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How Long Can A Sick Cat Go Without Eating Or Drinking

Sometimes felines can be super picky when it comes to food. However, a sick cat can go off food due to the illness itself. If you’re anxious about your ill pet’s health and need information on how long can a sick cat go without eating or drinking safely – we’ve got you covered. So, how long can a sick cat go without drinking or eating?

Generally, a cat with no health concerns can survive up to three days without drinking water and approximately one week without eating food. However, if your cat is ill, its immunity is already compromised and weakened – it can suffer the ill effects of not eating or drinking much sooner than a healthy feline.

It’s important to note that if your sick pet hasn’t had anything to drink or eat for two days – you should take it to the vet for urgent medical attention. There may be other reasons why your cat has suddenly taken to ignoring its food. And that’s where we can help. This article will not only focus on reasons why your cat isn’t eating or drinking but also impart practical tips to help your little furbaby. 

Reasons Your Cat Is Not Eating Or Drinking

Cats and humans have more in common than you might think. For instance, it’s not uncommon for felines to experience a lack of appetite if they recover from an illness. 

However, sometimes your furball can go off its food for reasons that may or may not be health-related. The critical bit is to learn how to tell the difference. Here’s how. 

1. Boredom Or Irritability

More often than not, felines don’t like abrupt changes of any kind in their daily routine. But, there are times when your pet will stop eating a particular brand of cat food due to boredom. 

Think about it, how would you fare if you could only ever eat one type of food. Similarly, cats can develop a distaste for their food if they’ve developed an aversion to the flavor you’re feeding them. 

Try introducing a new flavor or brand to your feline’s diet over a while. If it likes the taste and goes back to eating, you’ve managed to solve its inappetence.

However, be sure to introduce the change for a week and a half gradually. That way, your kitty won’t have to face stomach upsets due to a sudden diet change. 

2. Change Of Diet

While changing the diet when your cat’s not eating may tempt it to start chowing down again, an abrupt change in diet can also cause a lack of appetite in felines. 

If your cat was eating just fine before introducing a diet change – it’s likely the new cat food brand or flavor isn’t to your pet’s liking. If there’s no reason behind the switch except wanting your pet to try out new stuff – it’s best to revert to the previous cat food brand. 

Although, if you’ve changed the diet because of a health issue, talk to your vet about other suitable dietary options that may appeal to your cat and try them out. 

3. Another Source Of Food

If your cat has outdoor access, then another possible reason behind your pet not eat or drinking can be another source of sustenance. Sometimes, neighbors can feed familiar pets of the area, and other times your feline can take care of its hunger by hunting little critters. 

The point is, it’s pretty likely your pet isn’t eating when it comes home because it’s got a full belly and no space to eat more food. 

4. Recent Medication Or Vaccination

If your feline has recently received a vaccination or is on some medication, it may experience a lack of appetite as a side effect. In the case of vaccinations, your pet will likely go back to its old eating habits in a day or two as the effects wear off. 

However, if the medication needs to be taken over a long period, you may want to discuss your cat’s inappetence with the vet to see if there’s a better alternative.

5. Change Of Routine

Felines aren’t comfortable with any changes in their daily routine, and the slightest of shifts can be enough to throw them off. For instance, changing homes, adding a new pet, or even the location of their food and water bowls can trigger a reaction. 

In such situations, a cat may make its displeasure known in several ways, and one of them is not eating or drinking. The good news is, once your kitty has gotten used to the new routine, it’ll go back to eating and drinking as usual. 

6. Anxiety Or Stress

Thus far, we’ve discussed external factors that can affect your feline’s appetite. However, there are plenty of intrinsic causes that can cause a cat to lose its appetite. Chief among health-related concerns is anxiety or stress. 

Cats are vulnerable to a series of emotions and can experience anxiety for many reasons. It’s enough to leave your cat at home alone for long periods for it to develop stress, and that, in turn, can cause depression and inappetence. 

7. Stomach Upset

If your furball is experiencing a gastric upset for any reason (such as an infection or side-effect of medication), it can lose its appetite.

That’s simply because its digestive system has been affected and isn’t working at optimal conditions. But, once the bout of stomach upset is over, your kitten will resume eating as usual. 

8. Parasites

Cats are vulnerable to roundworm and tapeworm infestations. These are intestinal parasites and can cause your pet to experience anemia, diarrhea, vomiting, and going off food. That’s why you must be up-to-date with all your cat’s deworming medications/vaccinations. 

9. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis in felines occurs when the pancreas (an organ that assists in digestion and insulin production) becomes inflamed. The condition can affect cats of all ages and breeds.

It also tends to develop spontaneously without any apparent triggers, although it’s been linked to diabetes mellitus. Symptoms of pancreatitis in cats include decreased appetite, diarrhea, fever, lethargy, etc. 

10. Colitis 

Colitis is the scientific term for inflammation of the large intestine or colon. In cats, colitis can cause symptoms such as inappetence, diarrhea, mucus, blood in stool, etc. It can develop due to various reasons like viral infections, intestinal parasites, and food allergies. Treating colitis requires treatment of the underlying cause behind the inflammation. 

11. Dental Problems

If your furbaby has developed a tooth infection, mouth ulcers, or even inflamed gums – eating can become painful and cause your pet to stop eating. It’s always best to regularly check your cat’s mouth for signs of dental trouble and keep a good oral hygiene routine. 

If your cat is experiencing dental problems, it’s not very likely to let you touch its mouth – which can be a pretty good sign of such concerns. Take your feline for a check-up to the vet at the earliest to get the problem sorted. 

12. Constipation

Cats should poop at least once a day. If your feline hasn’t pooped in over a day or two, it may be experiencing constipation. 

Constipation in cats can develop due to a diet lacking fiber content or even excessive grooming (leading to a build-up of hair inside the digestive tract). Try mixing some canned pumpkin (puree) with your cat’s food to see if the problem resolves itself. If not, a visit to the vet is in order. 

13. Chronic Kidney Disease

Senior cars are vulnerable to developing chronic kidney disease (CKD), which can also cause a loss of appetite. CKD develops due to long-term damage to the kidneys, but its exact cause is unknown. 

It’s best to discuss any age-related health concerns with your veterinarian when your cat is approaching its senior years to keep an eye out for warning signals. CKD isn’t curable or reversible but can be managed through treatment and support to improve your pet’s quality of life. 

Is It Normal For Cats To Not Eat Or Drink

It’s not uncommon for felines to experience a decreased appetite due to a variety of reasons. For example, cats can stop eating or drinking due to stress & anxiety, change of routine, or a switch in diet. 

However, whether or not a cat’s loss of appetite is a cause of concern can also depend on whether it’s healthy or suffering from some illness. 

If your pet is healthy, not eating or drinking for one day may be fine, however, going off food for a sick cat should always prompt a visit to the vet to ensure your pet’s health doesn’t deteriorate further. 

What Do You Feed A Sick Cat With No Appetite?

Some sources on the internet may recommend tempting your sick cat with treats like liver to get it to eat. However, if your sick cat isn’t eating, your first and best source of advice should be your veterinarian. 

Your vet may be able to stimulate your pet’s appetite by devising a suitable diet regimen that will look after all your pet’s nutritional needs. Additionally, your vet may also prescribe appetite stimulants for your cat to improve its appetite. 

What Happens When A Cat Stops Eating And Drinking?

A healthy cat can survive up to a week without food and three days without drinking water. However, your feline refusing to eat for more than 48 hours should always be a cause for concern. 

Going off food for prolonged periods can be dangerous for felines because it can severely affect their health. When your pet doesn’t eat enough, its body starts relying on the stored fat reserves. However, before fat can be utilized for energy, it needs to be processed through the liver, which creates a danger of the liver becoming overpowered by the fat. This situation can lead to a condition referred to as hepatic lipidosis, and in severe cases, can lead to liver failure. 

How Long Does It Take For A Cat To Die Of Starvation?

It’s challenging to provide an accurate timeline of how long felines can safely survive not eating because it involves multiple factors. For instance, your cat’s health, age, activity level, etc., can all play a factor in how long it can remain safe without eating. 

Generally, healthy cats can survive for seven days without eating (and up to three days without water). However, if your cat has an underlying health condition or happens to be a senior, not eating for two days can put its life at risk. 

How Can I Get My Sick Cat To Eat And Drink?

There are several ways you can tempt your sick feline to eat or drink a little to ensure its nutritional needs are taken care of. If your vet approves, you can feed your cat high-energy and easily digestible food to make sure its energy levels stay up. 

Warming up the food slightly right before serving it to your feline may encourage it to eat because it helps your cat pick up the scent of food better. 

Sometimes, hand feeding your cat may also encourage your pet to eat. Finally, your vet may suggest feeding your pet liquid food via a syringe to look after its eating and drinking needs if the situation requires it. 

How Do You Comfort A Sick Cat?

Sick cats will often take to hiding in secluded spots, which is why you mustn’t force your pet to do anything it’s not comfortable with. 

It’s also a good idea to keep a supply of fresh water and the food bowl close to wherever your pet feels most comfortable. 

You can also try gently grooming your cat with a soft-bristled brush when it seeks you out to allow it to relax and get comfortable. Also, always make sure that your pet’s litter is clean because cats can sometimes refuse to use a dirty litter box. 

Things To Consider

Felines can be picky about food – which is why it isn’t always easy for pet parents to notice a decrease in appetite initially. 

However, there are warning signs that you should keep an eye out for regardless of your pet’s eating habits to make sure you catch inappetence early on and can give your furbaby the help it needs. Here are some red flags that you should investigate further.

●      Lethargy

The lethargy that accompanies a loss of appetite in cats should always concern cat parents, especially if your feline is usually energetic. Reduced hunger and laziness combined are generally the first few symptoms an ailing cat will display. It doesn’t mean that the illness is serious, but it highlights the presence of a health concern that you should investigate.

●      Disappearing For Long Periods

Cats are pretty self-sufficient, and some can even be aloof. That’s why when your feline takes to disappearing in its favorite hiding place; it doesn’t always ring alarm bells. 

However, if the pattern of hiding for extended periods increases – it can be a pretty good indicator that your cat isn’t feeling too brilliant. At times, hiding doesn’t mean your cat is physically ill, but there’s typically a reason behind such behavior, like anxiety or depression. 

In such cases, it’s a good idea for cat parents to closely watch their pets to understand what’s causing them to seek solitude. For example, if your cat suddenly develops a taste for hiding after you’ve shifted homes or are staying from home for longer – your cat’s likely feeling ignored or out-of-place and needs some reassurance and love. 

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