Cats can last a short while without food and can potentially survive for weeks without eating. Water is far more necessary to their health and physical well-being however, and a cat that goes more than a few days without anything to drink might not survive.
If you're worried that a cat hasn't been eating or drinking, and it's not showing any signs of being starved or dehydrated, then try offering it a can of tuna water - don't buy the tuna in oil - and see if you can encourage them to drink that way. Not only the water will hydrate them, it'll also contain some much-needed nutrients from the fish. Otherwise, you should take the animal to a vet. The consequences of inadequate food and water can be dire.
Why? A cat who hasn't eaten for a while is considered to be starving, and starvation may have a damning physical effect on the cat's entire system. The same is true of dehydration, only the onset of dehydration is much quicker - and far more severe - than that of starvation.
Every organ in the feline body relies on water and the nutritional content of food to properly function. Every single one. Starved and dehydrated organs will steal energy and water from the rest of the cat's body, a process that slows as the cat's bloodstream becomes less liquid itself. When feline organs lack sufficient food and fluids to function on the most basic level, they dry up and begin to shut down. Not only could this send the body into shock, it might cause irreversible damage to the cat's organs. If a starving and/or dehydrated cat does not receive swift treatment, it may face permanent health issues - if it survives at all.
These are uncomfortable thoughts. They're scary. But it's important to state them as blankly as possible because you never want to take chances with a cat's intake of food and water.
My girlfriend accidentally locked my cat in the bedroom for 4 days while we were on vacation. We came back to find my cat still alive and walking around, very upset, hungry and thirsty. We came home to find her yesterday and she seems fine today. I'm calling this a miracle.
Someone's cat accidently got closed in a small storage room on my patio that I rarely go in to. 4 weeks later I opened the door to look for something and that cat was still alive, and there was absolutely no food or water in there. I put out some dry food & water about once a week for all the stray, abandoned, and ferrel cats around here, and had just filled the bowl before I opened the door & that cat drank and ate a bunch before taking off. It had no collar so probably was a stray.
It is not a good sign if your cat refuses water for more than 12-24 hours. They can become dehydrated very quickly. Also cats can develop a secondary problem called hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) when they do not eat. This is a very serious complication. If your cat stops eating or drinking take it to a veterinarian for diagnostics and supportive care.
Cats are considered semi-arid animals, which means they don't need a great deal of water to survive. They tend to get most of their water from the food they eat, so you don't usually see cats drinking much water unless they're ill.
I would have my cat at the vet if he/she didn't eat for 3-4 days. Cats are not large animals, and they can lose weight very quickly. A cat that doesn't eat, is usually a sick cat.
Any cat that I've had, loves canned food. The best thing I've found, is to give them a mixture of both kinds of food. I always provide dry food throughout the day, and give them diluted canned food at night. With about 10 minutes of fast paced play, and a belly full of canned food, you can usually have a good night's rest without being bothered by kitty a 3 a.m.
I wont say they should stay without food, but cats do tend to be more resourceful when it comes to acquiring their own food.(from the neighbours, birds, rodents, anything they can find... Meaning they might not return to you if the neighbours are giving them more food than you)
They can be without food for short periods of time, but no animal should be left without water.
If the animal has been left without food for longer than 2 week, it should
be taken to the vet just to check if everything is still ok.
Dry food is a better option, but they are carnivores, so wet food is also good for them. Try giving them a "balance of both".
Wet food tastes better, but the roughage in the dry foods are good for digestion.
Cats can go for a week without food but need water every day. This is more like what a wild cat would cope with. Always make sure they have sufficient good water not from the tap loaded with all those chemicals.
You really don't want your cat to go without food so be sure he's not ill. They can drop weight very quickly especially if they are small. It will be noticeable soon. If he's not eating and you are noticing other behavior changes he might have a tooth or gum problem or infection which could make it painful to eat. Pay attention to his/her behavior so you are on top of something before it gets out of hand.
A cat has the capacity to go without food for several days at a stretch. It might lose 40 percent of her body weight but would still manage to survive. But it can survive for a long time without water. Dehydration is a serious issue with cats. Cats are very prone to this condition and in extreme cases it may prove to be fatal. If the cat loses 10 to 15 percent of water from its body then the cat may die. Therefore it is necessary that the water content in a cat's body is maintained.
Food is also an important source of water in cats. They also prefer fresh food to dry foods. Therefore fresh foods are an important part in a cat's diet. But yet it is a proven fact that a cat can go without food and survive for much longer than humans but it is entirely different case with water.
Make sure your cat isn't eating elsewhere! Our cat has a 2nd home, they must have better food!
Dry is better for cats (helps keep their teeth) but they seem to like moist from my experience better.