A cat can go without eating between 7 and 14 days as long as she has water intake. However, if aside from not eating she is also not taking a drop of water, she will only survive for more or less three days.
How long can a cat go without eating?
While cats tend to be finicky eaters, you can’t help but worry if your cat suddenly loses all interest in her food. Some cats are prone to grazing but if she does not touch her food for 24 hours or more it is cause for alarm.
The downside of even a moderate period of not eating is that even a day or two may already cause lingering damage on your cat that may affect her for her entire life.
If your cat is not eating anything for 24 to 36 hours, you should bring her to the vet. Cats that are not eating for over a day already lose energy and nutrients which are important for them to function.
What are the reasons why your cat won’t eat?
These are the common reasons why cats are not eating:
She may have an illness or health issue.
A major sign of a health issue for a cat not eating is a loss of appetite so be on the lookout if your cat suddenly ceases to eat. The issue may vary from a manageable level like constipation to a more serious reason like infections.
These are some of the common health issues that may be the culprit why your cat is not eating:
- dental/tooth problems like an abscessed tooth root, broken tooth, oral tumor, or tooth resorption
- pancreatitis or an inflamed pancreas
- kidney disease
- digestive obstruction
- intestinal problems
- urinary obstruction
- upper respiratory infection
She just had her vaccination
Did your cat lose her appetite shortly after she was at the vet for her scheduled vaccinations? If yes, your cat may not be eating due to a negative reaction to the vaccines. Cats normally experience side effects like loss of appetite although this is just mild and temporary.
She just had surgery
Cats are often reluctant to eat after surgery.
Your cat may be stressed or you may be traveling.
If you’re traveling with your cat, chances are she may lose appetite due to motion sickness. Another reason why your cat may not be eating is due to stress or anxiety brought about by the new surroundings. Cats love routines and sudden changes in their environment may result in stress and anxiety.
Your cat may be a fussy eater.
Most cats are known to be finicky eaters and your cat may be one of them. Some of them may just take a longer time when it comes to adjusting to various types of food. If this is the case, you may have to experiment with various flavors and textures when it comes to her wet canned food.
She may be bored with her food or it may lack flavor.
Your cat may have lost interest in her food because she’s bored with it or it may lack flavor. Try to introduce her to various textures like stews and pates as well as varying flavors like turkey and seafood. Check out our article on why cat won’t eat wet food anymore for more helpful information on this.
It may be painful for her to eat.
Another reason why your cat is not eating is that it is too painful for her to eat. It could be due to sensitive teeth or other tooth problems and senior cats are the ones that are most prone to this.
What to do if your cat won’t eat?
Here are the things that you should do if your cat won’t eat:
- combine some water from a can of tuna to her food
- give your cat wet canned food such as the seafood varieties
- warm her food in a microwave before serving it to her but make sure it’s not hot
- add some warmed chicken broth to your cat’s food
- give your cat some meat baby food
- try to sprinkle some grated parmesan
- try to add some nutritional yeast powder to her food, it has a nutty and cheesy flavor that most cats love and it also has Vitamin B
- mix some probiotic to her food as an appetite enhancer, like Purina FortiFlora probiotic
Other measures that you can try to stimulate your cat’s appetite and encourage her to eat would be the use of appetite stimulants like Yucca and Mirtazapine and by giving your cat a Vitamin B12 shot. Yucca is a herb that’s rich in Vitamin C, beta carotene, magnesium, and protein, among others. It is well-known as a pain medication but also used as a natural appetite stimulant for cats.
Mirtazapine is an FDA-approved appetite stimulant that is also used to control nausea. Meanwhile, a Vitamin B12 shot may also be recommended to make your cat eat again. Consult your vet on these measures so you will be guided accordingly.
Seeing your cat lose interest in her food is a cause for concern especially if aside from not eating she is also not drinking water. Cats can only survive between 7 and 14 days without food and only 1-3 without water and the extent of organ failure and nutrient loss can be life-threatening after just a day of not eating anything. Sometimes, warming up your cat’s food, adding warm broth, or placing some probiotic may do wonders. However, if your cat still won’t eat, you should bring her to the vet at once as it may already be due to serious health conditions.
Image: istockphoto.com / Anastasiia Gorshkova