risk of HL, you need to ensure that your feline is hungry but not starving like crazy. You should give her only ¼ of the calories to be consumed by the feline until he or she fully adapt the new foods.


You should try mixing both old and new foods and then you should gradually increase the quantity of the new food. In the beginning, your feline will prefer to eat old food part and will leave the new foods. Later, your cat will begin to eat new foods as well. By doing so, there is a minimal chance that your feline’s health will be damaged.



Dehydration is one of the concerns when your feline refuses to eat as cats get most of the water content from the food they eat, particularly from wet food. These are two ways through which you can find out that your cat is dehydrated.

Scruff test: Pull the skin of your cat’s back and observe how much time it takes in returning back to its original position. A healthy feline will quickly snap back whereas if a cat is dehydrated, then skin elasticity will be reduced.

Gum test: Place your finger on the gums of your feline. When you will take out your finger, you will observe a white spot on the place where you placed your finger. If your feline is healthy, then it will take only two seconds and the spot will become pink once again but it will take more time if a cat is dehydrated.

Try to give your pets their favorite treats or tuna based water so some nutrients and minerals go into their body. You can also try out giving water to your cat by pouring water in a bowl or through the water fountain. If your pet stops consuming water as well then should rush them to a vet as they might be suffering from Hepatic Lipidosis.

how long can cats go without food

Top 3 Best Cat Fountains

Below is the comparison table of top 3 best cat fountains which help you make the best choice for your felines quickly:


How To Make Your Cat Eat Food?

If your cat is refusing to eat then you might want to try some tips and tricks before you rush your pet to the vet.

  • The best way to treat anorexia is orexigenic. This type of treatment is given irrespective of the cause of anorexia.
  • Most cats like canned food, you might want to try and see if your pet likes a different flavor. Try heating the food slightly before you give it to the cat.
  • If you feed new foods to your cat and she refuses to eat it, then you should feed her the food that she previously used to eat.
  • If your feline does not eat the dry food that you have been feeding her for a while, then it may be because the food has started to rot, therefore it should be replaced as early as possible.
  • Changing the dry treats to a different shape and size might also just do the trick.
  • If your cat is not drinking water as well then try to give them some tuna based water. It will also provide them with the necessary nutrients.
  • Feeding tubes is another way to treat anorexia, which is the potential cause of HL. This method of treatment is also used for treating other anorexia cases.
  • Moreover, the cat feeder can be used for giving a regular diet to your feline.

Top 3 Best Cat Feeders

Below, you'll find the comparison table of top 3 best automatic cat feeders which gives you the best choice for your cats easily and quickly:

You might have to force feed your cat so they have some necessary nutrition in their system. Observe all other mood and behavior changes that you notice in your cat. If there are any other symptoms accompanying the cat’s starvation then it is best to take them to a vet as soon as possible so that you can know for sure if all is right with your feline.


Our pets are our best friends and we would do anything for them. It is better to be informed about topics like how long can a cat go without food so we know what to do in case it happens to our pets. If you liked this article, make sure to share it with other cat owners. Let us know if you have any feedback for us in the comment section below.

Luna Tran

My name is Luna and I am a great cat lover and a cat owner of three lovely cats. I have owned many cats till now and have dedicated many years to nurturing and caring cats. Through this blog, I am here to share my knowledge and experience about cats.

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