When we own a cat, we anyhow try to give her the max affection, love, and care. Meeting her basic needs, such as food and water constitutes our daily tasks. But imagine a situation when you mistakenly forget to give her food and water and leave for work.
Or more terrible, you are out on a vacation for a week and forgot to leave adequate water for your cat. And later some time it immediately strikes your mind that you made a big mistake.
The first thing you would worry about is how long will your cat sustain without food and water. Disturbing thoughts will ruin your mind, like “Would my cat die or survive?”. You might also plan to rush back home immediately, which makes sense.
Because an ordinary house cat can only survive for about 3-4 days without water.
What Happens to a Cat Without Food and Water?
As long as your cat has a source of water in the house, she will manage to survive. She can even survive for many days even if you have forgotten to leave food for her. But without water, there is hardly any chance she can persist for long. Most likely she will die within 4 days without drinking water.
What if a Cat Doesn’t Get Enough Water to Drink?
Just like humans, cats too want abundant water to drink to keep themselves alive. Drinking scarce or no water will result in highly adverse effects on the cat’s health. Moreover, it will put you in frustration, particularly when you have no idea how to tackle the situation.
- Your kitty will get dehydrated especially when she does not drink sufficient water but keeps urinating regularly. Because of losing excess fluids and nutrients from the body, she will experience a damaging effect on her strength.
- When the cat will become too dehydrated, she might get constipated, start vomiting, feel a dry-mouth, or an increased heart rate.
- Your cat lastly will become extremely weak and feeble. She will also get agitated because of fatigue and thirst.
- Later with no water, the cat will undergo a hepatic failure. Her muscles will catabolize, moving towards a slow but torturous death.
Rarely any cats survive if left without water at home for long. It is essential for you to leave a plentiful amount of food and water when you leave your cat alone at home. Confirm twice that the food and water are conveniently accessible to your cat.
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How Long Can a Cat Live Without Food?
Mammals including humans can survive a little longer without food. This means your cat too can live a bit longer without food if left unattended.
A cat can survive for up to two weeks without food. However, that doesn’t mean it will not cause any harm to her health. The longer a cat doesn’t eat the worse health consequences she might experience.
Food Scarcity Can Cause Organ Failure
A body functions well only because of proper nutrition intake. The deficiency of just one of the vitamins or minerals can cause so much harm to health. Imagine how much serious damage can be caused because of not eating any food.
Digestive System Failure: Once the cat stops getting any food, and hence nutrients, her body will start deteriorating. The damage will first begin from her digestive tract which will shut down completely.
Hepatic Lipidosis: A problem in the digestive system will directly affect the liver. She will face hepatic lipidosis a fatal illness of the liver in cats, which is a result of starvation.
Kidney Failure: Then the kidney will get affected due to no direct or indirect water intake. Canned foods contain 80% liquid. If the cat is neither getting water nor food, she will experience kidney failure due to complete dehydration.
Brain Stops Working: Deficiency of nutrients affects all organs including the central nervous system. Fluid loss disbalances the electrolytes. As the brain functions on sending and receiving chemicals, it begins deteriorating. Lack of protein, iodine, vitamins, iron, sodium, and magnesium altogether will disfunction the cat’s brain.
Heart Failure: Lastly, due to cardiac changes and anemia, the heart stops working causing death.
Note: A cat can live for two weeks if she is not eating food but is only drinking water. If she is left without any food or water she will not survive for more than 4 days.
Is Your Cat Not Eating Or Drinking Anything?
If you have experience of living with cats before, then you apparently have found your feline being annoying at times. Maintaining a cat’s health cannot be easy always.
Sometimes they do absurd things and put you into worries. Whereas in many cases they just start acting weird for no clear reason, like eating and drinking nothing.
So what would you do if your kitty suddenly stops eating and drinking? Instead of panicking, try to find out a few reasons why your cat is avoiding food and water.
Is the Bowl Dirty?
Cats like staying very clean and have a very good sense of smell. If she finds the food and water bowls dirty then she will not eat or drink from it. Also if you have other pets and all share the same bowls then your cat might not like it. She will consider the smell of another animal as their territory and therefore avoid their bowls too.
Hence, you must regularly clean both the bowls and always serve fresh food and water to her. If you have more than one pet then make sure to keep separate bowls for each pet.
If your cat still avoids drinking water then she possibly does not like bowls. Many cats prefer to drink water from a fountain or a tap directly. Provide her access to a tap where she can drink water regularly.
Feeding Canned Food
Canned food mostly contains 80% liquid and therefore it keeps the cat hydrated for long. If your cat is drinking less water then it’s because she is getting enough from the food. Hence, you must not worry about it. In fact, canned foods are sometimes better alternatives to dry food.
Disturbed Digestive System
If your cat is experiencing indigestion or any other digestive problem then undoubtedly she will avoid eating food. Possibly your furball is suffering from a digestive disorder or feeling nauseous.
She will also refuse to intake fluids or food if currently, she is having another problem like diarrhea, stomach ache, or issues related to improper digestion.
Is Your Cat Old?
Sometimes with growing age, a cat’s appetite starts reducing. A lot of changes are seen like eating or drinking less, being inactive, agitation or sleeping more. You should visit a vet to confirm whether the cat’s behavior is due to aging or something else.
Cats sometimes exhibit a variety of mood-swings like humans. Psychological factors like stress, depression, or a psychic illness also cause a loss of appetite.
Cats suffer from separation anxiety, mainly kittens that have recently changed houses or separated from a loved one. She might refuse to eat and drink until recovering from the condition.
Whatever the Reason Be | Visit a Vet
Try everything to feed the cat by changing the type of food or cleaning the bowls. Give her options, like a fountain to drink water. If nothing works and the cat keeps refusing to eat or drink for a couple of days, then rush to the vet. As said earlier a cat can’t live long without drinking water.
Describe her situation to the vet. Elaborate if any changes have occurred in the cat’s life and surroundings. Tell about all the attempts that you have made to resolve the issue.
Your furball possibly isn’t eating or drinking because of a serious health problem or pregnancy. The vet can examine her to determine what is the underlying cause. Cats, by such behaviors, convey to us that they are unwell or disliking something. Hence, never compromise her health and well-being.
How much water does a cat need?
Cats need about 3.5–4.5 ounces of water per 5 pounds of their body weight per day. For bigger cats weighing around 10 pounds, they would need around 7-9 ounces of water daily. This approximately means around half of an average bottle of water.
What do I do if my cat won’t eat or drink?
If your cat is not eating or drinking, try to stimulate their appetite with commercially available canned food or seafood or cooked eggs. You can also add some water to their food or provide wet food or add fish oil to their meals to stimulate them to eat. If nothing works for a few days, you may need to visit a vet.
How do I encourage my cat to drink more water?
You can encourage your cat to drink more water by placing water bowls in their favorite places around the house, by adding some seafood water in their drinking water, by providing them wet food, or by placing drinking fountains to attract them to drink more and stay hydrated.
What are the symptoms of dehydration in cats?
Dehydration symptoms in cats may include lethargy, loss of appetite, panting, dry mouth, elevated heart rate, reduced skin elasticity, etc. In such cases, you must give them sufficient water and wet food and in serious conditions, rush to a vet immediately.
Do cats stop eating when they are dying?
Cats show varied changes in behavior when their end days are coming close, one of which also includes reduced appetite and weight loss. As most of the energy in their body is spent to keep them alive, they do not feel like eating anything to spend their energy in ingesting the food, and hence they might stop eating.
Anthony Brooks has an undergraduate degree in veterinary science and is a managing editor and regular contributor for catlovesbest.com. Being an avid pet enthusiast, he lives in Wisconsin and is a guardian to three snow-white Maine Coons – mom, dad, and their kitty. In his spare time, he loves to review products that cats find delightful and loves to share his insights with other fellow cat enthusiasts on this website.