How Long Can A Cat Go Without Eating?

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Food is the fuel that keeps us moving! Though we are different from our feline friends in many ways, we are the same in the sense that we rely on food to survive. Eating a well balanced diet is essential to our cat’s health, but they may still experience a period in which they refuse to eat for a number of possible reasons. 

cat not eating article

So how long can a cat go without eating? In this article we’ll answer this important question, as well as dive into the details surrounding this topic!

 

So how long can a cat go without eating?

A cat can go up to 2 weeks without food if needed, as long as they are still drinking water. Though food is not as essential as water when it comes to their survival, it does not mean that a lack of appetite is anything to play around with! Your cat may be able to go up to 2 weeks without food, but they will likely run into some health complications along the way. 

Cats can certainly be picky when it comes to their food, but any lack of appetite that lasts for more than 24 hours should always be taken seriously. So why might your cat be on a food strike?

Why isn’t your cat eating?

There are multiple reasons as to why your cat may not be eating. Due to so many possibilities being on the table, let’s cover each one to see if it fits your cat. 

They Are Picky Eaters

Have you recently switched your cat’s food and they are now on a food strike? If so, your cat may not like their new diet! Try mixing their new food with their old diet to entice them, or even try switching to another food to see if they are interested. 

They Are Stressed/Anxious

Is your cat in a new situation that may be causing them anxiety? Some cats will refuse food if they are experiencing stress of any kind. If you can pinpoint a major change in your cat’s recent life, this may be the reason behind their loss of interest in food. 

Gastrointestinal Upset

One of the most common reasons behind a cat not eating is due to an upset stomach.Cats can experience GI upset due to a number of reasons, and usually comes along with some other symptoms besides a lack of appetite. Some other symptoms you may see include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and any other change in behavior. 

Other Medical Conditions

Your cat’s appetite is a wonderful way to know if they are feeling their best. Since appetite is one of the first things affected in many medical conditions, you can expect them to shy away from their food if they are experiencing a new or chronic medical condition. Some medical conditions that can impact their appetite include GI upset, kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, bladder complications and UTI’s, upper respiratory infections, dental disease, cancer, and more. 

How To Entice Your Cat To Eat

If your cat stops eating for any reason, there are a few ways you can try to encourage them to eat. Some of these options include:

  • Offering them boiled chicken breast and white rice
  • Add some shredded chicken to their food 
  • Offer them chicken or turkey baby food
  • Offer them a small amount of tuna
  • Pour tuna water on top of their regular diet
  • Try warming their food to increase the scent
  • Give them a buffet of food (multiple options for them to choose from)

cat not eating article

Health Risks Of A Cat Not Eating

Though our cats may be able to go without eating for up to two weeks, it does not mean that this is safe. Your cat’s body depends on food to fuel their body processes, and any prolonged period without food can have a huge impact on their overall health. 

Some possible risks of a cat not eating include:

  • Weight loss
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • GI upset
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Liver complications, especially in overweight cats
  • Dehydration (since cats are usually not drinking enough as well)
  • Heart complications

Due to these possible risks, a lack of appetite in a cat is not something to take lightly. These complications can begin within days of not eating, so it’s important to get to the bottom of this behavior once it starts. 

When should you worry?

So when should you worry when your cat stops eating? Ideally, the 24 hour mark without any food is a sign that your cat needs to see the vet. Though our cats may be picky with their food at times, a healthy cat should not want to go without their food for an entire day. The 24 hour mark is especially true if you have a cat that suffers from any type of medical condition. 

cat not eating article

The sooner you act on your cat’s lack of appetite, the easier it will be to resolve the problem! Even a few days without food can cause a cat to experience serious organ damage, so time is not on your side once your cat decides to refuse their food. 

If you are ever unsure of what to do, just contact your vet as soon as you notice changes in your cat. Your veterinarian can help to guide you toward a solution!

Summary

Our cats can be a bit picky with their food at times, so it’s important to understand the window in which they should be diving into their food again. Be sure to review the tips we’ve mentioned above if your cat stops eating, and your cat will be on the way to having a full appetite again in no time!

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