How Long Can Cats Go Without Food?

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Has your cat not been eating well and you are wondering how long can cats go without food? We have all the answers to your queries. Cats are many times moody animals and can be fussy when it comes to food. It is not a surprise that cats can refuse to eat their regular cat food and become cranky and demanding. Every cat has a different personality and working your way around it can be a task. 

Is it bothering you that your cat will keep refusing to eat and you will have to find ways to make your cat eat for the rest of its life? That is not true and it can be easily managed if you know why your cat hasn’t been eating well or refusing its favourite food. Cats can sometimes avoid food for reasons like being ill, being away from their favourite human, or even a change in the environment. 

Many cat owners are aware of cats running away from home only to return after a few days without much loss of weight making you wonder how long can cats go without food and water. For humans going on for a few hours without food and water is a huge challenge but not for cats. If you are asking yourself, can a cat go 24 hours without food the answer is yes, cats can. It should not be surprising to know as we know cats wander around for a while but return in good health. 

Cats have personalities and individual tastes that can keep them from some healthy food specifically made for cats. Let us see how long can cats go without food and why they do so sometimes. It is not as rare as it may seem, this behavior is commonly seen in cats. But it should not be ignored as it may be a sign of illness. 

cats in basket

How Long Can Cats Go Without Food? 

Like humans, more than food it is water that is essential for any animal. A cat can survive without food for approximately a few weeks, one or two weeks maximum if it has enough water supply. Although cats require a sufficient supply of protein for their survival, if a cat hasn’t had protein it won’t survive more than 3 to 4 days even if the cat has a good supply of water. Wondering how long a cat can go without both food and water? It will probably not survive for more than 3 days. 

Cats need food and water both to survive happily without any health issues. Cats that have had no food for a couple of days are mostly like to fall ill and become malnourished. It might also lead to health issues that require immediate medical assistance. It is important to have food and a freshwater supply to maintain any cat’s health and well-being

Why has my cat stopped eating?

There are multiple reasons why your cat may have stopped eating as they have moods that are difficult to understand and predict. Here are some reasons that may have caused your dog to stop eating. 


Much like humans, when cats are sick they tend to not feel hungry and turn away their noses from food. Any kind of dental issue or an upset stomach can be reason enough to avoid food. If you see any unusual behavior like vomiting, lethargy, the cat being pale, or running a fever take note of it and call for medical help immediately. If you think your cat is sick and wondering how long can sick cats go without food? A sick cat won’t survive for more than a day or two without food. 

Lack of Flavor

Cats can also stop eating a particular type of food because it lacks flavor. Cats are picky eaters and if their food is not flavorsome it will be rejected. It is quite a normal thing for cats to reject food that is not flavorful for them. Try to change their food and see if they still won’t eat it. 

Pain When Eating

Some cats might stop eating if they suffer from pain while eating. Dental issues can cause pain while eating like bleeding or swollen gums. This can deter them from eating food and keep them hungry. If you observe your cat eating from one side of the mouth, not chewing well, or not letting you touch their mouth you should investigate further and seek medical guidance to check for dental health. 

What happens if a cat doesn’t eat?

We already saw how long a cat can go without food but what exactly will happen if a cat doesn’t eat how it is supposed to? Food and water provide important nutrients for cats and a lack of it can create an imbalance and serious health problems. 

Organ Failure

Prolonged starvation will cause a liver condition in cats called Hepatic Lipidosis which if left untreated will lead to organ failure and death. Cats have a delicate system than humans and dogs where their liver is not as strong. 

Hepatic Lipidosis

Hepatic Lipidosis is a liver condition that affects cats because of not eating for a couple of days or not finding enough protein required for their survival. Hepatic Lipidosis can also become fatal if timely treatment is not given to the cat. It is a serious condition that cannot be ignored. Another question that comes up while talking about Hepatic Lipidosis is how long can a cat go without eating before liver damage? It is suggested to not let a cat remain hungry for more than 48 hours if Hepatic Lipidosis is diagnosed which usually leads to liver damage. 

Kidney Failure 

Kidney failure is one of the things that can happen if a cat does not eat or drink water for a long time. Kidney failure leads to other organs not being to perform their functions well; this ultimately leads to all organs failing to function at all. 

How can I get my cat to eat?

You can try many ways to get your cat to eat. If your cat is sick and avoiding food, you should be patient. Give your cat some time to get back to normal. If stress is the reason for not eating, making their eating experience full of peace and comfort. Using familiar bowls seems to work. 

Sometimes fussy cats just need a change of taste, try introducing new flavorful foods in small quantities along with their regular food and see how they react. You can also try giving them tiny bits of tuna or chicken that do not have oil, bones, or any kind of additives that could lead to sickness. 

If your cat is still struggling to eat and you observe any weight loss, you should seek medical help. 


Cats can be picky eaters and sometimes choose hunger over their everyday food. It is not always that there is an underlying problem but it is better to investigate and find out why your car is not eating. By now you know how long cats can go without food and are equipped to handle this situation with your lovely cat. 

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