How Long Can a Cat Survive Locked in a Shed?

By Phil / July 19, 2018
How Long Can a Cat Survive Locked in a Shed

The nightmare for any cat owner is their cat going missing. I’ve had it happen a couple of times for a few days, and I can tell you it’s hell not knowing where or what’s happened to my cats.

Cats are curious animals, and unfortunately, some are easily led astray by overly friendly neighbors thinking they are doing the right thing by feeding and fussing them.

But this often leads to cats straying away from their homes. Feeling comfortable enough to investigate places they shouldn’t, and spending too much time in other people’s homes in some cases.

If you’ve had a cat missing for any number of days I’m sure you’ll be able to relate to how the mind starts to wonder about some of the bad things that may have happened.

It’s not nice, but it’s normal. Afterall, why wouldn’t you cat return next time they are hungry?

The obvious places to look first are in sheds, garages, porches, and any other places they may have walked into while the door was open, then not got out before it closed.

In this article, I thought I’d help you build a timeline of how long your cat can survive trapped in a shed or garage, and some of the other places and reasons why cats go missing.

How Long Can a Cat Survive Locked in a Shed?

Cats are very mentally strong, as long as they have food and water they can survive almost anywhere for weeks, or even months without going as crazy as we would.

With that in mind, the food and water is obviously the important lifeline. So, let’s take a look at how long they can survive trapped in a shed, garage, or wherever else:

How Long Can a Cat Survive Without Water?

Cat Has Stopped Drinking from Bowl - What to Do

Lack of water is the major concern when cats are missing because after 1-2 days they start to dehydrate and get ill, and 3 days on will likely be fatal.

This is the main issue when a cat is trapped in a shed or a garage as it’s unlikely they will be drinkable water.

When cats are just missing out in the neighborhood or wild they are very good at finding water sources and will generally be fine for weeks or more.

Check out this post about how to encourage a cat to drink from their bowl.

How Long Can a Missing Cat Go Without Food?

A healthy cat can survive without food for a couple of weeks. Obviously, ‘survive’ is the key word here. After a week or so they will be at serious risk of developing irreversible health issues.

Something worth pointing out is that fatter cats are not necessarily going to survive longer just because they are fat.

Fat cats will often develop serious liver conditions before slimmer cats while being deprived of food or quality nutrition.

Cat Locked in Room for 3 Days: What Should I Do?

This was a question I was sent a few weeks ago by someone:

We recently went away for 3 days and I was sure my cat was outside somewhere when we left, which is fine because we leave a window open and have an automatic feeder.

However, when we got back I could smell cat poop in the house and I can just tell there hadn’t been any movement, so I started looking around.

When I opened the spare bedroom door my car sheepishly walked out and ignored me. She must have been in there for almost 60 hours, the 3 days we were away.

She’s been acting weird since, not eating much, her fur is all matted and scruffy, and she isn’t being her social self – what should I do?

Without being rude this was an easy one to answer – I told them to get her checked out by a vet ASAP!

Three days is a dangerous amount of time for a cat to go without water as I explained earlier. There is a serious risk that she may have some internal organ damage, which might explain her behavior.

Don’t just assume your cat is sad or in a mood with you for leaving them trapped in a room for days if this happens. Get them seen to by a pet health care professional to be on the safe side.

A Missing Cat Story with a Happy Ending!

With all the worst case scenarios and bad news in this article, I couldn’t end without ending on a happy note.

I read a heartwarming story in the DailyMail from the UK. It starts off sad, with a 10-year old cat named Emmy being missing for two months.

Her owner had all but given up on her as I’m sure you can imagine. When she found her locked in a shed and still alive all those weeks later.

Emmy had survived by licking the condensation off the inside of the windows in the shed. A truly remarkable story, she made a full recovery, and a happy ending!


I hope you never find yourself in the situation where your cat has gone missing. But if you do, check sheds, garages, and any other places they might have snuck into unseen and accidentally been trapped in.

Don’t just assume they are being fed and pet by friendly neighbors nearby and will return any time soon. Time is of importance.

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