How Long Can a Cat Go Without Eating?

Once your furry pet enters your world, it is difficult to imagine your life without its presence. So, if your cat has been sick or, for some reason, it doesn’t behave as it would normally do, you might have a few concerns.

The thing is that, usually, a sudden loss of appetite is a bad sign. Just as in the case of humans, when one no longer eats, this points out that there is a health problem. This is naturally applicable to cats as well – at least in most scenarios. However, even if you might be worried about it, you should take the time to do some research beforehand, to know all the facts. This is precisely what we plan on doing in this article: shed some light on this topic. So, keep on reading and find out how long a cat can go without eating!

Possible Reasons Why Your Cat Stops Eating

To start with, there are a few reasons why your cat might refuse to eat. And these are not all linked to illness. Let’s have a look at some of the most common reasons and causes, shall we?

  • The Cat Simply Doesn’t Want to Eat

The Cat Simply Doesn’t Want to EatWhile this might not be the most common reason, it is still worth noting. For one thing, many pet owners have the tendency to be overprotective. On that account, they might have this inclination to overfeed their pets. Another bad habit is providing food and water round-the-clock to the pet.

Moreover, if you have the habit of rewarding your cat with food on a regular basis, then this might make it hesitant to accept the food. This may be simply because it doesn’t want to eat. Your cat might be full due to all the treats you’re giving it.

Concurrently, something else you should carry in mind is that cats aren’t avid water drinkers. Hence, if your furry pet passes the water bowl several times a day, this shouldn’t concern you too much, unless you notice that your cat doesn’t drink any water whatsoever.

  • The Variety of Choices Is Limited

It’s no secret that cats are pets with personalities. This is, supposedly, what you love most about your cat, isn’t it? To that end, your cat’s refusal to eat might be due to a lack of variety in meals, or due to the fact that the water is stale. Your cat’s unwillingness to drink stale water might point out that you should give it fresh water and fresh food.

Perhaps you should come up with different food options. That isn’t to say that you must offer your cat a wide selection of meals so that it can make its pick. This is far from being the most efficient way of convincing a cat. You can, however, try out different types of foods – soft foods, hard foods, so on and so forth. Granted that you don’t notice any other worrisome symptoms to concern you, your cat might be acting up just because that’s its nature.

  • Disease or Illness

This is, without a doubt, the thing you’re dreading the most when you’re noticing that your pet isn’t acting normally. And unfortunately, when your cat refuses to eat, you will imminently be overwhelmed with concern. You should be worried if your cat continues to refuse any type of food – fresh, hard, soft or anything in between – as well as treats or even water.

You should always monitor your cat’s behavior and determine the way in which it changes by the day. This is even more important in the case of senior cats. When a cat refuses to eat due to a disease, the odds are that other symptoms will most likely emerge. Remember also that senior cats should be fed cat food for older cats.

Dehydration is, evidently, a critical concern, and it happens in the case of long-term refusal to eat. For example, your cat won’t suffer from dehydration if it only skipped two meals.

What to Do If Your Cat Stops Eating?

What to Do If Your Cat Stops EatingAs soon as you notice that your cat stops eating, you should ask yourself: how long should I wait until taking it to the vet? Even if a cat can stay without eating for a couple of days, you should take it to the vet if things don’t seem to improve at all after trying various feeding techniques. So, if your cat does not eat anything for longer than 24 hours, take it to the vet immediately. In case it eats, but much less than usual and if things don’t improve in a week’s time, again, make sure you schedule an appointment to the vet.

That’s because, usually, if your cat isn’t eating, this might be a sign that there is a deeper, more serious health issue. It can be related to dental or mental health, which means that a medical investigation is in order. For instance, if your cat is losing teeth you should definitely look into it. With that in mind, the first thing the vet will do is try to rehydrate the cat’s body. This can be done by attaching a fluid drip. After that, he will perform a thorough examination. This implies checking the health status of your beloved pet – for example, does it have any injuries that are causing this unusual behavior?

After the examination, the vet will recommend appropriate treatment, so that your cat can get better.

But when does anorexia really get dangerous? When this condition is combined with dehydration, then the situation might be even more severe. Just as in the case of humans, a cat can go without food for a while, but it cannot go without water. Thus, if your cat isn’t eating, you should, at least, make sure that it drinks enough water. Also, here are a couple of things you can do at home, before taking your pet to the vet.

  • Should You Switch to Your Cat’s Previous Meals?

If you notice that your cat has stopped eating because you’ve switched its meals, then perhaps it might be a good idea to reinstate your cat’s previous routine. The same applies if you’ve changed the food brand or the type of food. Return to the old brand or type and see how it goes.

Concurrently, a can of tuna might do the trick for some cats. There is also a popular option that most pet owners turn to – namely giving cats tuna water. Most cats like it, and it is both nourishing and hydrating.

The thing is that cats tend to be quite pretentious when it comes to eating – this doesn’t come off as a surprise. So, try different strategies before getting too worried about this.

  • Offer Your Cat Fresh and Appealing Food

If your cat has anorexia or is recovering from anorexia, then you should focus on making the food as appealing and fresh as possible. You shouldn’t expect your pet to eat stale food or food that doesn’t seem “attractive”. Cats are picky felines after all. Also, pay attention to keeping the eating space organized and neat.

In addition to this, your cat might find warm meals more appealing. You might consider microwaving your cat’s food for a few seconds so that it will be more willing to eat. Also, if this doesn’t seem to work either, consider giving it more high-quality cat food.

  • Feed Your Cat By Hand

Considering that your cat is feeling unwell, then it might be more tempted to eat if you offer it its favorite food directly. You can either give it fresh or dry food. Try this technique because many cats might be more willing to eat in this case. In order to encourage it to eat, you should place some food in its mouth. However, don’t do that forcefully or aggressively. You will only scare your cat and it certainly won’t want to eat after that.

What Can I Do to Get a Cat to Eat?

What Can I Do to Get a Cat to EatThis is something that each concerned pet parent will ask himself/herself. Truly: can you do something to fool your cat or not? We all know that cats aren’t the types of pets you can basically convince to do what you want them to.

Still, if you’re concerned that your cat hasn’t eaten or drunk anything in a while, you can try to fill a syringe with wet cat food and some water and feed your pet. In order for this approach to be successful, you should get your cat in a comfy position. Afterward, you should start feeding it as you pet it. This way you give your furry companion a feeling of reassurance throughout the entire process.

As a rule of thumb, a syringe feeding should entail small amounts of food only, never full meals. Ensuring that your cat eats several times a day is the most effective tactic. If your cat is feeling weak, this won’t place any pressure.

But the thing is that the success rate of this approach will depend on your cat’s state of wellbeing. However, this technique can be really helpful if there’s no vet clinic available right away and you must ensure that your cat has eaten/drunk something. Plus, even if filling a syringe with wet food is highly recommended, you can also do the same with plain water, as dehydration in cats is a serious issue.

Dangers of Sudden Weight Loss in Cats

Extreme dehydration is linked with sudden weight loss in cats. This is why you should monitor your cat’s weight closely. Specialists estimate that a cat might survive without food for up to two weeks and without water for approximately 72 hours.

At the same time, when sudden weight loss is clearly observable, then the odds are that you are dealing with a problem that you should address as soon as possible. For example, if your cat’s refusal to eat and drink is accompanied by vomiting, you might be dealing with a medical issue. Of course, there is an exception. The vomiting that occurs due to hairballs, which is normally associated with a virus, a bacterial infection, etc.

Chronic vomiting in cats will also lead to sudden weight loss. Therefore, if your cat vomits a few times a day, then you should act immediately. Getting emergency medical assistance is mandatory as we’ve outlined beforehand. Specialists actually outline that chronic vomiting is a serious issue and pet owners shouldn’t dismiss it.

If a cat is anorectic for a few days, then we might be talking about life-threatening problems. Even if your cat is only partially anorectic over the course of a couple of weeks, you shouldn’t dismiss this either. The consequences of a poor appetite are serious, particularly in the case of overweight and senior cats.

When an obese cat doesn’t get an adequate number of calories, it will automatically start to mobilize its fat stores for energy. Due to this, the liver will become infiltrated with fat. This condition is known as hepatic lipidosis, which could result in liver failure. So, since the liver is no longer capable of eliminating the excess of fatty deposits, liver failure will settle in.

At the same time, you probably know by now that cats are carnivores. This isn’t the case with dogs or humans, for instance. This is why it is fundamental to ensure that your cat gets its necessary protein intake, for its overall health and wellbeing. Otherwise, depletion of protein intake will further aggravate the hepatic lipidosis. There is another condition – namely diabetes mellitus – that makes cats drink more fluids than usual. This habit will create a false assumption of wellbeing.

Can a Cat Starve Itself to Death?

Can a Cat Starve Itself to DeathStarvation isn’t a common occurrence in the case of cats, granted that they are in a loving household. At the same time, you should know that a cat is physically capable of surviving more without food than they could survive without water.

On the other hand, you should know that, if your cat refuses to eat and drink for more than one week, then long-term physical damage is likely to happen. At this stage, your cat might starve itself to death. Did you know that your cat’s body is 75 percent water? Regardless of this, your cat still gets a percentage of liquid from the food it ingests. This is primarily why many cats would much rather eat their food than drink water. A readily available solution to this would be offering your furry companion wet food.

At the same time, if you have a senior cat, then there are other risks worth noting. For instance, does it have a pre-existing condition? Does your cat suffer from diabetes or kidney disease? You should know that these conditions increase the likelihood of dehydration.

Water Is More Important Than Food

While we’re not saying that it is ok for your cat not to eat, one thing is for sure – dehydration is the one thing that leads to the worst possible scenarios.

Essentially, a cat needs to drink between 5-10 ounces of fluid per day. Nevertheless, this will also depend on other factors. Examples are the age of the cat, the level of activity, its diet, standing health status, so on and so forth. In case your cat suffers from an illness, without water, its health condition will deteriorate at a fast pace. So, if anything, make sure your cat gets water, even if it refuses eating.

In case your cat is ill, but it still gets the water it needs, the likelihood of getting better is significant. At the same time, dehydration is associated with urinary conditions, which tend to be quite common in cats. There are other, even more severe conditions, such as a ruptured bladder, kidney stones, tumors, urethral blockage, and the list goes on. The urethral blockage is specifically a life-threatening condition, being a concern for male cats, in particular.

My Cat Has Always Been Picky: What Can I Do in This Respect?

My Cat Has Always Been Picky What Can I Do in This RespectWe’ve already said that if your cat refuses to eat, this doesn’t necessarily mean it is suffering from a serious illness. While we love cats, we cannot overlook the fact that they can be a bit finicky. So, if you notice that your cat is no longer interested in food, but you’re not seeing any other possible signs of illness, you should try some of our tips.

Try to diversify your cat’s meals. The same goes for snacks. Refrain from making a type of meal constant. It will most likely lead to getting your cat bored of it.

Cats like drinking fresh water. They are also attracted to things that move. Taking these into consideration, you might consider investing in a flowing fountain. It might trigger your cat’s interest in drinking more water throughout the day. Make a priority out of changing the water often, so that it is fresh and appealing to your furry companion.

Another common issue experienced by cat owners is that they notice their cat is hungry, but, nonetheless, it will not eat. In this case, you should pay attention to other small details. For example, have a look at the food bowl – does it smell? Is it anything unusual about it?

Don’t underestimate the importance of the surroundings in which you feed your cat. Perhaps the room has a different smell, which could make your cat refrain from eating. For instance, a new plastic bowl might come with an off-putting smell that might play a part in this respect.

Take the time to analyze your cat’s behavior. As soon as you notice that it acts hungry, you can try to feed it in a new location. In a different environment, you will have the chance to evaluate the situation from a different perspective. If regardless of the circumstances or environment, your cat still refuses to eat, then the odds are that you are dealing with something more serious.

However, another type of sickness that is specifically more common in older cats is painful gums. You should know that painful gums are associated with the difficulty of chewing. This is why your cat’s lack of desire to eat. Ultimately, its refusal to do so might have to do with this. As you can see, there are many types of illnesses – some more serious than others.

There is another scenario worthy of your attention, though. For instance, you might notice that there is no apparent reason that can explain your cat’s unwillingness to eat and drink, regardless of the changes you are trying out. What are your options in this case? In this situation, you might actually be dealing with a case of idiopathic lipidosis. This can result due to an unexpected change in the environment.

Here is an example: this might happen if you moved from a city to another within a certain period, and your pet didn’t get the chance to get accustomed to the new environment.

Concurrently, something as simple and plain as switching a piece of furniture from a place to another might throw your cat off. That’s primarily because cats have a high degree of sensitivity towards such things. This explains why they find it so difficult to adjust to changes and disruptions that could appear in their daily routines.

Without a doubt, being a cat owner isn’t easy, but it comes with many rewards – that’s why you are willing to do anything in your power so that your furry companion is healthy!

Final Thoughts

To sum up, we hope that our article has answered most of the questions you had in mind, particularly how long a cat can go without eating. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to stay informed, so that you know what to do when certain circumstances arise, such as your cat’s refusal to eat. While this may be a sign of serious concern, it is not always the case, which is why you should take the time to analyze your cat’s behavior in detail, to observe other symptoms, so on and so forth.

At the same time, as you know by now that each cat has a specific, individualistic personality. This is why you should apply this knowledge to your cat’s behavior and habits. When you know your cat, you can distinguish between a serious issue/illness and something less serious. However, if you suspect that something isn’t as it should be, then you must be proactive and deal with it right away. Also, a specialist’s assistance is critical in such a situation.

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