When you do get kittens and begin raising them, it can be an exciting time. It is also crucial that they grow and are given the correct nutritional support.
Though an average and healthy-sized kitten can last up to two days, or perhaps longer, without food, it is generally accepted that they need to be fed often.
At this point, kittens do not require huge portions and as long as they are fed little but often they should grow healthy.
In this guide, we will look at why your kitten may not be eating, what to do if they aren’t, and how long they can go without food.
Why Your Kitten May Not Be Eating?
The death of a kitten’s mother shortly after its birth can mean that a kitten has no food source.
This can prove difficult and the kitten may not be eating as it is not yet able to digest solid food.
The reliance on the mother’s breastmilk is to sustain its early life and with that gone, it could prove fatal within a couple of days.
At this early stage in a kitten’s life, it is vital for the mother to be around at all times or the responsibility falls on the owner to feed it.
Another reason for the kitten not to be eating is that, even with the mother around, it could still fail to nurse.
The mother could reject one kitten in the litter or the kitten could fail to jockey for a position to feed itself.
Just like newborn babies, kittens need to be fed at regular intervals and this is typically around a maximum of four hours as any longer could risk hypoglycemia.
There could be a medical concern that means that your kitten is not eating too.
If they are simply not feeling well due to a clogged nose, intestinal parasites, or are constipated then you should be contacting a veterinarian to find a way to alleviate the concern.
What To Do If Your Kitten Is Not Eating?
There are several underlying causes of a kitten’s failure to eat though every effort should be used to ensure it gets a feeding.
This can include searching for a suitable foster mother, particularly if the kitten is under eight weeks old.
Your veterinarian may be able to help though you could also try a local cat shelter to find a suitable candidate.
The cat needs to be lactating already and have a small litter that your kitten can suckle from relatively conveniently.
Bottle-feeding is another option if you cannot find a lactating cat with a litter of its own.
This may be the only available option should the mother not be around during that crucial eight-week period after which the kitten has been weaned.
You should opt for a specific kitten formula and not just general milk as cats are lactose-intolerant and will fail to digest it.
Sweet water can also be another good choice though check the kitten beforehand as if it seems cold then those fluids may give them chills.
How Long Kittens Can Go Without Food?
Once a kitten has been completely weaned from the litter then the responsibility for feeding falls onto the owner as the mother’s work is largely done.
That means frequent feedings of small portions during the day as the consequences of a single missed day could be crucial.
Even if you have to leave the kitten unattended as you leave for town, any kittens would need to be looked after in your absence.
The older that the kitten gets then the longer it can go without food. At eight weeks, it can go a full eight hours, or even half a day, without a feed.
A fully grown cat can go a whole two days without food, that is as long as they have a supply of fresh water too.
A lot of that depends on the size of the cat as the smaller they are then the shorter their window of going without feed.
There is also the prevailing possibility that the kitten could starve itself and die. That is an extreme case yet is increasingly possible if they are under eight weeks old.
Particularly if medical conditions cannot be solved within two days or so then they may lose their appetite or are unable to digest their food.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do I Do If The Kitten Feels Cold?
Should the kitten feel cold, you should try to warm it up before feeding it any formula to prevent chills from occurring.
You only need to use your body heat to sufficiently warm up a kitten and you can rub it gently for around half an hour and then check its footpads.
Only when the kitten has warmed up should you try to bottle-feed it and you can either use a bottle with a small opening or a syringe that comes without a needle.
How Long May An Eight-Week-Old Kitten Survive Without Food?
At eight weeks old, a kitten should be fully weaned and away from the litter. As it is stronger than you could argue at four weeks, it should be able to feed and defecate all on its own.
However, the longest period of time that an eight-week-old kitten should be without food is still only around eight hours though that can be pushed to half a day.
If you still cannot get your kitten to feed after a day then you should consult your local veterinarian as it should be serious enough by then.
This may be your first time looking after a kitten and it is typically a time to learn. The veterinarian can offer advice on what to do in such situations and examine the kitten.
It could be an aspect of the bottle feeding, another part of routine care, or simply stimulation.
That period after 24 hours is critical as hypoglycemia could set in and the veterinarian may be the only option to save the kitten.
At Love4Cats, our practice involves consistent collaboration with licensed veterinarians and reputable industry experts. However, it's important to note that the content provided on Excited Cats is not intended as veterinary advice. While we strive to enhance your understanding of feline care, the information presented on this blog should not replace professional veterinary guidance.