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The cat’s love for food is not a secret; neither is the complex personality of this cute animal. Cats have complicated personalities, which is quite well-known to people who have been keeping cats for a long time. If you have had a cat for a few months, you might not be surprised at the unexpected behavioral changes. A new owner might need some time to get used to it.

“How long can my cat go without eating or drinking?” – If you are asking this question, you are not being a bad cat owner.

Cats are predators in the wild and have evolved to survive weeks without food. But keeping your cat hungry for a long time can put a negative effect on its health. It’s hard to estimate, how long a particular cat can go without eating or drinking because every cat is unique. However, in most cases, an average healthy cat can go as long as fifteen days without food and three days without water.

How long can your cat survive without food and water?

Domestic cats are different from those living in wild areas. The cats living in wild environments master the skill of catching prey, whereas the domestic cats are routine of being fed in their bowls every day. This makes the wild area cats self-sufficient and fitter for survival as they can hunt for animals to fulfill their needs.

A cat can live for 3 to 4 days without water and up to 2 weeks without food.

It does not mean that all the cats can survive up to 2 weeks without food. Several other factors affect a cat’s survival without food and water, like

  • Physical ability (older cats cannot survive as long as young ones)
  • Age (little kittens would not be able to survive a long time without food)
  • Medical condition (A sick cat would be near death early than a healthy one)

What Happens If the Cat Stays Hungry For Long?

Usually, the cat’s detest for food does not go unnoticed. But in some scenarios, the owner might not understand this behavior, and the cat can be deprived of nutrients. Several physical and chemical changes take place in the body in such conditions and can prove fatal.

1. Malnutrition

The lack of nutrients in the body makes it lose its shape, and the cats start to seem malnutrition as well. It occurs as a result of rapid weight loss by consuming the stored food in the body. Malnutrition will lead to further worsening health conditions if the cat does not get food and water in time. Some of the symptoms of malnutrition include

  • Lack of grooming
  • Lethargy
  • Muscular weakness
  • Reduced response
  • Dry skin
  • Swollen gums

2. Organ failure

The bodies of animals, such as cats, are not built in a way to provide stored food for them for a long time. They can barely get energy from the stored fats for a few days, and their health would begin to deteriorate. When your cat doesn’t get food for some days, the digestive system halts its function and goes to a fight or flight mode, followed by the failure of the brain and heart.

3. Kidney failure

If your cat does not have enough water for a day or two, survival will get difficult for him. Usually, in 3 to 4 days, the kidneys fail to perform owing to complete dehydration of the body.

4. Heart failure

The lack of water in a cat’s body also affects his heart worse. Dehydration leads to increased heartbeats, and old cats would struggle to maintain their heart health. If the cat is already sick and diseased, this risk should never be left unchecked.

5. Hepatic Lipidosis

Hepatic lipidosis refers to the deposition of fats on the liver. Hepatic lipidosis occurs when there is no food in the body to be detoxified, and the fats start to build up in the liver cells. The cat’s body is not accustomed to this process and struggles to fight it. The body’s mechanism against this fat is expressed through its symptoms, which are a sign of a deteriorating condition.

Symptoms of Hepatic Lipidosis include

  • Lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Constipation/ diarrhea
  • Jaundice
  • Vomiting

Excessive Vomiting leading to dehydration (fluid loss)

Gagging is a normal part of a cat’s daily life, sometimes followed by vomiting. This happens if the cat has ingested a foreign object and fear swallowing it. The cats throw out the object along with other components. Once in a blue moon, this is acceptable, but if your cat is showing frequent vomiting or experiencing diarrhea for a long time, it’s time to visit the vet.

What Happens If the Cat Doesn’t Drink Any Water?

If your cat is not drinking any water or hasn’t drunk within the past two days, you should seek immediate help. Dehydration can increase the chances of heart failure and permanent damage to organs. If the window goes beyond three days, your cat can die or go into a coma.

Cats can go without food and water for 24 hours without any problems but it is recommended to avoid such situations. Kittens and older cats can not fast for very long and need to be fed within a few hours from the last meal.

Why is My Cat Not Eating food?

Cats do not usually keep away from food for a long time as they love to be fed at their time. Cats are friendly creatures who like to be petted, which is another reason for this behavior to be strange. There can be several reasons for a cat to refuse food for a long time. If your cat refuses food for more than 24 hours, try to change what you are offering him. If that doesn’t work out, take your cat to the vet for ruling out any sickness.

Common reasons why your cat might refuse food include

1. Food flavor

For how long have you been feeding the same food to your cats? Ask you this question when your cat stops eating and wonder if you could eat the same food every day!

Cats might enjoy a particular food sometimes, and later it might become monotonous to them. On the other hand, the opposite food-related reason could be the change in the flavor of the particular product. A few times, the manufacturers make small changes in the production without any specific detailing about it. You might not know about it by looking at the box, but your cat can detect the difference in taste and detest it.

2. Expired or spoiled food

Not every day, but another possibility is that you gave spoiled food to your cat. Cats are quite specific about the food they eat and can identify minor changes in the taste, texture, or odor of their meal. If your cat refuses food repeatedly, you might want to look at the box to make sure that you are not providing expired food to your cat.

3. Dental issues

If there are no issues with the looks, odor, or taste of the meal, the problem might not be the food, instead of the cat. Cats cannot speak English or any other human language; thus, they cannot express their pain in words. Yet, if your cat is screaming or making sounds when eating, it can be a sign of distress and discomfort. Cats sometimes can fracture their teeth, form a dental abscess, or get inflamed gums. The painful gums and teeth can cause eating problems for your cat.

However, it is not very simple to understand this issue, and the vet might have to sedate the cat to get to the root of the problem.

4. GI disorders

Either your cat is having dental issues, suffering from an infection, or digestive disorders, eating becomes difficult for him. You can get an idea about this problem if your cat is experiencing repeated vomiting, diarrhea, and pain in the abdomen. This can result from parasites in the gastrointestinal Tract, irritable bowel syndrome, or acid reflux. Knowing about the symptoms can be helpful, yet you must take the cat to a vet for a proper examination.

5. After illness and vaccinations

The vaccination of cats has been said to have mild reactions associated with it. It might include fever, lethargy, or decreased appetite. So if you have just gotten your cat vaccinated, you should try to feed him with love and affection. The symptoms of reaction would go away themselves in a few days, and proper nutritional supply for the cat must be ensured.

What to do if your cat doesn’t eat?

As there are various reasons for a cat to omit eating, a bunch of solutions to the problems also exist. Firstly, you have to identify the reason for the cat’s behavior to act accordingly. The given solutions to your cat’s eating problems work the best only if you know the reason behind them.

  • If your cat rejects food and you have not seen him do that before, change the food you are offering. The food might not be tasting right to the cat, and a different meal would solve it.
  • Reheating the canned food is a renowned trick for making cats have their meal as the smell is stronger than unheated food.
  • Try another way of giving water when your furball refuses water. A pet fountain can be a good idea to provide some change to your baby cat.
  • Add flavor to the water by boiling it for a while with any food item. It can help to attract your pet.
  • Stand near your cat while you give him food. This provides comfort to the cats, and they eat better.
  • Cats love to be pet. Instead of placing food near your cat, offer food yourself, and try to feed them.


As a cat owner, you must be well aware of the cat’s fondness for food. Cats love to eat and drink in their bowl when they are given favorite foods. Sometimes, they also want their pet parents to be near them while they eat, as the cats believe them to be their protectors.

If you are not able to feed your cat in time, you can get some automatic cat feeders and set up a schedule.

However, if your cat stays hungry for a couple of days or longer and refuses to take his regular meal without any reason, it can potentially lead to serious health issues. In this case, take him to the vet as soon as possible.

Cats do not starve themselves to death!

To avoid dehydration and organ damages, check if your cat drinks enough water, and don’t forget to fill his bowl with fresh water regularly.

Take care of your feline’s diet and pay attention to its health condition to avoid unpleasant consequences!

Treat your fur babies with care, empathy, and affection to give them a healthy and happy life.

Happy Cat Parenting!

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