How Long Can A Cat Go Without Food And Water?

Every living creature including cats requires food, water and nutrients but the thing is how long could they go without these essential things? Well, lets get into detail about that.

How Long Can A Cat Go Without Food And Water?

Without both food and water a cat will survive for about 3 days. Not a very long time. If the cat has canned food it can survive longer without water since there is more moisture in canned varieties of cat food. No all cats are the same however but they all go through the same symptoms.

Other factors go into how long the cat will last without food and water including:

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Weather
  • Emotional state

Elderly cats tend to last less time and kittens also won’t last as long as adult cats either.

How Long Can A Cat Go Without Food?

If a cat has food but no water the cat will survive for about two weeks. Sometimes they will only last a single week A cat if completely anorectic (lack of appetite) for even a couple of days its can be potentially life threatening.

How Long Can A Cat Go Without Water?

Cats don’t go very long without water. If they have only water and no food they will only last about 7 days without any form of hydration.

How Long Can A Elderly Cat Go Without Food And Water?

Though I don’t have an exact number they generally don’t last as long as younger cats.

How Long Can A Sick Cat Go Without Food And Water?

If your cat is sick they will last a lot less time compared to a healthy cat. Without food and water a healthy cat will last about 4 to 8 days while a sicker cat will last about 12 to 48 hours.

Symptoms Of Malnutrition In A Cat

If the cat is close to kicking the bucket here are some symptoms of malnutrition that you might notice before they die.

  • Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Muscular weakness
  • Failing eye sight
  • Diarrhea
  • Runny or hard feces
  • Swelling of gums
  • Lack of grooming
  • Impaired immune response
  • Poor coordination
  • Neurotic behavior
  • Caved in nails
  • Major Internal Organ Problems
  • Flatulence
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Organ failure
  • Death

Other Symptoms

There are also other symptoms that the cat might experience. Over time the cat will start to develop bald spots. If the hair grows back it will be darker compared to the other hair. If the malnutrition becomes severe enough the cat will start to develop a skeletal like appearance. The stomach will also shrink.

Hepatic Lipidosis

Hepatic Lipidosis or fatty liver disease is a very common disease for cats that refuse to eat food. When your cat hasn’t eaten food in a long time fat cells will start to build up on their livers thus preventing their livers from functioning properly or in other word liver failure.

Signs Of Dehydration In Cats

If a cat hasn’t had anything to drink for a very long time these are some things that you will notice:

  • Dry Gums
  • Lack Of Appitite
  • Listlessness

Another thing to watch out for is skin tenting. If you take a pinch of skin over the cats shoulders it should snap back into place. If they are dehydrated however it will take more time for the skin to go back into place and will take longer the more time they go without water.

What Causes Dehydration In Cats?

Things like diabetes, vomiting, diarrhea and heatstroke are all common causes of dehydration in a cat.

Why Do Cats Stop Drinking And Eating?

The most common reason is they are stray feral cats that don’t have access to food and water. Other reasons include:

Cats Are Picky

They may stop drinking water because you haven’t changed it in a long time or they don’t really like hard water. As for food they might just be tired of the same food and want change or they never liked the food you gave them in the first place.


If your cat has not eaten or drank water in a while its probably a good idea to visit your vet to see what is up with them. They could have a certain illness that is preventing them from wanting food or water.

How Long Should You Wait To See A Vet?

It really depends on your particular cat and it own behaviors. If they happen to go a lot longer without food or water then they usually do then its probably wise to take them.

Keep in mind however cats do have a tendency to skip a meal or two. They also might eat less temporarily due to hairballs, plant ingestion and excessive vomiting.

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 3.5–4.5 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight daily.


Luckily this is generally only a problem with stray feral cats so you probably won’t have to see this unfortunate experience.