How Long Can Cats Go Without Food? All You Need To Know

Cats can survive for up to two weeks without food providing they have access to water.

However, without access to protein, they can die within three or four days even if they are hydrated.

This is because their livers are not made to support their bodies for long living off their bodies energy stores alone.

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If your cat hasn’t eaten for days we recommend you speak with a vet ASAP to help you work out what’s going on and what needs to be done. JustAnswer allows you to talk in real-time to veterinary experts for a small fee.

Aside from answering how long cats can go without eating in more detail, this article also explains why your cat might not like eating and ways you can encourage him to eat more.

Help – My cat isn’t eating

You’re probably wondering why your cat won’t eat.

You may have noticed that your cat winces in pain when he eats, or only eats a bit before giving up, or worse – he doesn’t eat at all and seems disinterested in food.

Besides being sick, there are other possible underlying factors explaining why your cat won’t eat. Apart from that, your cat just might not be hungry.

If your cat hasn’t eaten for over two days, then that is a cause for alarm.

It’s best to know how long your pet can go without eating before he begins to shut down and it’s too late to take him to a vet!

How long can cats go without food?

On average, your cat can survive for one to two weeks without food.

However, if they do survive that long they are likely to be seriously ill and in need of immediate veterinary attention.


Cats organs shut down very quickly if they don’t eat.

Unlike dogs and humans, their livers are not made to support their bodies for long living off their bodies energy stores alone.

In some cases cats can die in three or four days without any protein intake, even if they are hydrated.

There are very harmful consequences the longer your cat doesn’t eat.

Organ failure

Your body survives on the nutrients you ingest in both water and food.

Once your cat stops eating, his organs slowly begin to deteriorate. A cat’s digestive system shuts down first, then the brain, and lastly the heart, which lasts the longest.

Hepatic lipidosis

Hepatic lipidosis is a grave illness of the liver that happens in cats because of starvation.

Its primary cause is either your cat refusing to eat or due to a disease.

Kidney failure

Your cat’s kidneys will fail once he is completely dehydrated.

This needs immediate treatment if your pet is to survive.

Why won’t my cat eat?

There are certain reasons why your cat won’t eat, and it isn’t only because he could be sick! Just like humans, cats make choices when it comes to eating. Here are some causes as to why your cat suddenly seems disinterested in mealtimes:


Can I give Paracetamol to cats?

The most likely reason why your cat doesn’t want to eat is that she’s suffering from an illness that makes it too painful to eat.

This is a major health problem that needs to be solved immediately, especially if you notice other symptoms such as fever, nausea or fatigue.

Lack of flavour

Your cat may be disinterested in her food either because she’s become bored with it or because there’s no flavour in her new food. Yes, just like humans, cats don’t like eating food that doesn’t taste good!

Pain when eating

If you feed your cat dry food, consider whether he may have problems with his teeth. It is possible that he is either growing old, or has sensitive teeth that cause him pain when he chews his food.

Dry Food May Be The Reason Why Your Cat Refuses To Eat

Dry food may be the reason why your cat refuses to eat

Side effects from medicine or vaccination

If your cat has just been vaccinated or he’s taking medicine, then there is a chance that lack of appetite is causing his disinterest in food.


Did you introduce a new pet or human into the house? Or are you travelling with your cat?

Sometimes the stress of change may be too much for your cat causing him to not feel like eating.

How can I get my cat to eat more?

tabby cat eating from a food bowl

If your cat isn’t eating, here are some ways to remedy it:

Slowly incorporate food

If he’s recovering from a sickness or is currently taking medication, allow him to eat his food slowly.

Feed him by hand and praise him when he eats.

Change food

Try wet cat food so he feels more comfortable while eating. Or, try to add more flavour to his typical cat food by adding pet gravy.

You can also add a small amount of chicken or tuna, however be careful with feeding your cat tuna as while cats can eat tuna eating too much of it can can cause other issues.

If you are having trouble finding healthy wet food for your cat Wellness Signature Selects Natural Canned Grain Free Wet Cat Food (below) might be a good choice.

Wellness Signature Selects Natural Canned Grain Free...
  • GRAIN FREE: grain free, complete and balanced everyday nutrition for your cat.
  • QUALITY INGREDIENTS: Hand-packed delicate flakes of protein from real tuna & wild salmon in a delicious sauce.
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  • EASY TO SERVE: Custom-design, upside-down can and easy-open lid make mealtime quick and easy.
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When feeding your cat, do it in a quiet, private area where he can eat in peace. Allow him to eat his food slowly without forcing him, like dribbling a bit of food into his mouth or using a syringe.

When to seek medical help

If your cat still refuses to eat even after several days of starvation, then you’ll need to get him checked out by a vet as your pet may have a more complicated problem or illness.

In conclusion

What if you left your cat alone for a few days and forgot to feed him? While it’s worrying to leave him abandoned like that, there are situations where it may happen.

Not only that, but there are also times when your cat won’t eat for a few days due to a stomach bug or sickness, which is why it’s good to know how long he can survive without eating food.

This way you know when to take him to a vet if things get worse!


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