Resilient and mysterious, cats usually find a way to survive while on their own. They hunt for food and manage to find water sources to keep them going when living in the wild.
If your pet cat has ever escaped your yard and disappeared for a few weeks, you indeed were happily surprised when they returned in good health. Chances are they found food and water sources on their travels, but what about domestic cats that stop eating? How long can cats go without food?
As a concerned pet parent, you have probably noticed your cat’s appetite has decreased or stopped altogether. There might even be signs of weight loss due to eating less. There are various reasons why your cat has stopped eating, and there is something you can do about it now.
The information below will help you determine why your cat has stopped eating and what you can do to help your furry friend.
How long Can Cats Go Without Eating?
Typically a healthy cat can survive without food for up to two weeks. Factors such as lack of water and protein can cause the time frame to shrink by a few days, depending on the situation. Some cats with no food or water for as little as two days can quickly become malnourished and need veterinary care.
Reasons A Cat May Have Stopped Eating
Consider the following reasons your cat may have stopped eating:
Do you have a picky eater on your hands? Did you recently change your cat’s food brand or flavor? If so, your cat might be refusing to eat their new food or expressing their dislike for the new brand.
Change the food back to the original option you have always given your cat to see their reaction. If your cat gobbles up their old food, they are probably OK.
However, if they refuse to eat their old food, there could be another reason other than being a picky eater.
If your cat suddenly refuses to eat, it could be experiencing dental problems. Common dental issues include inflamed gums, sore teeth, rotten teeth, or an infection. If you suspect your cat has dental issues, visit a veterinarian for a dental exam immediately. Untreated dental infections can lead to severe health conditions.
Is your cat currently taking prescription medication for health conditions or ailments? If so, check with the veterinarian to see the possible side effects. Many prescriptions treat the current problem effectively but cause other issues such as lack of appetite.
If you suspect the medication is causing your cat not to eat, contact the veterinarian to inquire about alternative treatment that doesn’t include that type of side effect.
Cats experience stress just like humans. Important and serious life events such as moving to a new home, welcoming a new addition to the family, and changes to the daily routine can create chaos in a cat’s life.
These stressful situations can cause your cat to react by refusing to eat. Usually, either putting things back to the way they were, such as furniture placement, reduces stress. However, if you have moved to a new home or have a new family member, your cat will need to accept the unique situation.
This takes time, and you should consult with a veterinarian to determine the right path and eating regimen for your cat.
Upset Stomach and Digestive Issues
Sometimes, your sweet little cat will run off and catch a lizard. This tasty small snack or other types of food your cat doesn’t usually eat can cause an upset stomach.
When your cat feels sick, they instinctively don’t eat until their digestive system has processed the cause and feels better. An upset stomach can also be a side effect of medication.
Cats that are vomiting, lethargic, or have a fever might have developed a condition. If your suspect your cat is sick, seek help from a veterinarian immediately.
Tips To Get Your Cat To Eat
- Add water or low sodium chicken broth to kibble to make it softer and more comfortable to chew.
- Combine wet cat food with kibble for added flavor to activate the appetite.
- Warm-up damp cat food in the microwave.
- Add a few sprinkles of grated cheese to the food for a salty kick.
- Feed your cat their favorite canned food on a spoon to keep them company while they eat.
- Clean the food and water bowls or buy new ones.
- Put dry kibble in an interactive toy ball to stimulate their minds while trying to retrieve the food.
When To See A Vet
It would help if you visited a veterinarian when your cat refuses to eat or drink for more than 48 hours. Sometimes lack of appetite is caused by an underlying illness that can only be diagnosed by a professional.
The Danger Of Sudden Weight Loss
Sudden weight loss in cats can be caused by something as simple as a picky eater or as severe as cancer.
Sudden weight loss can be caused by intestinal parasites, organ failure, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or gastrointestinal problems. Sudden weight loss can lead to malnutrition and other serious health issues if not treated. Consult with a veterinarian for further assistance.
Cats can go without eating for up to two weeks. However, they will begin to feel the effects of malnutrition after 48 hours. Consuming water can help delay dehydration symptoms for a few days or less.
If you notice your cat has stopped eating or suddenly lost weight, contact a veterinarian immediately.
A veterinarian will conduct a thorough exam and determine the reason your cat has stopped eating. It’s wise to discuss the side-effects of prescription medication before giving it to your pet during the visit.
Remember, if you have recently changed your cat’s food, they might be stubborn and refuse to eat the new flavor. Please discuss any health issues or concerns with the veterinarian and follow the regimen to help your cat eat and enjoy their meals again.