How Long Can a Cat Go Without Eating?

There are few reasons why a cat might refuse food or drink. In any case, it’s always an indication that something is wrong. Depending on your cat’s medical history and age, refusal of food could be a life or death situation. If you’ve been observing that your cat hasn’t been eating for a couple of days, your concerns should be raised immediately because all of that only signifies an underlying problem that’s manifesting itself that way. In addition, just because your cat isn’t eating doesn’t mean it’s not feeling any type of hunger. Again, there are few reasons why your cat might not be eating or drinking water, and cats could only go so long without either.

Reasons why cats might not eat or drink

This spectrum is not that wide, but there really could be few reasons why your cat has not eaten for a while. The simplest explanation is that it’s feeling sick—in the most literal sense. It might have a stomach bug or stomach worms that’s making it feel nauseous and just not up to consuming anything. If your cat is feeling sick in other ways, it might be just too weak to walk over to its food or water bowl in order to eat.

We’ve also heard of situations when pregnant cats have stopped eating. This is more than likely a signal that the cat is about to give birth. The refrain from eating is in preparation of the birthing process. Mommy cats typically consume their placenta after giving birth. If a pregnant cat goes too long without eating, it’s probably better to take it to the vet to make sure that it isn’t anything else.

Your cat not eating could also be an indication of a serious and terminal illness. If you already know that your cat has a terminal disease such as acute kidney failure, then lack of appetite or lack of ability to eat is something you should come to expect. On the other hand, if you are not aware of your cat having a terminal illness, refusal of food is a likely symptom that it has one, especially in older age. The disease itself will render your cat weak and too sick to move, but the lack of food will only exacerbate that symptom. The cat is likely not to have an appetite, and even if it did, it will likely be too nauseated to actually consume anything.

How long can a cat go without eating?

In truth, if your cat has a terminal illness, not eating is probably the sign of the end stages. Your cat can go on for several days without food or water before it passes naturally. However, there’s no guarantee that your cat is not suffering during those last few days. If you wish for your cat to die a natural death, it’s probably a good idea to make sure that there is no pain or suffering involved.

In the case of a terminal illness, it’s highly unlikely that there’s no pain or suffering. The lack of water alone will cause your cat to become dehydrated, another serious condition that could get quite painful if untreated. Its feces will become too hard and it will experience painful constipation as a result. In addition, your cat might also experience seizures due to the build up of toxins in the body. There’s also the possibility of ulcer development in some illnesses. All of these don’t even include the fact that most of the time, your cat will probably feel a relentless thirst that they just can’t satiate. Even if that’s not painful, it’s a suffering that’s hard to bear for anyone.

If this is the case for your cat, it might be a good idea to see a veterinarian for other options. It’s inhuman to let a cat suffer this much until it’s death, and there are ways to alleviate any pain or suffering along the way. Your vet should be able to give you some information regarding euthanasia, treatment, or hospice.

If your cat is not facing death through a terminal disease, you should still see a veterinarian to figure out what’s causing this lack of appetite or inability to eat or drink. The longer this goes on untreated and unresolved, the worse it will be for your cat.


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