How Long Can a Kitten
Go Without Food?

how long can a kitten go without food

March 24, 2022

backed by bets

In addition to wanting to know everything about your kitty’s nutritional needs and how to offer it a balanced diet, there are many reasons why you might want to know how long kittens can go without food.

You might have questions like:

  • How long can a kitten survive without eating?
  • Reasons why your kitten may not be eating
  • How to get a kitten to eat

This article will address all these questions and help kitten owners become better informed about the risks related to your kitten refusing to eat -and what you can do about it.

Let’s take a look at how long a kitten can go without eating.

Reasons To Be Concerned About Your Kitten’s Eating

If you’re wondering how long a kitten can go without food, you’re probably worried about a kitten that has gone missing or your kitty is refusing to eat for some reason. Or, maybe you’re on a trip with your kitten or trying to figure out how long you can leave your tiny feline friend alone in the house.

Your kitten is missing

Cats have a strong sense of self-preservation, and it is not uncommon to hear stories of cats that were reported missing coming home days or even weeks later, having lived on their own. Adult cats may be able to find food for themselves, but for kittens, it is a different matter.

If your kitten is missing and out on the streets or in the wild, it needs to find food to survive. Small kittens do not know how to do this, so you need to find them as soon as possible.

Your kitten suddenly refuses to eat

On the other hand, your kitten may suddenly refuse to eat the normal cat food you have been offering. This can be due to many reasons, including dental issues, stress, constipation, or upset tummy.

Even a slight change in the food, feeding schedule, or location of the food bowl may affect your kitty. Cats are sensitive creatures, and it is quite common for them to reject their food for one reason or another.

You’re leaving your kitten alone for a longer period of time

If you’re taking a trip with your kitten, you may not be able to provide them with food for some time. Or, maybe you need to leave your kitten home alone for a longer period than usual.

In any case, it is important to know how long a kitten can go without food.

kittens without food

How Long Can a Kitten Go Without Eating?

Normally, a kitten will eat several times a day, depending on its age. Also, a small kitten under the age of 6-8 weeks still needs its mother’s milk, while an older kitten already eats commercial kitten food.

Depending on the age and health of the kitten, it may survive without food only as little as 12 hours, or even up to four days.

Because kittens are such fragile creatures, you need to get them eating as soon as possible. If they go without eating for longer than what is accepted at their age, they will quickly become weak, malnourished, and may need veterinary care.

But how long can kittens go without food at different ages? Let’s have a look.

How Long Can a Kitten Survive Without Food?

The length of time a kitten can go without eating food depends on its age, size, and health.

The smaller the kitten is, the more frequently it needs to feed. Kittens have tiny stomachs and high energy requirements, so they must be fed often and with small amounts of food. Therefore, a small kitten will suffer more quickly from not getting the nutrients they need.

  • A healthy newborn kitten can only survive about 12 hours without its mother’s milk. Still, it is very important to get the kitten feeding on the mother’s milk or kitten replacement formula as soon as possible. Every hour counts, so try to get the kitten eating and consult a vet asap.
  • A kitten that is a little older and in good health may be able to go without food for about 2-4 days.Again, keeping your kitty without food that long is not advised, even if they might survive without complications.
  • Generally, an adult cat may be able to go without food for up to two weeks. Again, this only applies to healthy cats and should never be done intentionally.

The estimates presented above only apply to healthy animals that have access to water and shelter. Even if a kitten can theoretically live this long without food, not getting the nutrients they need will lead to worsening malnutrition and deteriorating health very quickly.

If you notice your kitten is not eating, you should contact a vet immediately to find out why it might be refusing food and how you can help.

Keep in mind that it is important that kittens are provided with food suitable for their size and age. This is something that cannot be stressed enough.

For example, newborn kittens are completely dependent on their mother’s milk in the early stages of their lives to obtain the nutrients they need to survive. After being weaned, kittens need high-quality kitten food and a balanced diet to stay happy and healthy

When Should I Worry About My Kitten Not Eating?

If your young kitten is not eating, it’s time to take him or her to the veterinarian for evaluation.

Newborns and kittens under the age of 6 weeks need veterinary attention within 12 hours if they stop eating. They are at risk of developing hypoglycemia if they are not fed several times a day.

Older kittens need to be taken to the vet if they haven’t eaten for 24 hours.

In particular, if your kitten shows any other signs of being sick, like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or stomach pain, you should get it checked out.

There are several reasons which could cause your kitten to lose its appetite, and we’ll get to that next.

4 Reasons Why Your Kitten May Not Be Eating

Kittens are constantly growing and developing, which is why they need a lot of food. On the other hand, they have small mouths and stomachs, so you will need to feed them small portions many times a day.

Because kittens need food several times a day, you should be alarmed if they stop eating. Here are some of the most common reasons why your kitten may be refusing food:

1. Respiratory Problems

Cats with respiratory problems such as respiratory infections caused by viruses or bacteria may not be able to smell or breathe well because their airways clog up with discharge.

When cats have a hard time breathing and smelling the food, they may refuse to eat. In such a case, it is important to take your cat to the vet to find out what is causing the symptoms and whether your cat needs medication.

2. Digestive Issues

Your cat’s refusal to eat might be the result of issues with its stomach, intestines, pancreas, or any other part of the digestive system. In addition to having digestive troubles, your cat may vomit, have diarrhea, or feel discomfort in the stomach area. Sometimes, the reason for refusing food may also be an impaction.

The loss of appetite is generally one of the earliest indicators of a problem with the digestive tract. Irritable bowel syndrome, tumors in the intestines, an imbalance in the bacteria in the digestive tract, parasites, GI obstructions, and other issues may all cause your cat to lose its appetite.

If your kitten is not eating, a visit to the vet is critical to rule out an obstruction in the intestinal tract. You should never force-feed a cat until your vet says it’s safe.

3. Dental or Oral Problems

Your kitten may stop eating if its teeth or mouth hurt.

Kittens can break a tooth and have resorptive lesions on their teeth. They can even develop infections of the gums, create dental abscesses, or suffer from various dental diseases that cause oral discomfort.

If your kitten is suffering from any of the conditions mentioned above, it might not want to eat. Again, a visit to the veterinary clinic is needed to help your kitten with whatever the problem is that is causing the lack of appetite.

4. The Food You Give Your Kitten

Cats may be picky when it comes to their food. Due to personal preference, it is possible for a cat to like one taste of the same brand but entirely reject a different flavor.

Sometimes, food manufacturers alter the ingredients and taste of pet foods without clearly stating it on the label, which may lead to a cat refusing what you think is their everyday food. Even slight changes in the taste and smell of the food may cause your cat to reject it.

Your cat may also be attracted to some specific consistencies and textures, which is something to keep in mind. For example, some kittens like wet food, while others prefer it dry and crunchy.

How to Get a Kitten to Eat Food –
5 Practical Tips To Try At Home

If your kitten suddenly lost interest in eating, the first step you should take is to attempt to coax her back to her food bowl by offering her treats.

If you can’t coax your kitten to start eating, you should contact a vet immediately for further advice.

Sometimes, a kitten won’t eat because she doesn’t like the particular food or how she’s being fed. Making a few simple changes could help your kitten start eating as it used to.

1. Experiment with different foods

To see if you can tempt your kitten to eat, try feeding a mixture of both dry and wet food with various tastes and textures. Some cats like pate food, while others prefer to consume food only if it has gravy!

You can try some of your kitten’s favorite foods and treats or even get a can or pouch of a new, enticing flavor to try. Getting your kitten to take even a small bite may get them eating.

2. Warm up the food

Warm up the food to make it more aromatic; however, be cautious of not overheating it. You should always check the temperature before feeding to make sure there are no hot spots that could burn your kitten’s mouth.

3. Feed your cat in a calm environment.

Try feeding your kitten in a quiet and undisturbed area, and leave your kitten to feed alone. Some kittens, particularly those that are frightened or timid, may refuse to eat while humans or other animals are present.

4. Ensure the food dish is clean

Leftover bits of food may easily start to grow germs and mold, resulting in bacteria buildup and an unappealing dinner. Your cat may smell the muck on the dish and refuse to eat because of it.

5. The shape of the food dish

Make sure to choose a dish that is broad but not deep so that your cat can easily get to the food. Some cats do not like to get their whiskers dirty, so they might refuse to eat from a deep or narrow bowl.

If you can’t get your kitten to eat with these tricks or by offering them their favorite food, you need to consult a vet for further assistance.

Bottom Line – How Long Can Kittens Go Without Food?

It is important that your kitten is fed regularly according to an age-appropriate schedule and with suitable food. You should never skip meals intentionally, especially with small kittens.

Kittens may be able to live without food for short periods, but feeding them regularly will ensure proper growth and good health. If you have a kitten that is not eating, it is important to get them to eat as soon as possible. If you can’t coax your kitten to start eating, you should contact a vet immediately for further advice.

Often, you may need to help your kitten eat while they recover from an illness and start feeding on their own. If you need to force-feed a small kitten, check out our guide on Syringe Feeding a Kitten.

Vet’s Comment

NOTE: Advice provided within this article by is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your pet’s specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

Scroll to Top