Cats

How long can cats go without food?

how long can cats go without food
© Photo by Piotr Musioł on Unsplash

It is known that cats can go several days without eating. Although it is not ideal, cats also have a great survival instinct that they can develop in the wild, allowing them to live without food.

However, it depends on the age, breed, and habitat conditions where the feline thrives. So what happens when they are under our roof? What about kittens that have always lived in the care of humans? Can you get sick if you go a long time without eating something?

We solve these doubts below with the most relevant information compiled for you.

How many days can your cat go without eating?

The answer is blunt: A feline can go up to a maximum of 3 weeks without eating food.

A healthy adult cat can endure that long without showing any symptoms of malnutrition disease. And it is that cats are experts in hiding their weaknesses. For them, survival is fundamental and instinctive.

However, the ability of cats to live without food for long periods can vary, and the cat’s body may begin to fail as soon as it has gone a week without ingesting anything.

For example, lactating kittens cannot go all that time without eating. Otherwise, they would die in a couple of days -and even in a matter of hours- so it all depends on various factors.

Here are some aspects that affect the ability of cats to endure without eating:

  • Age is important since, if they are very young, they should not spend more than three hours alone, and if they are very old either, they become more dependent on their owners over time.
  • Dry food contributes to the length of time they can go without eating food, contrary to the wet one, since they devour it instantly and the stools are usually softer.
  • Hot weather often contributes to faster dehydration
  • The origin makes stray cats go without food longer than domestic cats since they live in a more hostile environment.

The same is true of water. Like humans, cats can endure more days without eating than without drinking. It only takes a couple of days for them to die dehydrated.

In just 48 hours without drinking water, the consequences become serious. The lack of water is so dangerous that even when a cat feeds, it can become ill if it does not drink enough fluids.

If you notice that your cat has been without fluids for more than 24 hours, offer him water.

What happens in the body of a cat that does not eat?

As with any animal, a cat’s body suffers serious consequences if deprived of food for an extended period.

Because the feline diet is protein-based, the first thing your body loses is fat and muscle, so lethargy and low weight are the main consequences of anorexia. Then the liver will start to fail, and liver failure will appear.

If the feline was overweight, liver lipidosis might occur due to lack of food when this change has been abrupt. This disease refers to an accumulation of fat around the liver that prevents its proper functioning.

What do I do if my cat doesn’t want to eat?

A cat that does not eat is indeed a sick cat. Generally, in sick cats, the lack of appetite is accompanied by vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy or abdominal bloating.

If this happens, do not hesitate to go to the vet, as it is very likely that your pet has a problem that a specialist should treat.

On the other hand, cats are very emotionally sensitive animals. A physical ailment does not usually cause a lack of appetite, but psychological illnesses affect them as much or more.

If your cat is healthy and does not have any physical condition but does not eat, think about whether it has recently changed home, if a new member of the family has arrived or if there have been alterations in the routine of the house.

Now, if anorexia has already appeared, you must act. Your role will be to immediately take him to the doctor to have him fed through a tube.

It may require hospitalization until stabilized. As we discussed earlier, the vet will try to detect the cause of the lack of appetite.

If the problem is in the digestive tract, it is expected that the cat does not want to eat. The same is true if the problem is related to the mouth or teeth.

Perhaps the rejection is due to a change in diet. In short, the causes are multiple, and you should find out as soon as possible.

If the vet diagnoses that anorexia is due to an emotional factor, you should implement changes in the routine to adapt it to the feline and thus improve their living conditions.

On the other hand, if the lack of appetite is because after a change in diet it turns out that you do not like the new food, you should incorporate small amounts of the fresh food into the old food and gradually increase it. Thus you will be camouflaging the flavor until you get used to it.

How do I feed a cat that does not want to eat?

Feeding a cat who does not want to eat a bite is highly complex. You will have to arm yourself with patience and try following some tricks to help you.

If the lack of appetite is due to a change in diet, a trick is to offer your cat dishes with many hot flavors. These dishes give off more smell and are more appetizing.

If the problem is in the digestive or dental tract, you should take care of your cat’s diet. Starting with porridge or pate is fine. In the same vein, if the diet must be liquid, you will have to rely on a syringe to introduce the food directly into the mouth.

After the evaluation, the most effective solution will be given to you by your vet.

Final advice

  • Pay attention to changes in your cat’s behavior.
  • If more than three days of loss of appetite have passed, the cat will begin to lose muscle mass and lose weight rapidly, so don’t let time pass.
  • If you are feeding him with a syringe, do not forget that you must do it very slowly through the side of the mouth. This way, you will avoid vomiting it.
  • Keep a source of fresh, clean water near your cat to invite it to drink.
  • Remember that any fast must be authorized and supervised by a veterinarian. These practices can be very dangerous if taken lightly.
  • Add water to canned food, so you hydrate it as you feed it.
  • Change the bowls where you put the food. You may dislike something and show it by refusing food.
  • If he dislikes the new menu, put some wet food on his nose or paw to encourage him to clean up. That way, you will accept it more quickly since you will recognize its flavor.
  • If the cat is convalescing, give him homemade broths, so you will hydrate him at the same time as you feed him.
  • Do not add salt, sugar or any other seasoning to porridge, pate or homemade food, and you could be making it sick without realizing it.
  • Last but not least, maintain a close relationship with your veterinarian, and if you have any questions, go to him for advice.
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