How Long Can Cats Go Without Food?

How long can cats go without food? This is a question that most people wish to know since cats are believed to be lost returning home after weeks, or even months, having seemingly survived on their own the entire time.

Most of the time, cats stop eating food and turn their noses up at their usual pet food, refusing to eat it at all. It is worrisome for the owner and makes them wonder how long their cat can survive without food.

Let’s get into the what and whys.

How Long Can Cats Go Without Food

How Long Can Cats Go Without Food?

You’ll be surprised to know that the average cat can survive for up to one to two weeks without proper food, given they have a good water supply. However, it is necessary to have protein because, without it, they will only survive up to a maximum of three to four days, even if they have a good water supply.

It is essential to highlight that cats who don’t consume food for as little as two days can become malnourished and may require proper veterinary care. It is vital for cats to have good food and water supply.

While many domestic cats are able to fend for themselves and catch their own food, such as mice, birds, squirrels, and other small animals, not all cats have the skill to find their own food. The thing with local cats is that they get used to being fed at certain times and if this doesn’t continue, they may not find an alternative food source.

Reasons Why Your Cat Has Stopped Eating

There are many reasons as to why your cat can stop eating their usual food. Some of the main ones are:


Usually, cats stop eating food when they are unwell. If your cat seems pale and is constantly vomiting, tired or is having a fever on and off, then it is best to seek your veterinary help immediately.

Dental Problems

One of the main reasons why cats stop eating immediately is due to the fact that they develop dental problems such as sore teeth or inflamed gums. It is painful to eat in this situation. If you notice that your cat is hesitant to eat their food or is chewing from only one side of their mouth and won’t let you touch their head or mouth, then know that they might need a dental check-up.

Stomach Problems

It might be that your cat has eaten something that has caused their stomach to be upset and because of this, they might not want to eat for a while until they get better. You can further be positive that it’s some sort of indigestion if they are vomiting or having diarrhea. If this goes on for more than a day, then you must take them to the vet immediately.


If you’ve recently gotten your cat vaccinated or if your cat is on medication for any reason, chances are they can lose their appetite. Always check medication for side effects before giving it to your cat.


If you’ve recently shifted, had a baby, changed your cats’ routine, they might get affected by these situations, and it will cause them to lose their appetite.

Consequences: When Cats Don’t Eat

A cat that goes about three days or more without eating will soon begin to utilize fat reserves for energy just as how a human does. A cat’s body is designed primarily to utilize protein for energy.

Cats are obligate carnivores—meaning, they are true carnivores and depend upon the nutrients present in animal flesh for their dietary needs. Cats need meat in their diets to survive. If cats don’t consume meat for a few days, they begin to use their fat reserves and this can end up putting pressure on the liver. A few more days of not eating food and their organs could be compromised since cats don’t have a liver that is made to support their bodies for living off it for a long time.

In worst-case scenarios, cats can die without proper food intake and water supply.

Feeding Your Cat

What time and how often you feed your cat matters because once you set a pattern for your cat then it will become very hard for them to adjust to something else.

Free Feeding A Cat

Free feeding will allow you to give your cat small meals throughout the day. But be sure not to spoil them and encourage their overeating. Remember that this type of eating will not allow you to observe the changes in the eating habits of your cat.

Scheduled Or Meal Feeding A Cat

These are the best type of feedings. You start these when your cat is young. Feeding your cat can allow you to monitor how much your pet is eating.

Combination Feeding A Cat

There is always an option of giving your cat a combination feeding. You can give your cat canned food, wet food, or dry food. It is important for flexibility.

Regardless of which feeding method you choose, it is essential to set up a proper feeding routine and a place for your cat to eat in peace.

Our Final Thoughts

If your cat has stopped eating entirely and you’ve ruled out underlying conditions or stress, you may need to contact the vet immediately before the situation gets out of hand.

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