Subject: Is fasting a cat dangerous?
Many holistic and natural pet care sites advocate frequent fasting of cats for 48 hours as a means of maintaining optimum feline health.
Many sites have these identical words as support for why 48 hour fasts are healthy: "They will, however, frequently refuse food when unwell as a possible means to speed recovery. Cats are unharmed by the absence of food for several days, and in extreme times of famine may loose up to 50% of their body mass and still survive."
Cats stop eating when they are sick because they have become very sick and do not have an appetite. It has absolutely nothing to do with speeding recovery. If anything, it can make the cat even sicker because they don't have the reserves to battle illness.
The second part about cats losing 50% of their body mass and surviving is equally false. Sure, a cat may survive but the massive weight loss has done irreparable harm to their organs, muscles and bones.
Fasting a cat for even short periods (48 hours) can cause hepatic lipidosis. Unlike people, cats do not utilize fat reserves in their body for energy. They actually break down non-fatty body tissues for energy. Since the fast throws their system out of balance, fat gets stored in liver and the liver stops processing fats. In a short period of time, the liver shuts down and the cat's life is at risk if not treated by a vet.
Many holistic and natural pet care sites base their conclusions on cats in the wild. They erroneously believe that cats in the wild (ferals and strays) often go days without food when hunts are unsuccessful. In between meals of birds and rodents, cats will often eat bugs, frogs and other small creatures for protein. As a result of these small snacks, cats do not truly fast in the wild.
I would also like to take this opportunity to let everyone know that we have a new forum devoted to Shelties.