Pet Owners Ask: How Long Can Kittens Go Without Food?

How long can kittens go without food? For most cats, their survival rate without food is around 4 days. However, hardy kittens can endure a maximum of one week of starvation. If you’re worried about your kitten not eating, you must know what to do.

Conditions that may lead to kitten starvation

There could be a lot of reasons why kittens refuse eating for days. But one thing is for sure, you need to do something to save the little fella from dying. Like humans, kittens are meant to consume food to have energy. The following conditions can lead to starvation:

how long can kittens go without food
Depositphotos 47960719 L e1661242592867
Cute little red kittens playing on wicker mats background, outdoors

1. The mother isn’t around

It’s possible that the kitten was weaned too early from the mother or its mother died shortly after giving birth. Both are tragic stories, which also means that the kitten has no food source.

Since it’s a newborn, kittens can’t digest solid food yet. It only relies on the breastmilk of its mother to sustain its early life. So how long can newborn kittens go without eating as a newborn? Two days is already alarming; anything beyond that is fatal.

So how long can a mother cat be away from her newborn kittens? If the mama cat is the only source of food of the kittens, it can’t afford to go missing for a day.

2. The kitten won’t nurse

Even if the mother cat is around, there’s still a possibility that the kitten will not nurse. One reason for this is the mother cat rejecting a specific kitten within the litter. But for the most part, a kitten will fail to nurse if it can’t compete with its littermates in jockeying on their mama’s tummy.

In the end, what matters most is that you do something to prevent the kitten’s starvation and eventual death.

3. Failure to feed

If your kitten has been fully weaned from its litter, it’s your job to give the cat its food. Daily feedings are ideal since cats eat in small portions but frequent servings.

Remember that leaving your kitten behind with no food for days is utterly irresponsible. If you have to leave town for several days, I recommend that you re-home the kitten temporarily until you come back.

What to do if your kitten isn’t eating for days

Regardless of the reason why your kitten isn’t eating, you must do the following steps to prevent starvation:

1. Look for a foster mother cat

For cats that are less than 8 weeks old, you can look for a foster mother cat where it can nurse. You can call the veterinarian to ask for a potential candidate. A local shelter near you is also a good option.

Try to look for a lactating cat with a small litter. This way, your kitty won’t have to struggle just to suckle properly. Don’t worry if you can’t find a foster mother since there are other options you can use. If you don’t know how to take care of a newborn kitten without a mother, you can always consult a vet.

2. Consider bottle-feeding

Bottle feeding, so far, is the best option if your cat isn’t eating or its mother is no longer around to nurse the kitty. This is usually part of 4 week old kitten care and any age before the weaning age of 8 weeks.

What to feed newborn kittens in an emergency? For bottle-feeding, you should only use a kitten formula, because milk made for humans have lactose that cats can’t digest. You can also feed it with sweet water. Never feed a cold kitten because the fluids you will give may result in chills.

After preparing the small bottle with a kitten formula, wrap the kitten with a baby blanket. After that, hold the kitty near you so your body heat will warm it up. Keep rubbing the kitten gently for 30 minutes until its footpads are no longer cold.

Once the kitten is warm, you can administer the milk-filled bottle. Use a bottle with a small opening or better yet a needle-less syringe. You only need to feed the kitten small amounts every three hours.

Take note, too, that newborn kittens can’t defecate or urinate on its own. You need to stimulate them after feeding for proper elimination. learn more here how long should kitten eat kitten food

3. Consult a veterinarian

If this is your first time caring for a kitten that’s reluctant to eat or doesn’t have a mother to nurse, the vet is your go-to person. The veterinarian will advise about bottle feeding, stimulation, and other necessary care to keep the kitten well.

Consult a veterinarian

If your efforts to feed a cat didn’t prosper, you should bring it to the veterinarian right away before hypoglycemia sets in. This is the only way on how to save a newborn kitten from dying.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can kittens go without food?

Most kittens can last for up to four days without any food. This is a critical problem since a small kitten can easily succumb to hypoglycemia and liver failure.

Can a kitten go 12 hours without eating?

Kittens should only be left without food for a maximum of 4 hours. Anything beyond that will put the kitten at risk of hypoglycemia and experiencing chills.

How long can an 8 week old kitten go without food?

An 8 week old kitten can be fully weaned from its litter. It’s stronger and can eat and defecate on its own. The longest period an 8 week old kitten can go without food is about 8 hours or half a day at most.

How long can a cat not eat?

A grown-up cat can go without food for 48 hours as long as you provide them with fresh water. However, smaller cats can tolerate shorter non-feeding windows since they can only eat a small portion at a time.

Is it normal for my new kitten to not eat?

Kittens that refuse to eat may not be feeling well. They could be constipated, upset, or has intestinal parasites or a clogged nose. The list goes on, so it’s best to consult the veterinarian just to be sure. please read here why does my cat bite my nose
Is it normal for my new kitten to not eat?

Do cats abandon their kittens if you touch them?

Most cats will not abandon their kittens if you touch it. Some would even hide it away from you as the maternal instinct kicks in. Please read here How to Get a Cat out from under a car

Will a kitten starve itself?

Yes, kittens can starve itself to death, especially if it’s less than 8 weeks old. Some kittens may also have medical conditions that may affect its appetite and ability to digest food. Please read here why did my cat eat its kitten

Can kittens go all night without eating?

If properly fed throughout the day, a kitten can go by at night with no food. A kitten can last for up to 7 hours without food in that case.

What do you do if your new kitten won’t eat?

You can try bottle feeding the kitten as a form of force-feeding. You can also take the kitten to the vet for further examinations. learn more here How to force feed a cat
What do you do if your new kitten won't eat?


How long can kittens go without food? About four days is the average on most kittens before they starve to death. To prevent this, you must consult the veterinarian if your pet refuses to eat or nurse to its mother.

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