cat eating from bowl

How Long Can Cats Go Without Food?

Last Updated on July 9, 2023 by admin

Did your cat suddenly stop eating? If you notice your cat acting weird about their food and not eating, here are some things to keep in mind.

While there’s no need to panic immediately, you should pay very close attention.

One of the scariest things a cat owner can experience is a sudden change in behavior. As pet owners we need to pay extra attention to behavioral cues since your pet can’t just tap you on the shoulder and tell you what’s wrong.

In this article we’ll explain what actually happens when cats stop eating, some common causes, and also some things you can do before rushing your cat to the vet.


So How Long Can Your Cat Survive Without Eating?

The expert consensus is that cats can go without food for two weeks (14 days). This is only if the cat has access to water because they can only survive for 3 to 4 days without water. However, cats can end up with severe health issues even after a few days of not eating.

Now just because your cat may survive for 14 days doesn’t mean you should ever just kick back and chill if your cat stops eating. You must also keep in mind that every cat’s body is different. Some things to consider when judging the severity of the condition:

We’ll get into some more details about possible causes to appetite loss as well as some things you can try before running to the vet.

How Long Can House Cats Go Without Food

House cats can generally go up to 48 hours without food before their kidneys start to shut down. However, it is recommended to contact a veterinarian if a cat hasn’t eaten for a day or more, as cats can become emaciated and ill after just two days without food. Elderly cats can survive for about 10 days without food if they have access to water and no serious health conditions.

How Long Can Cats Go Without Eating

Cats can go nearly two weeks without food, but it is crucial to ensure they have access to water. After 48 hours without food, a cat’s kidneys may start to shut down, and after 24 hours, liver problems may arise. If a cat hasn’t eaten in a day or more, it is advisable to contact a veterinarian to determine the cause and address the issue. Elderly cats can survive for about 10 days without food if enough water is available and there are no serious health conditions.

How Many Days Can Cats Go Without Eating

Cats can go without eating for about two weeks.

Should I Be Concerned?

Obviously a day of no appetite alone is not something to declare an emergency. However, you do need to pay close attention.

In reality you don’t want your cat to stop eating for more than a few days because it can lead to many complications down the road. If you don’t want your cat to suffer from permanent health issues it’s important to take early action.

For example, when your cat stops eating that means it will have to break down its fat stores in order produce energy to maintain bodily functions. As the cat’s body breaks down the fat it will enter the bloodstream and eventually be processed by your cat’s liver. As a result there may be some excess build up of fat in the cat’s liver. If your cat is forced to process too much body fat in a short period of time it could trigger fatty liver which will be need to dealt with as a separate medical emergency. Keep in mind that rapid weight loss can also trigger fatty liver so be careful if you ever put your cat on a diet. Be reasonable. Take a slow and steady approach so your cat’s body can handle the change.

What Kind of Issues Can Cause My Cat to Stop Eating?

There are many things that can cause a cat to stop eating. Some are obvious and some not so obvious. It could also be a combination of things that happen at once.

Here are some things to consider when your cat stops eating.

  • Dental issues like tooth pain or gum disease
  • Stomach issues like bugs and infections
  • Medical issues affecting organs like kidney disease, pancreatitis, constipation, blockage of the digestive tract, indigestion
  • Recent medical treatments given like routine shots, medication, or surgery
  • Psychological issues triggerred by stress that cause anxiety or depression
  • Changing their regular cat food or diet
  • Any major environmental changes like moving into a new house, newborn kids, new pets, other cats introduced to the household, etc.
  • Are they eating strange food outside? Are they catching wild prey? Is your neighbor feeding them without your permission?

What Can I Do to Get My Cat to Eat?

There are several things you can try for peace of mind to entice your cat to eat. Here are some quick things you can try to get your cat to start eating again:

Clean or Change the Food Bowl

First try to clean the the food bowl and water bowl. If you have a water fountain try changing the filter and do a thorough cleaning. Cats are creatures of cleanliness. Not only do they like to stay clean but they also expect their eating environment to be clean and free from bad odors. If their food is too close to the litter box you might want to consider moving the litter box far away from their eating space since the litter’s odor could be ruining their appetite.

If that doesn’t get a response you might want to replace the food with a fresh scoop if it sat in their bowl for too long. Another thing that you can try is changing the food bowl to something else. Some cats prefer metal or ceramic. Try changing the dish you put their food in and see if they show interest.

Improve the Eating Environment

Make sure your cat’s eating space is in a nice clean spot that is free from bad smells. Also you want to avoid placing a cat’s eating space where there is a lot of traffic. Most cats need a quiet and relaxing space to eat.

Change the Food or Change it Back

If you recently changed their food you might want to consider putting it back to their old food. It could also be the opposite and they frankly never liked the cat food you gave them to begin with and went on strike. Cats can be very stubborn when it comes to food preference. If you introduced a sudden change in diet you might want to change it back. When changing cat food brands it’s best to do it gradually and have some of their old preference on hand. Unless there are unavoidable reasons to change their cat food like brand discontinuation, doesn’t meet the cat’s medical/nutritional needs, or it’s too expensive you should always stick to your cat’s preference.

If your cat is not interested in their old food you might change brands or even the food type like wet to dry or switch ingredient types, flavors, or brands.

Another strategy is to add toppings to their regular food. Just make sure that it’s cat friendly and approved. Toppings that add extra aroma or flavor work well.

You might also try warming up their food to bring out extra aroma and make the food easier to eat.

Some Takeaways When Your Cat Stops Eating

  • Figure out what is causing your cat not to eat
  • Make sure they are at least drinking water, if not treat it like an emergency and get help fast
  • Observe your cat for signs and hints so you can take proper steps
  • Try various tips and tricks to entice them to eat
  • Fix any external things that may be stressing them out
  • If things don’t turn around after a day, get help from your veterinarian

Just remember when you cat stops eating, do not panic but also do not write it off as your cat acting weird. It could end up being a serious issue. You do not want to have any regrets. Take action as soon as you can and make sure your cat gets back to normal soon.