Written By : M Samy

How Long Can Cats Go Without Eating?

While a healthy adult cat can go without food for more than two weeks, puppies should be fed every day.

How long can cats live without eating according to science?

According to scientists, a healthy adult cat can live up to 3 weeks without eating. However, after 3 weeks, the cat may get in serious health problems

Let me tell you first how to feed your cat if you plan to leave him alone at home and then explain the reasons why a cat may refuse to eat if that’s what you are looking for!

How long can a cat go without food and water?

How to feed your cat while you’re away?

If you don’t have anyone to come over and feed your cat while you’re away, the best thing to do is to fill his bowl with dry food and his water bowl with fresh water.

Your cat will just eat until it is full and you should leave enough kibble for your cat.

You can also use an automatic cat feeder, such as the Whisker Feeder-Robot, which you can program to feed your cat while you are away.

Pet sitters can also come to your home and feed your cat and why not brushing her teeth after that ! , this is the best option when you are going to be away for several days.

What are the risks of leaving a cat without food for a long time?

There is no risk if you leave your cat without food all day long, but you should not do it too often and it should have access to the usual place where it does its business.

But cats left without food for a long period (it depends on their condition and age) are at risk of contracting Hepatic Lipidosis, a fatal liver disease.

Many organs will begin to fail if the cat is not fed or continues to refuse food, and cats can quickly experience sudden and rapid weight loss, which can lead to a number of subsequent complications.

A healthy adult cat with access to water can survive up to two weeks without food, but the effects of starvation will begin to appear in just two to three days and the cat’s condition will begin to become critical more quickly thereafter.

A cat left without water will suffer from dehydration within 24 hours and may succumb to thirst within two to three days.

How to get your cat to eat ?

If your cat is refusing to eat, it’s important to find the cause and try to get her to accept some food. Here are some tips to help your cat get back to eating:

1- A thirsty cat will refuse to eat, especially if its diet is mainly composed of dry food, so give your cat to drink and leave the water bowl well filled with a fresh one and available to your cat.

2- Your cat may not want to eat his usual food anymore, so try to offer him the food he likes the most or try to change his food and give him something new or go from dry food to wet food for example, but you have to go gradually.

You can also add a topper to his kibble to make it more appealing and encourage him to start feeding again.

3- If your cat is refusing to eat, it may be because he is not getting enough exercise. Try playing with your cat, take him outside and give him some exercise, this may encourage him to eat.

If you try all of this and your cat still refuses to eat, I recommend that you take him to the veterinarian, he may be sick and it is better to treat him than to force him to eat, which may make him worse, because most animals stop eating when they are sick because the young accelerate the healing.

Is there a risk of leaving food for my cat while I am away?

Some cats have a bad habit of continuing to eat as long as there is food in their bowls and not stopping when they are no longer hungry. This is called grazing, which is the first consequence of free feeding cats, giving them access to food all day every day.

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If your cat has this bad habit, you risk making him sick or just obese by giving him free food for several days while you are away.

Grazing often leads to urinary problems in cats, kidney problems, and even behavioral problems in cats, all of which will decrease your cat’s life expectancy and general health.

How often should a normal cat eat? 

On average, cats take 10 to 16 small food intakes per 24 hours. 

According to the AAFCO, cat food is divided into 3 categories: Growth food for kittens, adult cat food, and senior cat food. Each age category requires a specific diet.

However, there is not a specific food intake, it depends on the breed, gender, and age..,  but they should be fed regularly and make a program to settle their lifestyle. 

How much food and water should I leave for my cat while I’m away?

An adult cat will need between 200 and 300 calories per day which corresponds to 1/2 cup of high-quality dry food per day, so you will do your math and leave the food in different ceramic bowls preferably (so that your cat can not reverse them because of boredom for example! ), placed where your cat could reach them easily.

As for the amount of water, you’ll just fill enough bowls as you can and leave them out for your cat. Adult cats can drink anywhere from 200 ml to 300 ml per day, depending on the temperature of your home and their diet.

Get a professional cat sitter to feed your cat when you’re away

Some cats are very sociable and need to be in contact with humans, otherwise, they tend to adopt a destructive behavior and start to make a mess in the house, which may hurt them of course, and just leaving them food when you’re away will not be enough, your cat may even refuse to feed itself.

In this case, you can get a professional cat sitter to come to your house at least at noon and feed your cat and play with it for a while, and this will only cost you between $18 and $25 ( for 30 minutes ).

How long can a cat go without drinking? 

A cat can go 3 to 4 days without drinking. After 24 hours without drinking a cat can become dehydrated, and after 4 days he can die of thirst. 

Cats don’t require much water, their thirst index is much lower than that of dogs and humans, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to leave them without water for a week. 

To maintain your cat’s overall health, especially kidney health, leave a jar of clean water available all day. Change the water every 2 to 3 hours as it should be clean and germ-free. 

How long can a cat go without eating protein?

Proteins are absolutely essential for cats, and all humans, because they contribute to cell renewal, body tissue formation, and structure.  

Taurine: When talking about proteins and cats, we must always include taurine, an amino acid (protein) that is very important for your cat’s kidney and heart health. 

Taurine can be found in : 

Poultry, beef, pork, tuna, seafood, shellfish, fish.

How long can a cat go without eating carbs?

Carbs are not essential for cats’ health. They can live on a very low-carb diet, but it’s important to know that a carbohydrate-free diet is not possible with an industrial diet like some canned foods that usually include grains such as wheat, corn, oats, or rice. 

The only thing that carbohydrates will do is help maintain energy for daily activity, and most cats are lazy. 

How long can a kitten go without drinking milk? 

Milk is very suitable for a kitten’s digestive system, that’s why it’s the first cat food. Before weaning (before 8 weeks), milk is essential to your kitty.

 It provides all the essential elements for its health, lipids, proteins, lactic ferments (for the digestive and thus neurological health), and carbohydrates. 

It is a liquid diet that is very easy and adequate for the immature gut of a small Cat. From the 8th week, it is good to give him milk every now and then but it is not as necessary because his body is ready to receive a solid diet. 

Is it okay for a cat to drink without eating for weeks?

A healthy adult cat cannot live for more than 4 weeks by drinking water alone. As I said above, a cat’s body needs to renew itself from time to time. Once the cells have died, a protein-rich diet is essential to keep the cells renewed and healthy. 

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To keep your cat healthy, it needs a diet rich in protein. In most cases, water contains mineral salts, which is good but ineffective. 

On the other hand, the cat can live on a sufficient diet without drinking water for about 8 weeks.

A liquid or semi-liquid (wet) food will allow him to hydrate a little. A well-balanced diet will meet all its needs. But water is essential if not your cat will die of constipation and its complications. 

Why doesn’t my cat eat? 

If a cat does not eat, it means that there is a pathological or psychological health problem. Cats suffer a lot from appetite problems, it can be a sign of a disease or an infection. 

It can be related to a psychological factor, a radical change in its environment, like :

1- After moving, a cat can lose its appetite

Cats are routine lovers, they often prefer to meet the same people, have the same eating and sleeping area, the same house, and especially the same owner. 

After a move, the cat can feel very disturbed and stressed which will cause a hormonal imbalance and therefore a lack of appetite. 

2- New cat in the apartment 

When there is a new cat at home, the cat will feel neglected, especially in possessive breeds such as Siamese, and Turkish van. So it may refuse to eat for a short time to get more attention. 

3- The need for mating 

Cats that are not spayed or neutered and live without a partner may feel uncomfortable after an excitation because they are unable to fulfill their mating needs, whether it is a female or a male cat, and they may have a lack of appetite for several weeks. 

In this case, you should spay or neuter your cat or let your cat do all its business. 

4- Changing his diet

If you switch from industrial food to home-cooked food, your cat may not like the new texture or taste. Industrial food is always improved especially the pate.

It takes time for your cat to get used to the new food, it usually takes about 15 days. To avoid this, do not change his diet drastically, go gradually to a new meal twice a week. 

What diseases cause a lack of appetite in cats?

When a cat refuses to eat for more than two days, this may be a sign that he or she is probably sick. Here are some reasons why a cat may lose interest in food:

1- Anemia

Anemia, due to iron deficiency, can lead to a loss of appetite. Iron is an essential element in the regulation of metabolism, which is why your cat seems to lose its appetite. 

2- Thyroid

A thyroid gland is a gland that secretes hormones and a problem in your cat’s thyroid will cause a hormonal imbalance such as the satiety hormone. 

This will lead to a lack of appetite , so cats with thyroid disease should as soon as possible be seen by a veterinarian regularly.

3- Lack of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a metabolism hormone intermediate. Therefore it is involved in metabolism and hormone regulation. A lack of vitamin D can be the reason for your cat’s lack of appetite. 

A diet rich in Vitamin D or Vitamin D supplementation without sun exposure is not effective. So to fix the vitamin D, the sun is important. 

Food rich in vitamin D: Cats’ food is naturally rich in vitamin D: 

Fish such as herring, sardines, mackerel, fresh salmon, cod liver oil, and tuna. 

4- Infection with parasites and fleas

Among the symptoms of a flea infection are diarrhea and lack of appetite, most infections can be transmitted by a lack of appetite. If your cat is throwing up , he may refuse to eat and this could be a sign of illness as well.

5- Mouth ulcers or pain

Toothache, or the appearance of canker sores in your cat’s mouth, will disrupt the feeding of your cat, if you don’t check his mouth you will think he has a lack of appetite but it’s not. 

 You must take care of your cat’s teeth (do not brush them daily), use mouthwash for your cat (prescribed by the veterinarian), and avoid foods that irritate your cat’s stomach because they can cause canker sores:

  • Certain food additives (read the labels or prefer organic foods), 
  • hot pepper,
  •  very cold or very hot foods. 

Does a large cat eat more than the smaller breeds? 

Yes, the caloric needs of cats depend on their energetic expenditure, which is calculated through size, weight, and other parameters. 

Therefore, larger cats such as Maine coons need more than munchkins

The veterinarian will tell you at the beginning what your cat should eat, then you will estimate what a normal meal for your cat looks like. 

Do older cats frequently lose their appetite? 

Yes, when your cat gets older, his body will change and release more of what he takes in. Because of the cells that are used to renew themselves, some will be dead. 

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For this, it is necessary to take care of your senior cats. Offer them a better quality of food with a good smell and texture. Give them their best meals often. 

What happens to your cat’s body if he stays starved for 3 days? 

For a cat that stays without eating for approximatively 2 to 3 days, its body won’t find the right fuel so it will break down the stored fat.

The acids released during the fat breakdown will be stored in the liver. This will cause a loss of appetite after he gets his food back.

In this case, your pet’s body can use the stored fat as a backup when it’s not receiving any food, but once the fat is used up, your cat may die. 

The limited duration of life without feeding in cats is not always 3 weeks at most, it depends on your cat’s health, metabolic rate, age, etc. 

Cats are very stubborn animals when it comes to their meals. They have many appetite problems as they are sensitive animals. 

What can’t a cat resist eating?

There are certain foods that can bring back your cat’s appetite, they should be among cats’ favorite food. The first thing that attracts cats to their food is the smell.

Cats like the smell of the sea, it’s the reason why they love seafood such as fish, especially tuna. 

They also like some kind of wet fruits (which contain a lot of water) like melon, and round fruits like clams, and enjoy with chicken offal. 

What should a cat’s daily menu be? 

Ideally: 50% animal proteins, 20% kinds of cereal, 20% vegetables and fruits, and the rest for oil and vitamin supplements. 

Cats do not have specific menus, they divide their daily meal into several small intakes (up to 20) throughout the 24 hours. According to his appetite and his daily routine. 

His meal must contain essential fatty acids, omega 3,6, animal and vegetable proteins, carbohydrates (low content), vitamins, and dietary fiber for digestive health. 

1- For an adult cat

During the day

Kibbles: They guarantee a balanced diet. In terms of quantity, management is simple, just leave a bowl of kibble permanently at the cat’s disposal. Also, provide a bowl of fresh water.

Home-made meals: Much healthier for the cat, it is recommended to cook the meat little, except the abas, and to add cereals and vegetables.

Cats also eat at night 

At night, cats continue to take small food intakes. It is better to offer them wet food at night, to keep good digestive health as they lie down too much at night when they are alone. 

2- For kittens

Before the 8th week, milk is essential for your kitty and after that , you can start introducing solid foods, and the milk should always remain part of his diet until weaning. 

How should a cat get his usual food back after more than 3 days without eating anything? 

If you have undergone changes in his food, it is better to go back to his usual food, if the change is necessary, take a bit of his favorite food like offal or a piece of meat and mix it with his new meal. 

If not, try to give him a liquid diet or wet food that he can lick easily, because once your cat becomes consciously hungry, he will prefer to eat something easy of course by mixing it with one of his favorite foods.

Be careful with your environment! The area around your puppy also plays an important role, you must give him his meals in his usual place but far from disturbances or new pets or people who are in your home.

Final Thoughts 

Most cats can live up to a max of 3 weeks without eating. Lack of appetite is a common problem in cats and it occurs as a symptom of an emotional disorder or disease.

In this case, it is important to know what foods your cat likes the most to help him recover his appetite.

If your cat refuses to eat for more than a week, taking him to a vet is the first step to avoiding complications that may arise. 

Finally, if you plan to leave your cat home alone, leave enough food and water for your cat, and ensure your cat is safe while you’re away and can’t escape from the house.

M Samy pet blogger and author at famillypet

About Author

Hey! Samy here , Welcome to my Blog I'm an animal lover, especially pets and Really concerned about their well being ; I've been around and caring for all my life and Now ; a full-time Pet blogger at your service . My motto here at Famillypet is: "Pets First" ... Read More