How Long Can A Cat Go Without Eating Or Drinking Before It Dies?

Cats are the ultimate survivors, with instincts that have evolved over thousands of years to help them adapt and thrive in even the harshest environments. As pet owners, we love our feline friends and want to ensure they stay healthy and happy. But what happens when a cat goes without food or water? How long can they survive before it’s too late?

As obligate carnivores, cats require a high-protein diet to maintain optimal health and longevity. Without these essential nutrients, their physical wellbeing can suffer, leading to chronic diseases that can be life-threatening. In the wild, cats have been known to go without food for up to two weeks. However, domestic cats’ abilities to survive without eating or drinking are much less predictable.

Water is just as crucial for a cat’s survival as food. Even though cats are efficient at conserving water, a lack of it for more than three days can cause severe issues and potentially be fatal. Dehydration is a common problem among cats who don’t drink enough water or consume wet food.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how long a cat can go without food and water before it dies, the signs of dehydration and malnutrition in cats, and what steps you should take if you suspect your furry friend is suffering from either condition. So let’s dive right in and discover everything you need to know about keeping your cat healthy and well-fed.

Factors Affecting How Long a Cat Can Survive Without Food or Water

While cats are known for their independent nature and self-sufficiency, they still need these basic necessities to survive. The length of time a cat can go without food or water depends on several factors that we will explore in this article.

Firstly, age and health significantly affect how long a cat can survive without food or water. Young and healthy cats can last longer without food and water than older or sick felines. For instance, kittens have weaker immune systems and require frequent feeding to maintain their health. On the other hand, older cats may have underlying health conditions that affect their ability to survive without food.

Another factor is size and weight. Larger cats can store more energy reserves than smaller ones, allowing them to survive longer without food. However, this is not always the case as some larger cats may have underlying health issues that affect their ability to survive without food.

The environment in which a cat is kept also affects how long they can survive without food or water. Indoor cats have access to clean water and food regularly, making it easier for them to survive longer without these necessities. In contrast, outdoor cats may struggle to find food and water sources, especially in extreme weather conditions.

Furthermore, activity level plays a crucial role in determining how long a cat can go without food or water. Active cats burn more energy and require more frequent feeding. Sedentary cats may be able to survive longer without food as they do not need as many calories as more active felines.

It’s important to remember that while cats can survive without food and water for some time, it doesn’t mean it’s okay to leave them without these essentials. Dehydration can occur within 24 hours of a cat not drinking water, leading to serious health complications. If you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior or appetite, seek veterinary attention promptly. In some cases, hospitalization and intravenous fluids may be necessary to prevent dehydration and other associated complications.

What Happens When a Cat Does Not Eat or Drink for Too Long?

Firstly, a cat’s body begins to use up its stored energy reserves when they don’t eat or drink for an extended period. Cats have an exceptional metabolism that breaks down body fat and protein to use as energy. Unfortunately, this process can only last for so long before the body starts to deteriorate.

With time, the cat’s body will gradually shut down its non-essential functions, leading to lethargy and weakness. The heart rate and blood pressure decrease, making it challenging for the cat to breathe. This lack of proper hydration can also cause the kidneys to shut down, leading to kidney failure.

If a cat goes without food or water for more than a few days, it can be life-threatening. After three to five days without water, organs in the body can start to shut down, leading to seizures or even a coma. If left untreated, this can lead to death.

In addition to physical symptoms, hunger and thirst can cause stress and anxiety in cats, leading to behavioral changes such as agitation, irritability or even aggression.

As a responsible pet owner, it is crucial to monitor your cat’s food and water intake daily. If you notice any signs of dehydration or a lack of appetite, it’s vital to seek veterinary care immediately. A veterinarian can provide necessary treatment and fluids to help your cat recover from dehydration and avoid any potential life-threatening complications.

Signs of Dehydration in Cats

Dehydration is a serious issue that can lead to severe health complications if left untreated. Whether it’s due to hot weather, vomiting, diarrhea, or kidney disease, recognizing the signs of dehydration in cats is crucial to prevent any further health complications.

One of the most prominent signs of dehydration in cats is a lack of urination or dark-colored urine. This is because cats that are dehydrated will not be able to produce enough urine, or their urine will be darker than usual due to the concentration of waste products. Keeping an eye on your cat’s litter box and ensuring they are urinating regularly can help you monitor their water intake.

Another common sign of dehydration in cats is dry skin and gums. A dehydrated cat will have less elastic skin and dry gums, which indicates a lack of moisture in their body. You can check for dehydration by gently pinching the skin on the back of your cat’s neck; if it doesn’t return to its normal position quickly, it may be a sign of dehydration.

In addition, lethargy, loss of appetite, sunken eyes, panting, and rapid heartbeat are other signs of dehydration in cats. If you notice any of these symptoms in your furry friend, it’s crucial to monitor them carefully and take them to the vet immediately if you suspect dehydration.

Potential Health Complications from Prolonged Fasting

Prolonged fasting can lead to several potential health complications that can be life-threatening if left untreated. Here are some of the potential health issues that can arise from prolonged fasting in cats.

One of the primary concerns when a cat is fasting is dehydration. Cats are not naturally inclined to drink large amounts of water, making it vital for them to receive enough fluids through their food. If a cat goes without water for even a few days, it can quickly become dehydrated, leading to lethargy, dry mouth and nose, sunken eyes, and decreased skin elasticity. Without prompt intervention, dehydration can be fatal.

Another potential complication of prolonged fasting in cats is malnutrition. Cats require specific nutrients that are only found in meat-based diets. If a cat stops eating for an extended period, it can become deficient in these essential nutrients, leading to muscle wasting, weight loss, and anemia. In severe cases, malnutrition can lead to organ failure and death.

Finally, prolonged fasting can also lead to liver failure in cats. When cats stop eating for an extended period, the liver begins to break down stored fats to provide energy. However, if this process continues for too long, it can lead to a buildup of toxic byproducts in the liver called ketones. Ketones can damage liver cells and cause organ failure if left untreated.

Preventative Measures to Ensure Your Cat Has Access to Essential Elements

One of the best ways to ensure this is by taking preventative measures to make sure that they have access to essential elements, including proper nutrition and hydration.

Start by providing your cat with fresh, clean water at all times. While cats may not drink large amounts of water at once, they need to drink regularly throughout the day. You can encourage your cat to drink more by providing a water fountain or adding a small amount of low-sodium chicken broth to their water bowl.

In addition to water, your cat needs a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. Make sure to feed them a high-quality commercial cat food that contains protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Avoid feeding them table scraps or human food, as these can be harmful and lead to nutritional imbalances.

Monitoring your cat’s eating habits and any changes in appetite is also crucial. If you notice that your cat is not eating or drinking as much as usual or has lost weight, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue. In this case, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian for advice on how to address the problem.

To further ensure that your cat has access to essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals, consider adding supplements to their diet if you feel they aren’t getting the necessary nutrients through their food.

Finally, don’t forget about keeping your cat’s environment clean. This includes regularly cleaning their litter box and making sure that their food and water bowls are free from bacteria.

Seeking Veterinary Attention When Necessary

That’s why it’s crucial to act promptly and seek veterinary attention when necessary, particularly when your kitty stops eating or drinking.

Cats that abstain from food for more than 24 hours are at risk of developing a severe and potentially life-threatening condition called fatty liver disease. This condition occurs when the liver can’t function correctly due to the lack of nutrients and energy needed to carry out its vital functions. As a responsible pet parent, it’s essential to take action immediately if you notice that your cat has not been eating or drinking for an extended period.

In addition to fatty liver disease, cats that go without food or water for an extended period can also become dehydrated, which can lead to other health problems such as kidney failure and urinary tract infections. Seeking veterinary attention in these cases can help prevent serious health complications from arising.

Your veterinarian will be able to assess your cat’s condition and determine the underlying cause of their loss of appetite. They may also recommend tests such as blood work and urinalysis to rule out any underlying medical conditions. Depending on the severity of the situation, your veterinarian may recommend hospitalization and supportive care such as intravenous fluids and nutrition.

It’s important to remember that there are also steps you can take at home to encourage your cat to eat and drink. Offering small amounts of food frequently throughout the day, providing fresh water in a clean bowl, and even enticing your kitty with canned food or treats with a strong aroma can stimulate their appetite.


To sum up, cats need food and water to survive, despite their impressive survival instincts. The duration of time a cat can go without these necessities depends on factors such as age, health, size and weight, activity level, and environment. If a cat doesn’t drink water for 24 hours, it can become dehydrated quickly, leading to serious health issues. Prolonged fasting in cats can cause malnutrition, resulting in muscle wasting, weight loss, anemia or even organ failure.

As responsible pet owners, we must monitor our cats’ food and water intake daily and seek veterinary attention immediately if we notice any changes in behavior or appetite. We should provide fresh water at all times and feed them a balanced diet that meets their nutritional requirements. Additionally, keeping their environment clean by regularly cleaning their litter box and food and water bowls is essential.

If we suspect our feline friend is suffering from dehydration or malnutrition, we should take them to the vet straight away for necessary treatment and fluids. At home, offering small amounts of food frequently throughout the day and providing fresh water in a clean bowl can help stimulate their appetite. Enticing them with canned food or treats with a strong aroma may also be helpful.

In conclusion, taking preventative measures to ensure our cats have access to proper nutrition and hydration can help us avoid potential health complications associated with prolonged fasting.