Cats are pretty darn good at surviving, but that does not mean they are immune to the risks of not having enough food or water. Knowing your cats eating habits is important to understanding their health! If they eat a full bowl of food every day then suddenly stop – it is important to understand why.
Below are some things I learned in talking to my own veterinarian when my cat Snoopy decided food was not her thing for a few days.
How Long Can A Cat Go Without Food?
Cats should never go more than 2 or 3 days without eating. They rely on a diet that is protein rich and when they do not get enough it can result in illness.
I have seen some websites say cats can live up to 2 weeks without food – please understand this is not correct and most cats will not make it 2 weeks without food! Not eating – or drinking can be signs of serious issues so do not wait more than 2 or 3 days tops to take your cat to the vet!
Reasons A Cat Might Not Eat
If you notice your cat is not eating there could be many reasons. Below are some of the most common reasons you may notice their food bowl is remaining full.
Change in diet. This is a big one as cats are creatures of habit. If you have recently changed foods and your cat is not eating the new, go back to the old for a few days. Then slowly mix the old and new together to transition them to the new food if you prefer they eat that. Some cats may never acclimate to a new food so you should be aware of that!
Feeling ill. Illness is a common reason a cat may stop eating. If you notice they have not eaten in a couple of days a vet visit is highly recommended. If you notice your cat vomiting more than normal or acting off from their usual behavior – you should visit the vest as soon as you notice these items.
Stress. Did you recently move? Is there a new baby in the home? Did you bring another pet into the home? Think about anything that may have impacted their lifestyle and understand this can prevent them from eating like normal.
Medications. If your cat was recently prescribed medications for other health issues, these could be causing their belly to be upset which in turn prevents them from eating. Patience is what you will need with this issue.
Dental disease. While not a huge issue in younger cats, if your older cat is not eating this could be the cause and would definitely require a vet visit. The pain they are feeling is what would be preventing them from eating. You can try giving them soft food if their diet is normally hard – but a vet will help clean the infection and give them antibiotics to minimize their pain.
Should I Be Worried If My Cat Does Not Eat?
If it is just a day or two and no other signs of illness are present – it could just be they have a belly ache or just feel under the weather. Hey, we all feel “yucky” sometimes – pets are no different. So, it may not be something to worry about yet.
If by day 3 they are still not eating, then you should start to be concerned and consider a veterinarian visit to have a professional see if something more serious is going on. Many cats have been diagnosed with Hepatic Lipidosis or fatty liver disease from not eating enough. This disease occurs when the body is not getting enough calories and the cat’s body needs to use fat storage for energy. This can result in liver failure from excess fatty deposits.
What If My Cat Is Not Drinking Water Either?
If your cat is not eating – or drinking then take them to a vet immediately. Dehydration can happen quickly in a cat so it is not worth waiting!
Getting Your Cat To Eat
If you are a cat owner – you know getting a cat to do anything they do not want to do is not easy. But there are things you can do to try and stimulate their appetite.
If you notice they are not eating like normal then you can try a few things to encourage them to eat. If you normally feed your cat dry food – you can start adding in some wet canned food. That is what we did for our Snoopy and it worked for her!
Try adding some fresh cooked chicken or tuna to her dry food – or serve it alone. If this is something they do not usually get, it may be enticing enough to kick start that appetite. Try a different food, maybe the current food as started upsetting their stomach or maybe how it was made has changed and the cat senses something different. Try using a food topper – whether a special type just for cats or even something simple like turkey gravy can make it more enticing to a cat.