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How Many Hours Can A Cat Go Without Eating Before It Becomes Dangerous?

Discussion in 'Cat Health' started by smosmosmo, May 23, 2019.

  1. smosmosmo

    smosmosmo Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    I've been trying to get Smo to start eating wet food again, after an ER visit last Friday. She was showing cystitis-like symptoms from dehydration caused by refusing wet food. I've been trying to get her to eat some wet food every day since then, and trying different flavors from different brands each time. I literally have 30 different kinds of wet food right now and am opening them up just to have her take one or two licks (if I'm lucky) then walk away. Once she walks away, she's done - the food will sit there until it dries up.

    Needless to say, I am very frustrated. The ER visit cost $700 so I can't be wasting food like this. I'm desperate not to have her cystitis symptoms reoccur, but she refuses to eat any wet food apart from meat puree treats (which are basically pureed fish with no added vitamins). I've tried to withhold her dry food during the day so she builds up an appetite, but she is being very stubborn and is still refusing wet food. At this point I can tell she's sick of me putting a new plate of wet food in front of her every few hours, and just wants her kibble back.

    I know that I should probably take it slow to not stress her out, but the cystitis flared up after a few weeks of not eating any wet food - it's important she start eating at least a couple ounces of wet every day, and ASAP. To the point, how long can I withhold food from her without risking hepatic lipidosis? Right now we're going on five or six hours without any dry food and she's still refusing to even taste the wet food I put in front of her.
     

  2. denice

    denice Advisor Staff Member Advisor

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    You need to feed her whatever she will eat. There are a lot of factors involved in how long it takes a cat to develop liver issues but it can happen in as little as three days.

    Cats will not eat something they don't want to eat when they get hungry enough. The issue often is that they don't recognize something as food, it is a survival mechanism from the wild. They learn what is safe to eat as small kittens from their mother. There are some tricks to get a cat to eat wet food but it is a process. If you were free feeding get her used to meals with the dry first. Then start with a topper of food that she does eat well. You will probably start with more topper then wet food then slowly change the ratio.
     

  3. smosmosmo

    smosmosmo Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    What's odd is that for about a year, she would at least eat some wet food if it was blended smooth and fish-flavored - I've never seen her act this picky before. I was able to get her to eat some wet food for a few days after her recent vet visit, but as the week's progressed she hasn't wanted to eat it at all. I do plan on getting her on timed meals but as I understand, that can be quite a process - even longer when you're then introducing wet food. I don't know if she can afford to go that long without getting some moisture in from wet food.

    I can't figure out what the issue is here. I know she loves fish, so everything I'm feeding contains either tuna or salmon. I've tried blending everything into a mousse texture since she hates chunks, shreds and pates, and I'm topping everything with Inaba Churu meat paste or finely-crushed treats. If I'm lucky she'll eat some of one kind of food, then refuse to touch it the next day.
     

  4. tabbytom

    tabbytom Happiness is being owned by a cat Staff Member Mentor

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    When did she last ate? If it's 5 to 6 hours from her last meal, it's pretty ok.

    Here's an article for you to read and here are some suggestions on why your cat is not eating and do click on the links the article to see if any of the following is causing your cat not to eat :-

    why-has-my-cat-stopped-eating-and-is-it-dangerous.32998
     

  5. smosmosmo

    smosmosmo Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    The most I've withheld food is about six hours, and I've only done that a handful of times. She's already eating less dry food since I'm mixing in kibble she doesn't like as much with her regular stuff (which she overate), so I don't like letting her go longer without food. I'm thinking of putting more of the kibble she ate too much of in her bowl, since I don't know if she's eating enough. The article you linked said they need a cup a day but she's not eating that much.

    She's a healthy cat apart from the recent urinary issues, so I think this mostly has to do with her not liking the food I put out. An hour ago I served her some Applaws cat food (basically tuna in fish broth) topped with Inaba Churu, and she licked off the broth and maybe took one small bite of tuna. I just wish she would eat a little more. I don't even need her to be on a 100% wet diet, I know that's too much to ask from a cat who spend five years eating only kibble. But she really does need that couple ounces of wet food, especially now that I know she's prone to cystitis when she's dehydrated.
     

  6. tabbytom

    tabbytom Happiness is being owned by a cat Staff Member Mentor

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    At least she's licking off some juice and took a few bites of the tuna.

    Is she an adult now? If yes, she does not be eating that much food as long as the daily intake of calories are met which is 200 - 250 calories a day for indoor cats.

    Wet for is good as they keep the cat hydrated if not find a way to interest her to drink more water.

    Just keep an eye and observe for a while and if not, check with the vet again.

    Hope she eats her normal meal soon.
     

  7. LTS3

    LTS3 TCS Member Staff Member Forum Helper

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    No more than 48 hours without food.

    If your cat won't eat wet food, then give her the dry food. Use these tips to encourage water intake while you keep trying to get some wet food into the diet:

    Tips To Increase Your Cat’s Water Intake
    Feline Idiopathic Cystitis - How To Improve Your Cat's Quality Of Life

    Tips to transition dry food addicts to other food:

    Transitioning Your Cat From Kibble To A New Type Of Food (canned, Raw, Or Homemade)
    http://www.catinfo.org/docs/TipsForTransitioning1-14-11.pdf
     
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  8. smosmosmo

    smosmosmo Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    @tabbytom Yes, I'm glad she ate at least a little bit. She now eats about a half cup of dry food per day, which adds up to about 250 calories - it's good to know she's not starving herself. If anything I think she was overeating when I fed her the grain-free high-protein kibble she eats too much of. I guess it's a good thing she'll at least lick up some wet food some of the time. I wonder what makes her decide to eat it at all, since she'll sometimes eat a wet food that she turns her nose up at the next day. I do have about 25 different containers of wet food to go through so let's hope she can tolerate at least one of them.

    @LTS3 Thank you so much for those links - I had a couple posts on transitioning to wet food bookmarked, but couldn't find anything that detailed. I'm doing most of the things mentioned in the post on increasing water intake, but we're going to add in a ceramic water fountain to see if that will encourage her to drink more. I think a timed feeder would also be a good idea since Smo seems to drink more water when kibble isn't available.
     

  9. Kflowers

    Kflowers TCS Member Top Cat

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    most cats don't like cold food - refrigerated from yesterday. Many don't like re-heated food. Cluing into this is why the pet food companies make the one serving size cans.
     
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  10. Mamanyt1953

    Mamanyt1953 Rules my home with an iron paw Staff Member Forum Helper

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    At least she is eating something, so we don't have to worry about hepatic lipidosis. Is she drinking enough water? Hekitty can be tempted with "tuna soup" (water drained from a tuna can) even if she doesnt' touch the actual tuna.
     

  11. Jem

    Jem TCS Member Top Cat

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    My cat became anorexic after a bout of cystitis. He (before the cystitis) ate a mix of dry and wet. When he vet told me to feed him a certain food, and stop feeding the dry kibble I was using, he then refused to eat anything, even the wet food he had previously eaten without issue. He was anorexic for over a month, only eating about a table spoon of food a day. He went from being 14 pounds down to 6 pounds, thankfully, zero liver issues. We were going to vet at a minimum of once a week and NOTHING helped to get him eating again. SO MANY tests!!!
    After spending almost 5000.00 on him, because the vet refused to believe that he was just being stubborn, and after yet another quote from her for over 900.00 for more tests, I said (in my head) [email protected]#K IT!, and went and bought his old food. As soon as I got home, I presented him with a bowl of it, his eyes dilated sooo big, and he ATE THE WHOLE THING! After a few days, he started eating wet food again. My boy was being the most stubborn old man ever!

    I would try to "reset" his thinking. Give him his old food that he liked. Let him eat that (on a schedule, maybe 3 meals a day?) for a few days, then maybe add a bit of one of his favorite wet foods mixed in one of his feedings of the day, gradually adding a bit more to that feeding and possibly a bit to another of his feedings. If he knows he has access to his old food he may be willing to eat other things (like mine did).
     
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  12. smosmosmo

    smosmosmo Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    @Kflowers I always reheat the food to bring it to room temperature before serving, since Smo has never eaten more than half a container of 3 oz food. She didn't use to have a problem with this, and would at least try food I put in front of her that was fresh out of the can. Maybe she's getting sick of me plonking random food in front of her several times a day, I don't know. I just gave her some Natural Balance tuna in broth and she licked her lips like she wanted to try it but walked away.

    @Mamanyt1953 She's not drinking as much I'd like her to, and since she stopped eating any wet food a couple days ago the time between pees has gotten longer. That worries me. Right now we're going on 9 hours without a visit to the litterbox and she hasn't pooped in 36 hours. She was doing okay when I was getting her to eat a bit of wet food, but the changes are pretty noticeable when she doesn't have any. How often do you feed the tuna water?

    @Jem Okay, I think you might have hit the nail on the head? I can tell she's grouchy about the food change but is eating begrudgingly when she gets hungry. After we got home from the vet I started mixing her old Purina food with her usual Tiki Cat because she really overeats the Tiki kibble. She's been modulating her appetite well, doesn't make 10 visits to the bowl per hour anymore, but maybe she's going on some version of a hunger strike - not enough to starve but she's definitely eating less (1/2 cup daily vs 1 cup). The kibble change, constant different wet foods and the stress of the cystitis/vet visit might all be too much for her to process. I'm going to try what you suggested - first measure out a half cup of her old kibble and divide it into portions, then try mixing in bits of wet food with that during timed feedings. She is definitely a stubborn cat like your boy - I hope he's doing much better now. Have you gotten yours to start eating wet food regularly after this process?
     

  13. Mamanyt1953

    Mamanyt1953 Rules my home with an iron paw Staff Member Forum Helper

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    You can give a can every couple of days. But if she hasn't pooped in 36 hours, she should probably be seen by the vet again. You do NOT want her to rupture her bowel. I know she isn't eating much, and this might be the cause, but don't take that chance!
     
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  14. smosmosmo

    smosmosmo Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    So I just dumped out her Purina/Tiki Cat kibble mix and measured out two tablespoons of just the Tiki Cat into a fresh bowl. She kept walking away from me when I put the bowl in front of her, and would only eat kibble I put on the floor like a treat. Is it possible she's begun to have a negative association with...bowls???

    I left her by herself for a half hour or so and she's eaten about a tablespoon of kibble out of the bowl, so hopefully in a few days she'll realize I'm not trying to trick her by putting crappy food in it. I've been serving her Inaba Churu straight out of the tube, so I'm also going to try placing just that in a bowl like I used to do.

    Fingers crossed that this works. @Jem, how long did it take your boy to start eating normally again once you replaced his old food?
     
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  15. Kflowers

    Kflowers TCS Member Top Cat

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    What mine liked when I had a group was different flavors of Friskies at every meal - chicken for breakfast, beef for dinner etc. With a batch there was no re-heating. When I just had two girl cat liked chicken, boy cat (neutered) liked beef. But they would eat. I think that sometimes competition eating helps.

    I think you are looking for what your kit likes, which is good, but you aren't really giving her a chance to think about the different meals before you replace them with another. Cats seem to think things out slowly, except for jumps. were I you, I'd give her the same thing for breakfast a couple of days in a row, while giving her what you know she'll eat for dinner.

    Actually, if I were you, I'd just give her what she's willing to eat and offer the new stuff as a treat, a side dish. Don't let her see that you're hoping she'll eat it.

    One time when we ran out of cat food and weren't to be paid until the next day, so we were down to pancake mix for us, we made pancakes for the cats and put it in their bowls. They buried it. We put the same pancakes on the counter. During the night one or more of them ate the pancakes. After that we always kept extra cat food.
     
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  16. Jem

    Jem TCS Member Top Cat

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    With my boy, it was pretty much instant (sort of). He started eating his kibble without issues. After a few days, he would eat his serving of wet I gave him. Although I never mixed the wet and dry, that would have been my next step. Just him having access to his old food was enough to get him eating again. It took about a year to find a better food option for him that he would eat in kibble form, (I'm so glad companies offer samples!!!) but he never stopped eating the wet food offerings during that time. As long as he had his kibble as an option, he would eat any wet food I offered him.

    It was nearly 5 years ago that Chewy had his cystitis, and unfortunately he now has passed away (end of last year) from a completely unrelated issue. He did recover perfectly from his cystitis though, and we never had any issues with eating, until the weeks leading to his passing (cancerous tumor in his throat). And please don't feel bad about asking about him. He was a wonderful kitty and lived a long, happy and healthy life. His only issues were his one bout of cystitis/anorexia and the cancer in the end. He passed at the age of 18.

    One thing you can try if you don't mind the mess is feed your girl off the floor. I have also heard from several people here that paper plates seem to work well to get a kitty to eat.
     
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  17. Jem

    Jem TCS Member Top Cat

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    One more thing that I forgot to mention that stood out...
    The lip licking leans more towards nausea than "wanting to try it". The smell of the food made her queasy.
    Is she still on medications of any kind? Many meds cause loss of appetite and nausea.
     

  18. smosmosmo

    smosmosmo Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    @Mamanyt1953 She pooped about an hour ago, thankfully. I'm pretty sure it's the Purina that constipated her, because she was irregular when I was feeding her that exclusively.

    @Kflowers Mine seems to need variety too - she was fine eating Tiki Cat salmon mousse every day for almost 5 months, but got really bored of that and absolutely refuses to touch it now. In the future I plan on dividing each new food into two portions, reheating leftovers to room temp then serving again - I do get tempted to throw something out after the first try for fear of offending her by serving it twice though, lol. For now, I'm just going to stick to timing her kibble meals and feeding her Inaba Churu in a bowl in between so she starts thinking that only good things come in bowls. Do you think the wait and see method would work for a cat that doesn't revisit food the second she's shunned it? That's why I keep switching things out - if she likes a certain food, she eats it right after I put it down, even if it's new to her. If she hasn't touched something within five minutes, it usually sits there until it gets dried up and inedible.

    @Jem I am so sorry about your loss - but how lucky for him that he lived such a healthy life with someone who loved him so well.

    I put out Smo's old kibble a couple hours ago, and she already seems in a better mood. She also licked her bowl clean when I put some Inaba Churu in there for her. I plan on doing just this for a few days before I start trying new foods out on her again, and am going to try serving that on paper plates. As for the lip licking, I've seen her do this both when she's nauseous and when she wants to eat something. With the latter, she'll lick her lips once or twice then start eating, but when she wants to throw up she'll do it continuously until she vomits. The vet gave her a Convenia injection last Friday which I know lasts two weeks and stays in the system for a couple months, but she hasn't had any appetite issues since we brought her back. I have noticed though that her stool smells pretty bad since her vet visit, when it really didn't smell much before that.
     
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  19. Jem

    Jem TCS Member Top Cat

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    :bliss:

    If she really enjoy's the Inaba treat, you could add water to it so you know she's getting more fluids, at least until she starts eating more wet foods.

    I don't remember if this was mentioned but do you have a water fountain? My kitties love their fountain. My cats also love it when I put ice cubes in their water dish and fountain, they will always drink when one is floating in there.
     
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  20. smosmosmo

    smosmosmo Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    @Jem That's a great idea! I'm going to start sneaking little bits of water into the Inaba. I've been looking at water fountains all week, and plan on ordering one along with a timed feeder. I hope it'll encourage her to drink more, the vet recommended I get one as well. I'm going to try the ice cube thing per your suggestion tonight, I know my boyfriend's cat is now obsessed with iced water after he started serving her some - she is an excellent drinker and very well-hydrated so maybe it'll work on Smo too.
     
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