As cliché as it may sound, water and food are the fundamentals of keeping oneself alive and the same is with animals. Animals, however, are flexible and can live days without food or water sometimes, but it is wholly and solely dependent upon the animal’s nature, health and environmental conditions.
Cats, in general are low maintenance pets i.e. easy to take care of but when it comes to the basic necessities like food and water, they have some concerns. Unlike other animals, the cats’ body tissues comprise approximately 75% water, so you cannot afford them to be left dehydrated at any cost. Thus, if there is enough water but no food, a healthy cat can survive for days even in adverse conditions. Therefore, as a responsible cat owner, you should always keep track of their food and water intake.
Cats Consume Water from Their Food
A healthy mature cat typically needs between 3.5 ounces to 4.5 ounces per 5 pounds of their total body weight. In some circumstances, it doesn’t drink the water directly but maintain their water intake indirectly through the food they eat. Cats usually prefer taking wet foods (the chicken or beef broth or the formula milk that you feed it) and because of this new cat owners are mostly under the impression that cats don’t drink enough water.
A cat, however, sometimes refuses to drink water even if it’s thirsty because the water contains impurities. Therefore, you should provide them with pure, clean, and clear drinking water.
How Long Can Your Cat Go Without Food?
Like water, food is also a basic need for survival, but since cats can endure hunger more than thirst, it would be safe to say that healthy cats can live for around fourteen days without food if provided with ample water but this survival has its own cons. Like a man’s tired body during workout uses the stored fat for energy, similarly, the cat’s body uses the stored fats as energy to keep the organs functional.
This, in turn, causes a medical condition in cats called hepatic lipidosis which is a common liver disease observed when the cats go without food for a long period of time. It is evident from the fact that obese cats suffer the most from hepatic lipidosis as they have a better rate of survival without food.
As far as the question of how long a cat can go without food is concerned, it solely depends on the cat’s water intake and the internal and external environment.
How Long Can a Cat Survive Without Drinking Water?
Cats lose water more quickly than you think. Water is essential for carrying out all the body functions such as waste elimination, toxin reduction and carrying out other metabolic processes. Little or no water intake in cat means the disturbance of all the body functions which sometimes leads to crucial health and in the worst case, death of the cat. All in all, cats cannot survive long without drinking water.
How are Wild Cats Different from Domestic Cats?
A stray cat often gets lost in search of food and still manages to stay alive for days without food, whereas, the domestic cat barely gets hungry and the owner still finds ways to feed it as the house cats lack skills to hunt the meal on their own.
There are huge differences between wild and domestic cats but when it comes to water intake, wild cats are rarely dehydrated as they hunt their own food and are restricted carnivores. They get plenty of water from the food they hunt or eat, therefore; they don’t need water from additional sources unlike the domestic cats that truly depend on their owner for their food and might require water from additional sources such as formula milk or the chicken/beef broth.
However, if not taken care and precautions, both the cats can equally suffer from dehydration and might lose their life in 2-4 days. This proves that a cat can live days without food but not without water.
Causes of Dehydration in Healthy Cats
Any cat in its entire course of life can be dehydrated enough to be lethargic and vulnerable. However, older cats are more prone to dehydration than younger and healthy ones. But there are times when healthy cats suffer badly from dehydration and fall ill. Here are some of the reasons as to why your healthy cat can fall prey to dehydration.
- Diarrhea: A prolonged bout of diarrhea can cause the body to lose water more than it takes and this might be the reason of dehydration in young cats.
- Vomiting: Vomiting is the loss of fluid intake and can cause severe dehydration if not treated timely.
- Low water intake: Cats just like humans suffer from mood swings and don’t drink water for several reasons; either they are not well or the water doesn’t seem clean to the cats. Therefore, always offer your cat clean and most preferably running water and ensure the 24/7 availability of water or alternatives to the cats.
How Long Can a Cat Survive in Hunger or Dehydration?
Although it’s not a good practice to keep your pets hungry and thirsty for longer periods of time but there can be circumstances in which you have to compromise on either of the basic needs. The survivability of cats without food or water depends on different factors such as age, health, weight, accessibility to water, internal, and external environment. Therefore, the time of survival without food or water is indefinite.