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How Long Can An Elderly Cat Go Without Eating

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How To Encourage Your Cat To Eat

Cats go without food, water for about 2 weeks

02nd December 2019

When cats are not feeling well or stressed they may suffer from a lack of appetite. If that happens youll need to try and coax them to eat, which can sometimes be difficult. Cats do, however, respond well to tender loving care.

If your cat has had an operation or has a serious illness it may not feel like eating when you take it home. The trouble with not eating is that it is a vicious circle for the cat it feels unwell and doesnt want to eat, without food it feels weak and more unwell, and so on. If it doesnt eat its body will start to break down body tissue for energy in order to function, and this can slow healing. Eating is very important to recovery. Otherwise, the immune system may not function properly, making the cat more susceptible to infection, and the way the cats body responds to the drugs intended to make it better may even be affected.

Unlike dogs, which can go without food for some time without serious consequences, cats can develop a problem called hepatic lipidosis, a disease of the liver which can be fatal. This can develop if a cat doesnt eat even for a relatively short time . We also know that cats have very specific needs when it comes to nutrients, and a lack of these can be dangerous too. The problem is that cats are usually not so food-orientated as dogs and can be finicky eaters, so it can be difficult to encourage them to start eating sometimes.

How Do You Comfort A Sick Cat

Sick cats will often take to hiding in secluded spots, which is why you mustnt force your pet to do anything its not comfortable with.;

Its also a good idea to keep a supply of fresh water and the food bowl close to wherever your pet feels most comfortable.;

You can also try gently grooming your cat with a soft-bristled brush when it seeks you out to allow it to relax and get comfortable. Also, always make sure that your pets litter is clean because cats can sometimes refuse to use a dirty litter box.;

Your Cat May Be Suffering From Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure can result in fatigue and difficulty breathing, both of which can make your cat less interested in eating.

In addition, medications or a new food thats prescribed for heart disease may affect your cats appetite, especially if the new food is less palatable than what your cat is accustomed to eating.1

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What Are The Symptoms

Everyone knows that in an animal, drinking lots of water can be a sign of kidney disease, but this can also be a symptom of other illnesses. Cats are discreet and may be secret drinkers, so early signs of excess thirst may be missed and they may become quite ill before treatment is sought. As kidney disease advances, other symptoms include weight loss, signs of dehydration, poor appetite, smelly breath, a sore mouth, vomiting and weakness. Eventually there may be twitchiness or even fits. However, these symptoms are common to many illnesses, not just kidney disease.

What Happens When A Cat Doesnt Eat

How Long Can a Cat Go Without Eating?

When a cat or any animal stops eating it dips into its fat stores for energy. This is a normal function.;

The problem arises when the cat does not have enough protein in its diet to bind with the fat in its bloodstream because it has missed too many meals. The fat begins to build up and swamp the liver awaiting a protein supply to bind with and move out to body cells for metabolism.

Essentially if no protein supply arrives from a recent meal this build-up of fat in the liver creates fatty liver disease or hepatic lipidosis in very short order. In itself, this can lead to a massive reduction in appetite which deepens the problem. The fatter the cat, the worse the problem as more fat is circulated and clogs up the liver whilst awaiting a protein supply.;

So how long can a cat go without food? Unfortunately, the condition can prove fatal in as short a period as 2 10 days.

You can read an excellent write-up on the condition here at Essentially, as the article suggests, feline hepatic lipidosis is a very serious condition and the treatment of the condition is difficult and can take weeks of tube feeding to overcome. A cat that has suffered from the condition rarely fully recovers they often suffer longer-term organ damage at a minimum, even if they cheat death.;;

This is why a cat missing meals for any period of time is an emergency.

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Why Is My Adult Cat Not Eating

Loss of appetite can have many causes in adult cats.

If your cat wont eat, some causes may be evident through a vets physical exam of your cat, while others may require diagnostic tests like blood work or x-rays.

If your adult cat has had a poor appetite or simply wont eat for more than two days, take your cat to your veterinarian to find out the cause.

Here are some possible reasons why your cat is not eating.

Your Kitten Might Have Eaten Something They Shouldnt Have

The natural curiosity of kittens sometimes gets them into trouble. Kittens have been known to eat string, tinsel, hair ties, and other objects that can get stuck in their stomach or small intestines. Never let your kitten play with string, balloon ribbons, hair ties, plastic grass used in Easter baskets, tinsel, or other objects they could eat.

Surgery is sometimes needed to remove the offending item, so call your veterinarian right away if you suspect that your kitten has eaten something they shouldnt have or if their decreased appetite is also accompanied by vomiting.

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What To Do If Your Cats Not Eating

Since cats as a species are quite good at hiding when they are in pain or not feeling well, its important to pay attention to any changes in your cats habits, especially when it comes to eating.

Contact your veterinarian if your kitten has not eaten for one to two days or if your adult cat has not eaten in two days.

Adult cats, especially those that are overweight, can develop a serious disease called hepatic lipidosis if they stop eating, so prompt action is important.

If your cat stops eating and also has these symptoms, take them to the vet immediately: ;

  • Vomiting

  • Hospitalization and fluid therapy

  • Medication to treat nausea or to stimulate the appetite

If your vet determines that your cat is healthy, but is just a picky eater, follow these tips:

  • Try feeding your cat foods with different textures, flavors, or shapes, and make sure to warm up wet foods if they have been refrigerated.

  • Buy only as much dry food as your cat will eat in a month, as some foods will go stale or become rancid if the package has been open for more than a month.

Its always best to know what is normal for your cat and to watch for signs that your cat is not eating so you know when to seek help.


  • Case LP, Daristotle L, Hayek MG, et al.Canine and Feline Nutrition: A Resource for Companion Animal Professionals. 3rd ;edition. Mosby Elsevier. Maryland Heights, Mo. 2011
  • Reasons Why They May Not Be Eating

    How Long Should Dogs Eat Puppy Food
  • Dental/tooth pain, infections or injuries;that can make eating or chewing painful, such as inflamed gums, an abscess, a broken tooth, oral tumors, or other inflammatory issues
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Kidney disease
  • Digestive obstruction, indigestion, or constipation
  • Recent vaccination or medication
  • Anxiety, stress, or depression
  • New food
  • Metabolism might be slowing down, especially in older cats
  • They might be full
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    Which Is More Serious Not Eating Or Not Drinking

    Not drinking.

    When a cat doesnt eat, they lose a great number of nutrients and start to fatigue, but luckily, as soon as they eat next they should be back to their normal self.

    This is not true of water though. If a cat is dehydrated, much like a human their internal organs will begin to fail.

    This is true most of the liver and kidneys, but it does, in fact, affect other organs. The process goes as such: Stomach > Kidneys > Liver > Other Organs > Heart > Brain. Even if you get water into their system after the organs start shutting down, the damage may already be unrepairable.

    Other Health Threats To Worry About If Your Cat Doesnt Eat

    One long term damage is fatty liver disease or hepatic lipidosis . When a cats body does not have enough water or if she does not eat for an extended period of time, she may become susceptible to acquiring HL.

    A larger or fatter cat would be more prone to it, as the body loses weight, the first to go would be fat and liver fat would not be affected.

    This may cause an imbalance in the body and eventually lead to the onset of the disease. Only a vet can determine this for sure, by means of a liver biopsy.

    There are several reasons why cats don’t eat. It could be because of depression, or your cat may just be looking for variety in her diet.

    If after trying something new, your pet is still not interested in food, it may be time to bring her to the vet for a checkup and tests.

    Your pet may have diabetes, liver problem, or a heart condition. Either way, only lab tests and scans can confirm your suspicion.

    The important thing is to be observant and try to be as responsive as you can to your pets needs.

    The sooner you spot the signs and symptoms the better, so your cat can receive treatment as soon as possible and thus prevent any further damage to her body.

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    Ive Adopted An Older Cat How Soon Can They Go Outside

    If youve adopted an older cat, youre generally advised to keep them in for two or three weeks to give them a chance to settle in. Some cats will take happily to this enforced period of being indoors, while others will be frustrated by not going out. Make sure your cat feels properly at home before you let it outside.

    As with a kitten, accompany your cat outside for the first time and have some food ready to tempt them back inside, if necessary.

    How Long Can Cats Go Without Food

    How Long Can a Cat Go Without Eating?

    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 dont 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 doesnt eat.

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    What Happens When You Leave A Cat Alone

    Every cat will have a different reaction to being left alone. Some will enjoy the freedom and maybe even relish the time that youre away. Others might not notice youre missing theyre too busy sleeping. And some cats might suffer especially if left alone for too long.

    To get clues on how your cat reacts when you are away, we recommend the following:

    • Invest in a pet home camera; you can literally watch and observe your cat while theyre home alone.
    • When you return home, check for signs of activity. Is your cats bed still warm? Or did they tear up a piece of furniture?
    • Look for changes in your cats behavior, litter box use, appetite, or grooming habits, as these could be a sign that your cat is suffering from loneliness or otherwise having trouble being left alone.

    Look out for the warning signs of separation anxiety, which could indicate that it is not healthy to leave your cat alone for too long.

    The Importance Of Routine

    If youve lived with cats for many years, youre probably familiar with your pet waking you up promptly for breakfast. Cats love routine and as they get old, they really appreciate familiarity and predictability.

    You can put them at ease by serving meals at the same time each day, keeping things calm at home and avoiding moving furniture around wherever possible, so the home environment remains familiar and easy to navigate.

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    Caring For Older Cats

    As with people, cats slow down as they age. They may want to take less exercise, they may start to put on weight and their personality may change. Some cats become friendlier and want to spend more time with their owners. Others become grumpier and do not like being touched. Many cats sleep more and go out less. However, changes in personality can be a sign of pain or illness so it is worth checking with your vet. Don’t forget that older cats still need regular vaccination, flea and worming treatment.

    What Should I Do If My Cat Is Dehydrated

    Can You Survive Without Food And Water?

    Dehydration is often a sign of a serious underlying medical condition in cats. If you suspect that your cat is dehydrated, contact your veterinarian for help right away.

    In the mean time you can try some home remedies to rehydrate your cat:

    • Add a small amount of chicken broth or tuna juice to their water.
    • Instead of dry food, try giving them wet food.
    • Place some ice cubes in their water bowl.

    You must get to know your cats food and water preferences. For instance, some cats like drinking water from a water dish while some like using a cat fountain. You want to try to encourage them to drink. However, you should never force them.;

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    What Is Blood Pressure

    Imagine a hose pipe connected to a tap. If the tap is turned on slightly, the hose will be soft because the pressure inside is low. If the tap is full on, or if a hose of smaller diameter is used, it will feel hard as the pressure in it is high. The same principles apply to blood in the blood vessels. Kidney disease and high blood pressure are connected because failing kidneys produce chemicals that contract the blood vessels and so raises blood pressure. In addition, they cannot eliminate excess salt, which then leads to retention of water in the circulation. This increases blood volume, which further raises the blood pressure. Blood pressure can also rise in hyperthyroidism sometimes for no apparent reason.

    How Much Food And Water Does A Cat Need

    It really depends on a lot of things. In fact its probably best that you ask your veterinarian this question. In terms of an average number however your cat should ingest about 24 to 35 calories a day per pound.

    In terms of water they needs about 3.54.5 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight daily.

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    How Do I Know If My Cat Is Dehydrated

    When a cat doesn’t consume enough water, she is at risk for dehydration. “Dehydration occurs when the normal body fluids, including water and electrolytes, fall below required needs,” describes Petcha, causing problems in her energy, skin and organ function. A cat not drinking water isn’t always the cause for dehydration, but often it’s a fairly common reason or symptom of dehydration.

    Is There Anything I Can Do While Waiting For The Vet

    How Long Can CATS Go Without EATING? (Im Worried!)

    Absolutely, but please dont use these as ways to avoid the vet!

    If your cat starts showing signs of dehydration grab a clean syringe and help them drink by gently opening their mouth and squirting the syringe in their mouth. The same can be done with wet food.

    Again, a vet visit is;the best answer, as they can hook your little buddy up to fluids, but if this is a dire case where the vet is closed or youre on your way to the vet, thats your best hope.

    I wouldnt do this regularly as it can be traumatic, but a number of vets do recommend doing it when your cat has frequent UTIs or is commonly dehydrated.

    I must stress again, you hydrating your cat may not be enough to save them, make sure you take your cat to the vet if you suspect they are dehydrated.

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    What Happens If A Cat Goes Hungry For A Long Time

    It can be hard to tell when to visit the doctor to know whats going on when the cat refuses to eat.

    However, you should always bear in mind that keeping them hungry for long periods can do more harm than what could already be happening within their bodies.

    It is dangerous for a moggy to stay starving for a long time. This is because, aside from any disease they may be suffering from, driving them not to eat, being hungry leads to them getting a hepatic lipidosis or more commonly known as fatty liver disease.

    Fatty liver disease is the most common malady in cats. It happens when there is an extreme build-up of fat inside the cells and tissues of the liver. If disregarded, it may progress and lead to liver and biliary tract dysfunction and death.

    But, how does being hungry relate to fatty liver?

    When a kitten goes for too long without eating, the fat cells stored in the body are processed and broken down for energy.

    This is the typical and common response to starvation for most animals. The fat being metabolized is packaged with protein and sent through the bloodstream to the cells of the body.

    However, if the animal is not eating, there wont be enough protein to go along with the fat.

    Therefore, the fat builds up in the liver and upsets the function of the liver. The liver dysfunction it results in will even make the cat less likely to want to eat, then becomes even sicker.

    Hepatic lipidosis has two types:

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