How long can a domestic cat survive without food OR without water?

This is a commonly asked question and I’ve not yet seen a really good answer. When you ask how long a domestic cat can survive without food you are presuming that the cat has access to water and therefore you are asking for how long a cat can survive on water only. Technically, the answer to that question would be about 1-2 weeks according to my research. The outcome depends on the cat’s age and health and indeed the circumstances.

But what if the cat has access to food only and no water? How long can a domestic survive without any water? The classic answer to that question is that on average a cat might survive for about 3-4 days as a maximum according to my research because water is vital to survival.

But this is the critical point that I want to make in this short post. If a cat has access to food but no water, they do, in fact, have access to water not in liquid form but as part of the food that they eat.

And therefore, if you are asking how long a cat can survive without water it will be longer than the typical 3-4 days if they are also eating wet cat food or eating mice. Both wet cat food and mice have an approximate 70% water content.

So, the domestic cat just eating mice or wet cat food is in fact ingesting quite a lot of water. And here is another very important point. The wild cat ancestor to the domestic cat can live off prey without water for a very long time, somewhat like the sand cat which is the only true desert cat.

The sand cat can live without water permanently, obtaining all their water from their prey animals. This ability wouldn’t apply to the African wildcat because they are not a true desert cat but the point that I am making is that without water they can survive for longer than the 3-4 days commonly stated on the Internet regarding the domestic cat.

To conclude, a domestic cat can survive without water provided they are eating wet cat food or have access to prey animals like mice for, I would estimate, up to a week perhaps more. It may be as long as two weeks as they will be ‘drinking’ water.

And a domestic can survive without food but with access to water for a similar time in my estimation.

The point I want to make is that food contains water and this is a point that I have not seen raised in other articles on this topic.

RELATED: Cat survived in house for 52 days by eating paper

Turning to online news media stories, I have seen several in which a domestic cat has been trapped inside say a container for upwards of one month and survived. It was assumed that the cat had access to some water perhaps condensation on the inside of the container but no access to food. On the basis that the story is true, it is probable that a domestic cat can live longer without food with access to water than is often stated on the Internet.

RELATED: How long can a domestic cat go without food? This is an earlier post.

P.S. There is perhaps another point worth making and that the domestic cat has nine lives. That’s the well-known saying. And the reason why they have nine lives is because they are great survivors. And they are great survivors because they can use their physical attributes and indeed their intelligence to help them survive. Their intelligence is geared up to hunting and survival which includes defending themselves.

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Very tense video of cat walking along bamboo bridge

Domestic cat in Asia walks along narrow bamboo bridge and almost falls off
Domestic cat in Asia walks along narrow bamboo bridge and almost falls off.

If you would like to watch a little bit of exciting tension in a cat video this will do. I am not going to tell you what happens at the end because I don’t want to be a spoiler for viewers of this little movie. The cat was overambitious in thinking that they could walk along a narrow bamboo ‘bridge’ as I have called it. They failed to get across the bridge but the cat’s fabulously athletic skills in survival carry the day.

The video is immediately below. Please be patient as it may take a little while to load as Facebook seem, on occasions, to be having problems in keeping their platform functioning properly. The same goes for Google Blogger. I am moaning again.

OMG! Luckily nothing happened ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Posted by โ€Žู„ุงูˆู‡ ุฏูŠูƒูˆุฑุงุชโ€Ž on Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Note: This is an embedded video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source or the video is turned into a link which would stop it working here. I have no control over this.

Despite the domestic cat’s amazing athletic skills, this individual was unable to get back up and onto the bamboo bridge and continue walking along it. It was beyond them. The video does point at a failing of the domestic or community cat (I think this is a community cat). Their inquisitiveness and perhaps overconfidence can and does get them into trouble, sometimes life-threatening, serious trouble. There are many video “cat fails” online. This is cats trying to do something which is beyond their abilities. Sometimes they seem to demonstrate an inability to recognise their physical limits. This is where the old adage “A cat has nine lives” comes into play. They need them.

Below are some more articles on the athleticism of the domestic cat.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Why nine lives for cats?

“Cat has nine lives” refers, as we all know, to the resilience and toughness of the domestic and feral cat. It indicates that they have more than one life such is their ability to survive.

The reason why nine was chosen is because in ancient times nine was considered a particularly lucky number. It was a trinity of trinities. The number nine, therefore, was considered lucky which reflected the luck of a cat to survive unforeseen life-threatening circumstances.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

How many lives has your cat used up?

Cat has nine lives
Cat has nine lives

Together, my cats have only used up one life. As I have lived with my cats for about 25 years that is not many. I have lived with four cats over that time. I am going to suggest that a cat’s life with respect to the phrase “a cat has nine lives” is an event during which the cat nearly dies but escapes death one way or another. There is no definition for it but a near death experience is what it means.

In fact, on that basis, I could say that my cats have not used up any of their lives. The phrase “a cat has nine lives” is a great exaggeration.

However, on one occasion my very ill Binnie was asleep on a manhole ventilation cover in the middle of the driveway of the block of flats where I live. The manhole was in the middle of the drive at the entrance to the block of flats where I live. It was a very dangerous place because cars and vans come and go at that point all the time. She was asleep. I think she was in pain and wanted the cooling air from the vent to ease the discomfort. That’s my theory. Although it is guesswork.

Theories on why a cat has nine lives

When I saw her, I raced out but walked slowly behind her and quietly approached her. I picked her up and from that time on she was an indoor cat until she was euthanised about 2 weeks later.

OK, I can’t think of any near misses that my cats have been through other than the event I have described, which is not really a near miss. It was just a very dangerous situation.

The nine lives of Fritz the Cat
The nine lives of Fritz the Cat

There are countless stories of cats who have used up one, two, or more of their nine lives. Have any of your cats used up even one of their lives?

I am going to guess and say I would be surprised if there are many examples; if any. Because of their intelligence and athletic ability cats get out of tight spots and avoid them.

To be honest, cats don’t carelessly get into situations where their life is at risk. It is more that human activity makes the life of a cat dangerous. Also, in some countries wildlife makes life dangerous for an outdoor cat.

Cats instinctively take precautions to avoid injury. Some situations are alien to a cat. These are human made environments which the domestic cat is unable to see as dangerous. For example, what about the empty containers at ports? Feral or stray cats can wander into them and become trapped. They are not prepared for the container to be closed. It is not something that they are programmed to be wary of.ย  Cats are domesticated wildcats and programmed to be wary of the sorts of situations that are dangerous to wildcats. Man made situations still confuse cats and create life threatening situations.

The classic example of man made dangers is road traffic. Cats have never mastered the fast moving car. They just don’t understand the dangers. They don’t understand that the car can kill them.

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Does a Cat have Nine Lives?

by Poochu

First pigeon

First pigeon

First pigeon Loud meow

Careless throwing of poisoned rodent carcass in the open takes away the life of feral kittens.

This human negligence killed a hungry black male feral kitten through "Secondary Poisoning".

Weeks later when the dead feral's sibling, an orange male kitten was found vomiting yellowish frothy mucous followed by bloody stools, a visit to the Vet was helpful in restoring his health back to normal within a week.

Being the weakest in his all male kindle of three, he has been compensated by Mother Nature with a loud meow which made me feed him in his "no food days".

These feeding stints helped him avoid eating rodent carcass when in extreme hunger.

Now when ever he is hungry he comes to my home, eats, sleeps on his special mattress for a while and leaves to play with his brawny orange brother.

Yesterday he hunted his first pigeon and did not let his brawny brother share it till he had his fill.

Long live the weak kittens when timely care and affection are provided by us humans.


Associated Pages:

Cat has nine lives (opens new window)

Why does a cat have nine lives?

Comments for
Does a Cat have Nine Lives?

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Feb 05, 2011 A Kitten Saved Becomes a Cat That Begets Nine Kittens.
by: Poochu

Michael thanks again and please do not apologise, giving us kitten and cat lovers a medium to express their plight is to be appreciated.

And as Finn Frode has rightly observed we Humans are ever ingesting toxins, which cannot be avoided till organic farming and being a vegitarian is the norm of life.

And Ruth am pleased to read your kind words. The kittens I rescue never forget me and that is my reward.

Thanks all again till I bring more kitten and cat news from India.

Feb 04, 2011 Thank goodness for you Poochu
by: Ruth

Hello again Poochu, it was nice to see another article by you, I missed you.
It's very sad that cats are killed by secondary poisoning, feral cats already face enough hardship and many dangers and some people are very careless about throwing out stuff which can harm them.
Thank goodness for you and people like you who care.
You can't save them all but it sounds to me that you are making a wonderful effort to help as many cats as you can.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Feb 03, 2011 The food chain
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi Poochu. Thank you for sharing this story about the two brothers.
I think the horrible end of the kitten eating a poisoned caucus demonstrates why we humans should be very careful about whate chemicals we use. They will eventually go further up in the food chain. In this case a kitten, in other cases animals eaten by humans - and eventually into humans too.

Thank you for taking good care of the orange kitten. You are a kindhearted person. ๐Ÿ™‚

Finn Frode avatar

Feb 03, 2011 Three things
by: Michael

Thanks, Poochu, for sharing. It is really nice to hear from India. I have been to India in the early 1970s. I like your country.

Your story is both sad and hopeful. Please come back and tell us some more India stories.

One or two words were inadvertently changed due to problems with software. I apologise for that.

Michael Avatar

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