How Long Can A Cat Go Without Eating?

Jane MillerCat NutritionLeave a Comment

How Long Can A Cat Go Without Eating - SweetieKitty

Last updated: January 11, 2020

I remember a friend of mine who recently adopted the prettiest white stray cat I’ve ever seen. She named her Luna. Luna is possibly one of the most spoiled adopted cats ever. My friend even threw her a birthday bash and got her to wear a little pink tutu. It’s no wonder that when my friend and her family had to leave town for a couple of days, my friend had a bit of a panic and left her cat with so much cat food and water to last her a lifetime.

Cats can get quite demanding when it comes to their food and not just with the quality, but also the quantity. For sure, no cat owner would ever want their cat to go hungry either. Even my mom gets really concerned when our cats at home are looking a little bit thinner than usual. She would then proceed with spoiling them with more cat food, and even go for the occasional Fancy Feast wet food on the side.

Hunger Pangs

Although it is quite rare for cats to go without any food, especially in the hands of a loving and caring owner, there can be numerous incidences where cats are left with no food or water to sustain them. It is important for cat owners to be aware of these various incidences, so that they will be able to avoid them from now onwards.

Cats are really choosy when it comes to the food that they eat. Each cat has their own preference. In cartoons, cats are portrayed in such a way that all cats eat fish and drink milk, but it’s not necessarily the same with cats in real life at all. Cats are like babies and will only eat what they want to eat no matter what. It’s not even just a matter of the quality of the food; it is more about what they favor the most.

Once our local pet store did not have the brand of cat food we usually buy for our cats in stock.  This brand of adult cat food also happens to be the most expensive cat food in the market. They liked that brand of cat food so much though, that when we bought them a different brand of cat food they went on a full hunger strike.

If you thought that only humans can go through with something like that, well, believe me, cats can too! It was an intense couple of days at home, for we didn’t want to budge and thought that the cats should at least finish this cat food before we buy them a new one. It would be such a waste if they didn’t.

However, our cats had something else in mind entirely. They sniffed the cat food and walked away and didn’t eat for the next couple of days after that. Finally on the 3rd day of the cat food wars at home, we gave up and bought them their favorite brand of cat food from a faraway pet store.

How Long Can A Cat Go Without Eating - Cat Eating Ham - SweetieKittyDire Situations

Aside from this, there are many other instances where cats are left deprived of food and water. Cats can sometimes go missing overnight or for a few days, or even longer. During that time, it is unsure whether they are able to fend for themselves and get their own food and water. So is the case for cats that get trapped in hard to reach places and even for newborns who are still adjusting to their food.

Some cat owners could also be as reckless as to forget to leave their cat some food and water when they go out for long vacations. This is quite a sticky situation for home cats, as they are often unable to catch their own prey for food or get water from somewhere else.


In such cases, a cat owner must always be prepared for any situation. Although, they can’t really control every circumstance that their cat gets into, they can do something to avoid some of them. The best place to start is to get to know their cat’s preferences when it comes to cat food. This goes very well for those who are adopting cats.

As you very well know by now, when a cat dislikes the food you give them, you really can’t do much about it and just have to get them something that they would like. Some would chuck it up to experience and learn along the way. However, instead of wasting so many bags of expensive cat food, cat owners can do a little cat food tasting beforehand to see which ones their cats love the most.

Of course, another way for cat owners to avoid starving their cats is to always leave them a bowlful or two whenever they leave their cats at home. For longer periods of time, it would be best to have someone they trust to fill their cat’s food and water bowls regularly while they’re away. It will also be a good lookout to give this person specific instructions, so that they are sure to get things right and not waste any food or water or leave the cat starving  and dehydrated.


Back in the wild, mammals such as cats could easily feed themselves without help from humans, however, today, most cats are domesticated and are fully dependent on humans for food. In the event that they are not able to get any food or water, most cats would only survive after 2 – 3 days. This timeline does vary from cat to cat depending on their current health status.

It also depends largely on the availability of water. Even a healthy cat left with a lot of food with them, but does not have any water, wouldn’t be able to survive a week. However, a cat that does not have any food but does have water with them could survive as long as 2 weeks.   

How Long Can A Cat Go Without Eating - Tired Cat - SweetieKittyConsequences

Just like any living being, cats that starve for a long period of time will go through a lot of changes in their body and in their overall health. As when humans are starved, the fat cells of cats metabolize when they are not eating. However, the lack of protein from the absence of food intake causes fat deposits to clump in the cells and tissues of a cat’s liver. This results to what is called “Hepatic lipidosis” or fatty liver disease, a very serious condition that may eventually lead to a cat’s demise.

Cat owners must also be aware that aside from the environmental incidences that can hinder a cat from eating cat food or drinking water, cats can also lose their appetite for many other reasons. Cats are pretty much like humans in a number of ways, and changes in their food, the household, moving into a new place, and the death of close family and friends can also affect their appetite.

Having a cat for a pet does not merely mean that owners are required to provide them with their basic needs. A cat is a thinking and feeling living being who is also in need of much love and attention. Remember that a cat is connected to their owner not just for their food and water, but they are bonded with one another through their feelings and emotions too.