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How Long Can Cats Go Without Food?

by Guest Contributor
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Cats are sturdy, persistent creatures, and it is not uncommon to hear stories of cats that were reported missing and returning after being gone for several days or weeks. These characteristics unquestionably aid them in surviving on their own. 

Alternately, some cats might decide to reject their regular cat food unexpectedly and refuse to eat. A cat would typically just quit eating if it did not like the food. 

Other instances could comprise appetite loss, a fundamental issue that remains to be addressed. In either case, they might still appear to be in excellent condition.

Therefore, you might be curious about how long a cat can survive without food. Today’s post discusses cats surviving without food and cases where this behavior is normal and abnormal. 

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The Average Fasting Span of a Cat

If there is access to water, an average cat can go without eating for one to two weeks. However, if the protein intake is diminished, the survival span reduces to three to four days. So on average, a cat cannot survive without food or water for more than three days. 

It is imperative to highlight that a cat might become underweight and even require emergency veterinary care if it goes without food for even two days. All cats need a steady drinking water supply and nourishment for optimal health.

Do not anticipate that cats can always hunt for food if required. Even though many house cats can chase down mice and squirrels, it is not a characteristic all cats possess. Domestic cats frequently grow accustomed to receiving their meals at specific intervals, so they might not look for other food sources if this does not happen.

If a cat does not eat, its organs might shut down immediately. A cat’s liver cannot run solely on preserved nutrients like human beings and dogs. 

These facts are just provided to address the “What ifs” regarding how long can cats go without food that is constantly circling our minds. We must frequently feed our cats as responsible pet owners.

Apart from this, there could be other reasons your cat is not eating. Oftentimes it can be challenging to comprehend your cat’s actions. However, if your cat has just stopped eating unexpectedly, you should first suspect a medical condition.

Why does a Cat Stop Eating? 

If you regularly fill your cat’s bowl with food and find that it no longer gobbles it down at a breakneck speed but only sniffs, it may be time to look into why. Your cat could have an underlying condition and is not just avoiding food because it does not like it. 

Listed below are some case scenarios where a cat may suddenly stop eating. If you observe any of the conditions mentioned below in your cat, seek veterinary help as soon as possible. 

  • A Disease

Cats can generally quit consuming when sick. Consult a vet immediately if your cat appears off-color, is throwing up, is lethargic, or has a fever.

  • Dental Issues 

Chewing can be uncomfortable if the cat has a sore tooth or irritated gums. Your cat may require a dental examination if it appears hesitant to feed, chews with one side, or will not let you touch its face or mouth.

  • Medicines 

Cats may have appetite loss after medicine or immunizations. If your cat has received drugs, ensure the vet is aware of any side effects.

  • Stress 

Moving homes, bringing new family members into the home, or altering routines are stressful life events. Such events might make cats stop eating for some time. However, if the behavior continues for an unhealthy period, it is time to consult your vet. 

  • Boredom 

Cats can be picky eaters, so occasionally, your cat might decide it no longer prefers a certain type of food. Additionally, a cat’s occasional refusal of a meal or two for no apparent reason is typical behavior.

Bottom Line 

You have to be patient if your cat loses appetite due to causes other than health issues. Let cats enjoy the meal at their own pace, then praise them when they finish. 

Make your cat’s dining area calm if you think they are stressed.  If you have checked out major medical issues and depression, your cat could only require a diet adjustment to get them to start consuming again.

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