How long can cats go without food? There are, in fact, a great number of reasons why a cat owner could ask this question – maybe the cat is unwell and refusing to eat, or is just acting out of character. Even though she physically looks okay, something is amiss – she is refusing to eat, and you simply don’t know why. And how long will she be able to go like that? Let’s take a look…

How long?

Every pet (every animal, for that matter) needs proper nutrition to function and to stay alive and healthy. This means that your cat needs to eat regularly, and the same goes for drinking. One thing that’s important to emphasize here is the fact that the cat will get most of the water that she needs from the food – if she’s not eating the food that you’re giving her, she’s probably eating somewhere else.

To answer the question from the title, an average cat can live up to 2 weeks without food, as long as she’s drinking water. Without water, she won’t be able to survive for more than a few days – that’s the horrible truth. If you notice that your cat isn’t eating or drinking, you will have to immediately take her to the veterinarian for a check-up.

cat looking at salmon

A significant difference between a cat that’s not eating and the cat that’s not drinking water is the damage that happens to the cat’s internal organs – the animal that hasn’t been eating for days will slowly lose the energy, but will also immediately regain the strength once it eats. On the other hand, an animal that hasn’t been drinking water for days will not only lose its strength but also suffer some pretty severe internal organ damage, since water is essential for the proper function of all organs in the body. The dehydration can seriously injure the liver, kidneys, and some other organs, which means that the extended periods of time without water will cause these organs to fail, and that leads to death.

The lack of water will first cause the cat’s stomach to shut down, and then the kidneys, the liver, and, in the end, the heart. If your pet isn’t eating or drinking, the damage caused to these organs could be irreparable.

What to do?

Well, the first thing to do in case your pet is refusing to eat or drink is to take him to the veterinarian, who will treat this situation as an emergency and will attach a fluid drip and then try to rehydrate the body of your cat. After that, he’ll check if your pet has any injuries, and if it doesn’t, he’ll probably recommend admitting the cat so that she can receive proper treatment.

In case a veterinarian isn’t available, you’ll have to find some way to feed the cat and make sure that she’s drinking water. You’ll probably have to resort to your cat’s favorite food, which probably won’t be as nutrient as the cat-specific food you’ve been giving to her, but it should help to keep her hydrated until she becomes healthy once again. You can also try giving her some tuna water, which has proven as a good way to rehydrate a cat which refuses to eat food

The reason behind it

As you already know, the cat is a very complex animal and there are a lot of possible causes for the cat’s refusal to eat. One reason could be a health problem – your cat might be sick or hurt, having some injury, a case of indigestion, or even diabetes. If your cat has no appetite, you could, for example, try switching to another brand of food – there are a lot of different products on the market. This will probably include some trial and error, as it can take quite some time for the cat to get acquainted with the new food. Your cat could also suffer some stomach related issues, if so we recommend you try cat food for sensitive stomach.

Conclusion

If you notice that your cat is refusing to eat or drink, you should definitely take her to your local veterinarian. This is a serious issue and not something that should be looked over – and we’re pretty sure that you want to keep your beloved pet as healthy and happy as possible.