How Long Can A Cat Survive Without Food?

A tabby cat eating a bowl of wet food from a purple bowl

I began to wonder how long a cat can survive without food at the same time I started to research How Long Can A Cat Survive Without Water. This article is for all curious cat parents who’s mind race with random cat questions.

How long can a cat survive without food? A cat that has access to water can live without food for at least fourteen days. If both food and water are not available, a cat cannot live for more than 4-5 days.

As we all know, cats are obligate carnivores, so they prefer meaty treats over any other food. A recent study on cats tastes buds suggests that the most extreme adaptations to carnivory discovered to data lie in the facial nerve’s taste buds, which are highly responsive to amino acids and unresponsive to many mono- and disaccharides.

How Important Is Food To Cats?

Food and water are two things, without which no living animal can survive. Without water, an animal can die in three days. If there is enough water but no food, the cat can walk longer, but it all depends on its health and environmental condition.

Cats are survival experts because of their autonomy and flexibility, but there is a limit to food. A cat’s body is entirely active, with about 10 per cent daily food intake. This means you should not let the cat face starvation.

As a pet owner, it ensures that there is plenty of food available at all times. While loving your cat, make sure you have easy access to food in adverse conditions.

A homeless cat will inevitably experience occasional periods where there is a shortage of food. Cats can be lost when they are looking for food. The most affected cats are domesticated breeds that may not have the skills needed to find food.

When you do not feed your cat at the expected time, your cat may be hungry, wander around for food, and get lost. So, take care of that and be a responsible pet owner.

Now, if there is plenty of food, how long a cat can survive without food varies depending on breed, environment, and food availability.

How Long Can A Healthy Cat Live Without Food?

Like you and me, when we face hunger, our bodies use energy to keep their body parts active.

Hepatic lipidosis is a disorder that forces the liver to pack fat proteins and supply them to the bloodstream for energy. Liver Lipidosis takes place when your cat is not deficient in food to give much-needed protein.

Hepatic lipidosis can be dangerous if fat accumulates in the liver and disrupts normal liver function. When that happens, it’s life-threatening with irreversible damage.

grey british shorthair cat with yellow eyes sitting at a table with a silver bowl in front of him

Symptoms Of Hepatic Lipidosis In Cats:

  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration

Types of Hepatic Lipidosis In Cats:

Idiopathic HL:

A change in the diet generally instigates idiopathic HL, a close companion’s death, and a new animal’s transfer. Feines are easily affected by changes in their surroundings.

Secondary HL:

This can happen long before the onset of a health condition such as pancreatitis, gastrointestinal disease, cholangitis, hepatitis, or diabetes. All of these health problems can cause anorexia, which can lead to secondary HL.


The persistence of your pet depends on many things. The original question of how long can a cat survive without food depends on these factors, which are given below:

  • Health
  • Age
  • Access to water
  • Current weight

Why Does My Cat Not Eat Food?

The cats have an innate skill towards hiding any disease, and the underlying disease progresses significantly as long as a pet’s parents observe a problem. A significant red flag is a change in appetite. There are many reasons why cats may have partial or complete anorexia.

Medical issues such as kidney disease, viral infections (COVID-19, etc.), cancer, dental disease, pancreatitis, urinary tract disease, and arthritis can prevent a cat from eating.

In addition to health problems, a cat’s mental health can also play a role in changing a cat’s appetite. Zoonotic salmonellosis can also affect the cat’s feed intake. Steps such as stress, the addition of a new baby or pet, or climate change can affect a cat’s appetite.

Because changes in appetite often do not appear until the last stage of the disease, pet parents need to adjust their cat’s appetite and seek medical attention at the first sign of a problem.

Factors For Why Cats Do Not Eat Food:


Loss of appetite is unique of the key indicators that something is wrong. So, if your cat suddenly stops eating, be sure to pay attention. Numerous different conditions can be responsible, including infection, kidney failure, pancreatitis, bowel problems, and cancer. But it’s not always serious – something as simple as a toothache can stop your cat from eating.

Recent vaccinations:

Did you notice a decrease in your cat’s appetite immediately after taking it to the doctor for routine drops? If so, there may be an adverse reaction to these shots because your cat will not eat. Although vaccines are life-saving for millions of animals, in some, they have side effects. Loss of appetite is usually temporary and mild among the more common of these side effects.

Travelling stress and unfamiliar environments:

Like many people, many cats are individuals of habit. Therefore, a change in routine can lead to a decrease in appetite. Additionally, some animals experience motion sickness while travelling by car or plane, leading to food nausea and rejection.

Finickiness or mental problems:

If your veterinarian has resolute that your cat is not physically ill, then anxiety or depression cannot cause your cat to eat. Changes in the home can upset sensitive cats, and sometimes changes in new people or regular schedules can affect a cat’s emotional well-being. Or, your cat may be a fat eater. Remember that cats usually take a long time to adjust to a new type of food, so a recent change in diet can be a culprit.

Lack of food causes:

There is no universal or universal timetable when it comes to cat food. When food does not enter the system, they can experience the same physical and mental changes.

Lack of proper nutrition encourages the use of body fat to find liveliness. The liver is the only organ that aids in processing body fat into your energy reserves. So when the liver fails to get enough protein, it stops working correctly. It causes liver damage.

Malnutrition has the potential to cause damage to such organs. And your cat’s life is in grave danger. This process takes several days. But on average, cats can survive for 1-2 weeks without food. However, it depends on the amount of water and overall health.

ginger cat eating a plate of food

Malnutrition Symptoms In Cats Consist Of:

  • Organ failure
  • Poor coordination
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Flatulence
  • Diarrhoea
  • Caved in nails
  • Failing eyesight
  • Swelling of gums
  • Impaired immune response
  • Fatigue
  • Muscular weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Death

These symptoms do not appear immediately. As long as cats are receiving adequate amounts of water daily, they should recover. Older cats, kittens, or cats that already have a disease or illness will not be able to walk without food.

Just keep in mind that agitated cats and kittens burn/consume energy faster than their lazy cousins. So you can’t expect to live long without food and water. Lack of it immediately worsens the current state of health, which is why they are suffering.

What To Do If Your Cat Refuses To Eat

If your pet is not eating as much as required, do not dismiss it immediately. It may be the main reason. So it is best to see your veterinarian as soon as possible. In the meantime, let’s fix the problem.

As long as the cat is not eating, you can try something new. Like this favourite treat, or you can reheat canned food. Changes in the cup of Food; Maybe a new one.


Cats that do not eat at all or do not eat for a long time can lose weight significantly, and this in itself can be a cause for concern. Even if cats gain weight, if they lose weight too quickly, it can be dangerous, so please check your cat to see if it is likely to lose weight. The easiest way to tell? Please lift your cat once a day to assess its regular importance. If you have lost weight, your cat will be lighter (and possibly thinner).

Another test? Touch or rub your cat’s spine to feel how different the bones feel under the fat layer. If your cat feels too thin, this could be a problem, so make a mistake and see your doctor.

People make fun of cats and their weird eating habits, but if your cat doesn’t eat, it’s a severe problem. A refusal to eat is all about pets, but it can be more dangerous for cats.

When animals do not eat enough, they must rely on their fat assets for energy. With rapid weight loss in cats that stop eating, the protein supply is rapidly exhausted, and the liver is overwhelmed with all the fat. Cat’s loss of appetite is often a sign of illness, so refer your veterinarian as soon as you sign a change in your cat’s eating behaviours.

tabby cat crouching in front of two silver bowls. He is looking straight at the camera

Symptoms And Reasons For Your Cat Not Eating:

If your cat is ill, you will need to take a hands-on method to inspire cats’ eating. Do not merely unqualify down food and hope for the best. A sick cat is doubtful to eat of its agreement.

Inappetence is a generic symptom. Look out for these indicators, which may shed more light on your cat’s health concerns:

Pawing at or swelling around the face:

Dental pain

Sneezing and streaming eyes or nose:

Respiratory tract infection

Chewing food then spitting it out:

Sore throat

Hiding and reluctance to engage:

Arthritis pain or stress

Rash and hives on the skin:

Serious allergic reaction

Vomiting and swollen abdomen:

Gastritis or intestinal blockage

Scientists recently find out that Corona Virus may be another problem that also lead to off feeding in cats along with other respiratory symptoms.

A recent study also suggests that with many people out of work and without a steady income, you may be struggling to feed your cats in COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, there are nationwide and statewide pet food banks that can serve you during these trying times.

What Occurs When a Cat Does Not Eat?

These are the following symptoms that occur when your cat did not eat as required

  • Muscular weakness
  • Lack of grooming
  • Lethargy
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Swollen gums
  • Loss of coordination
  • Poor eyesight

How Long Can Cats Be Stuck In A Tree Without Access To Food?

There is a lot of news about cats trapped in trees for a long time, all of which comes from the other end of the ordeal and tells a story.

Articles like these don’t look unique or surprising. Cats certainly survive easily for a day or two without food, or at least without access to most of it.

Cats trapped in trees may have grazed on small insects such as aphids, flies, and beetles, or even ants, which hang in the trees.

They can also catch birds, but we doubt that a typical cat can do that while living in a tree. What we don’t understand is that many birds hang in a tree with a cat in it. Except, of course, a bird landed on a branch without seeing the cat. Then, once they discovered the cat’s existence, we are sure it would be much easier to fly than it would be for a cat to catch its prey.

How Long Can Cats Survive Without Food Conclusion:

Cats may live 1-2 weeks without food. It also depends upon the water availability with food. If water is available, then your cat takes more time to dehydrate or deteriorate. If both food and water are not available, your cat can’t live more than 4-5 days.

Responsible pet parents must take care of all the feeding needs and requirements of felines. Also, it is unethical and not suitable for cats’ health to let him/her starve. Starvation leads to many diseases and potent health conditions, including hepatic lipidosis and weight loss, which can be fatal and lead to cats’ death.


Rochelle is a self-claimed crazy cat lady and proud cat mum to Owlie! She has owned, rescued, and fostered cats throughout her whole life. Rochelle created Cats On My Mind as a hub for likeminded cat parents to get all the information they will ever need to give their fur babies their best life!

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