How Long Can a Cat Go Without Water and Food?

We all know how important hydration and nutrition are not just for us humans but for our pets, too. Just like you, your feline pet may sometimes feel blue which may result in appetite issues. You may be asking-is my kitty sick or is it just a temporary problem? Of course, it worries you and you probably wonder how long can a cat go without water and food?

What’s causing the change in appetite and what are the effects of lack of hydration and nutrients to your kitty’s overall well-being? Is your cat not eating or drinking for more than a day? What should you do about it?

Together, let us explore the topic of how long can a cat go without eating and drinking.

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How Long Can a Cat Go Without Water?

Whatever the reason is, it is not safe if your cat does not drink enough. Water is important because it affects proper organ function, digestion, circulation, and transport of nutrients. Having said that, how long can a cat go without water? It depends on the age and the overall condition of your cat.

A young and healthy cat’s body consists of 70% water, given that state, it can survive for 4 to 5 days without water. As your cat gets older, the lesser the liquid is in the body. This means dehydration is faster for older cats as their internal water reserves are scarce.

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How Much Water Does Your Cat Need?

As a fur parent, one of the things you do each day is to leave a bowl of freshwater for your cat. Unless you are a super conscientious person, you do not go through the motion of measuring the amount of water you replenish for your cat, right?

That being said, do you know exactly how much water your baby needs? It’s easier with food because there’s a recommended amount based on the weight and age of your cat.

Let us find out the factors that dictate the amount of water needed by your cat:

1. Weight

Large breed cats like Birman and Persian cats need more water than smaller breeds like Siamese and Munchkin. In case you care for cats with differing sizes, don’t be surprised if you see your bigger fellow ‘gulping’ more water than the little ones.

2. Food Type

What kind of food do you serve for your kitty? Is it the dry or the wet type? If you give the dry type, then you should provide your pet with more water. Why? Because your cat will be chewing crunch and will take a bit longer to finish its dry food.

Not only that, the dry or kibble food only contains an average of 7-12% moisture as compared to the moisture content of wet food which is around 70-80%. Such a huge difference.

3. Age

Elderly cats can get dehydrated faster than young ones. Thus, older cats need to drink more.

4. Weather

Is your cat an indoor or outdoor cat? An indoor cat will survive longer without water compared to those living outside, especially during the summer season. Though outdoor cats hunt and receive water from their prey, still, if the temp is scorching hot, cats cannot go without water for long days.

How Do You Know If your Cat Is Drinking Sufficient Water?

Let’s do small math- For instance, a cat weighs 10 pounds and eats dry food, then it should consume one cup of water a day.

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On the other hand, if your cat eats wet food, it requires less water – 2/3 cup of water is sufficient for a 10-pound pussycat.

There is another way of computing:

Give 20 to 40 ml of water for every kilogram of body weight. Multiply the weight of your cat to 0.03. Then multiplied by 1000. So for example, if your cat weighs 7 kilos, it should drink about 210 ml of water each day.

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What Happens If a Cat Go a Day (or Longer) Without Water?

If you fail to give your cat fresh water,  you can see some of these symptoms:

  • Since your pussycat is already dehydrated, do not expect it to be lively and playful as it used to be. One of the effects of dehydration is lethargic behavior.
  • Cats have a beautiful set of eyes, but a cat not eating or drinking would have eyes that look dull and sunken.
  • And those pink lips will become dry and dark red if a cat is not eating or drinking well.
  • One of the outcomes of a cat not consuming a healthy amount of water is reduced blood supply in its body. As a result, your cat’s heart will work faster and harder than usual which can lead to heart failure.
  • Try pinching in between your pet’s shoulders for elasticity test. Then pull the skin upwards and then release. If your pet’s skin takes longer than one-second to get back in place, then that is a sure sign of dehydration.

It is safe for us to say then that it is a mortal sin to leave your cat without water for an extended number of days.

Dehydration, if left untreated will lead to the death of your pet.

Why Your Cats Go Without Water?

We know that you do not intend to leave your pet without water. But what are the common reasons why some cats do not drink:

1. Your Cat Is Sick

Like you, a cat without eating or drinking while under the weather is common. It’s okay if a cat does not want some food but not without water.

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2. Your Cat Is Choosy

Do you spoil your cat too much? It is possible that your pet will not drink if you change its water dish. Or maybe the water in the dish is not freshly replenished. It could also be the water is not running. In short, your cat has idiosyncrasies and if you do not give in to its whims, it won’t drink.

3. You Delegated the Task to the Wrong Person

Unfortunately, you trusted too much. All the while you thought your kitty was in good hands. Sadly, she was not that and that led to dehydration.

4. Your Cat Is Feeling Its Age

Keep an eye on your senior cat not eating or drinking. Be sure that the water bowl can be easily accessed. If it is too low or high, your cat’s dexterity may not be as it used to be.

Now, let us tackle the issue of how long can a cat go without eating. Can your pet survive longer if it consumes water but snob its food?

How Long Can Cats Go Without Food?

You do not need to worry too much in case your pet does not touch its food for as long as it is drinking water. Your cat can survive for two weeks without food provided that your pet continuously drinks water.

When your cat stops eating, its body will rely on its fat reserve for energy.

However, in case your cat does not want to eat and drink, then it will not survive for a week. There is a major difference between your cat not eating and your cat not drinking in terms of damage done in the vital organs.

Let’s say that your cat does not show any interest in its food. The consequence would be lethargy because there are not enough nutrients in its body. But the moment it touches its food again, its energy will normalize again and you’d see your feline pet back on its feet.

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In contrast, in case your cat stops drinking water, it will have a damaging effect on its organs. Dehydration results in kidney, liver, and other organ failures. If dehydration extends, then severe organ damage is inevitable that can result in death.

How Long Can a Sick Cat Go Without Water and Food?

Healthy cats can make it without food for one week or more while without water for 3 to 7 days. But such is not the case if your feline pet is sick. Its weak body compounded with either starvation or dehydration will only survive for less than 3 days.

A sick cat should not be without water for 24 hours.

Water assists in the proper blood flow to ensure that the vital organs are functioning well. If your cat does not want to drink or eat while sick, it will not get better at all.

What about the food? How long can a sick cat go without having its food? A sick cat should not be without food for 48 hours.

If your kitty is unwell and does not eat its food, malnutrition is a possibility plus the worsening of its medical condition.

And, if your sick pet continues to shoo away its food, the chance of hepatic lipidosis is high.

This is a liver condition wherein the body uses fat reserve to survive. But you have to understand that your cat’s system is not designed for this. The liver will work harder to process fat. A few of the signs of hepatic lipidosis are jaundice, diarrhea, vomiting, and drooling.

How to Encourage Eating and Drinking?

We have some advice that can encourage your pet to drink more:

  • Place water bowls of different shapes and sizes around your home. Why? Because some cats are more attracted to large water bowls as these resemble clean lakes.
  • Distinguish your cat’s preference for water-does it prefers cold or hot or room temp water?
  • If a cat were to choose, it would select glass or ceramic over metal or plastic water bowl. In short, your cat may be a bit ‘quirky’ when it comes to the material of the water bowl.
  • Some cats prefer to drink running water and not still. This is why we recommend that you look for a cat fountain drinker.
  • Maybe a cat is asking for milk instead of water.
  • Healthy treats like fresh watermelon and frozen fruits or broth are awesome ways to stay hydrated.
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How to encourage your pet to eat?

  • If you are feeding dry food, try adding some water from a tuna can or anchovies for flavor.
  • Try warming the food in a microwave for a few seconds. Nobody wants a cold meal.
  • Let your cat eat alone, away from your other pets.
  • Try hand feeding your pet especially if it is sick.
  • If a cat is in a dry food diet, you may want to shift to a wet food diet. Or you can mix the dry and the wet food.

This is what you can do for a cat not eating or drinking:

  • If it is mildly dehydrated, give it a small amount of electrolyte solution like Pedialyte every 10 minutes for an hour.
  • Do your best to dropper feed your cat.
  • In case a cat is vomiting, licking ice chips will do the trick.

But for severe dehydration, rush your pet to the Vet to save its life.


Once you have decided to bring a kitty to your home, it is your responsibility to make sure that your feline pet is receiving the proper amount of nutrition and hydration. By knowing how long can a cat go without water and food can help you plan your holidays without your cat in tow.

You have to remember that prolonged lack of food can cause damage to its liver. That being said, you must never leave your cat alone without something to eat and drink.

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