Choosing the Right Vet for Your Pet

Why You Should Always See A Vet If Your Cat Has Gone Without Food Or Water

Whether your cat has been locked up in a neighbor's garage, hasn't had an appetite, or ran out of water while you were away at home, you should take your cat to a vet right away. Some pet parents decide that if their cat seems to be okay and that the cat isn't starving to death or clearly dehydrated, they'll be fine. However, the truth is, even brief periods of time without food or water and seriously harm a cat's health. Read on to learn how cats are affected by starvation and thirst, and why it's critical to see a vet.

The Two Risks of Starvation

If your cat is a healthy weight or carrying a few extra pounds, you might think that a day or two without food won't cause any serious harm. However, starvation can hurt your cat in two distinct ways.

Cats need an amino acid that's found in meat called taurine. Cat food is specially formulated to contain the amount of taurine that cats need, but when a cat doesn't eat, the body can't produce taurine on its own. Most importantly, a cat who is deprived of taurine may develop tooth decay, blindness, or even heart failure. On the other hand, if your cat is a bit plump, you might think they can survive off their fat stores. Unfortunately, cat's bodies aren't designed to store large quantities of fat. If your cat burns its own fat to survive during a period of starvation, they might develop fatty liver disease, because cats' livers aren't designed to handle that amount of fat.

Thirst and Kidney Damage

One of the most common health problems that cats develop is kidney disease. While scientists aren't entirely sure why cats are more prone to this disease than other species, extreme dehydration can severely harm the kidneys. Simply drinking water once your cat has access to liquids isn't enough to stop or reverse the damage.


Seeing a vet during or immediately after your cat has undergone a lack of food or water can potentially save their lives, or reduce their risk of health problems in the years to come. Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination, listen to what happened to your cat, and get to work giving your cat nutrients and saline through a syringe or IV. This rush of pure nutrients and hydration can potentially prevent your cat's organs from being damaged and reduce the stress their bodies are undergoing.

A lot can go wrong in a cat's body during a short period of starvation and dehydration. If your cat has gone through any kind of situation where they didn't have access to food and water or wouldn't consume them, go to an emergency veterinarian right away.