Why Does A Cat Drink A Lot Of Water?

Cats, like all animals, have specific water intake requirements to maintain optimal health. However, if you notice that your cat is drinking a lot of water, it could be a cause for concern. Excessive thirst, also known as polydipsia, can be a sign of various underlying health issues. In this article, we will explore the potential causes of increased water consumption in cats, the importance of monitoring their behavior, and when to seek veterinary attention.

Normal Water Intake for Cats

Before delving into the reasons behind excessive thirst, it’s essential to understand what constitutes normal water intake for cats. The average cat typically drinks between 5 to 10 ounces of water per day, but individual needs can vary based on factors such as age, size, diet, and activity level. Factors like a diet of dry kibble, health conditions, and environmental temperature can influence a cat’s water requirements.

Potential Causes of Excessive Thirst in Cats

  1. Dehydration:
    Dehydration is a common cause of increased water intake in cats. If a cat is not getting enough water or is losing fluids due to factors such as vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive urination, they may compensate by drinking more water.
  2. Dietary Factors:
    The type of food a cat eats can impact their water intake. Cats on a dry kibble diet may need to drink more water than those on a wet or raw food diet, as wet food has a higher moisture content.
  3. Health Conditions:
    Various health conditions can contribute to excessive thirst in cats. These include:
  • Kidney Disease: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common condition in older cats and can lead to increased thirst and urination.
  • Diabetes Mellitus: Diabetes can cause increased thirst and urination due to elevated blood sugar levels.
  • Hyperthyroidism: An overactive thyroid gland can lead to increased water consumption.
  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): Infections of the urinary tract can cause increased thirst and more frequent urination.
  • Liver Disease: Certain liver conditions can affect a cat’s ability to regulate water balance.
  1. Environmental Factors:
    Changes in environmental conditions, such as warmer temperatures or increased humidity, can lead to higher water intake to help regulate body temperature.
  2. Stress or Anxiety:
    Cats may increase their water intake due to stress or anxiety. Changes in the household, new pets, or environmental disruptions can contribute to emotional stress in cats.
  3. Medications:
    Some medications can cause increased thirst as a side effect. If your cat is on medication, consult with your veterinarian to determine if this could be a contributing factor.
  4. Pregnancy or Lactation:
    Pregnant or lactating cats may experience an increase in water intake as their bodies have additional demands for hydration.

Monitoring Your Cat’s Behavior

Observing changes in your cat’s behavior, including water consumption, is crucial for early detection of potential health issues. Here are some tips for monitoring your cat:

  1. Track Water Consumption:
    Pay attention to your cat’s water bowl. If you notice a significant increase in water consumption, consider measuring the amount of water you provide and documenting changes over time.
  2. Observe Urination Patterns:
    Changes in urination patterns can be indicative of underlying health issues. Monitor the frequency, volume, and color of your cat’s urine. If you notice any abnormalities, it’s a potential red flag.
  3. Check for Other Signs of Illness:
    Excessive thirst is often accompanied by other signs of illness. Watch for changes in appetite, weight loss, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, or changes in grooming behavior.
  4. Behavioral Changes:
    Pay attention to any behavioral changes, such as increased vocalization, hiding, or changes in activity levels. These could be signs of stress or discomfort.

When to Seek Veterinary Attention

If you observe persistent or concerning changes in your cat’s water consumption, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian. Seek veterinary attention if you notice:

  1. Sudden Increases in Thirst:
    If your cat’s water intake suddenly and significantly increases, it may be a sign of an underlying issue that requires prompt attention.
  2. Accompanying Symptoms:
    If excessive thirst is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, such as changes in appetite, weight loss, lethargy, or vomiting, it’s crucial to seek veterinary evaluation.
  3. Changes in Urination:
    Any changes in urination patterns, including increased frequency, difficulty urinating, or changes in the color or smell of urine, warrant a veterinary visit.
  4. Persistent Symptoms:
    If changes in water consumption persist for more than a day or two, especially if they are accompanied by other worrisome signs, consult with your veterinarian for a thorough examination and diagnostic workup.

Diagnostic Process for Excessive Thirst in Cats

When you take your cat to the veterinarian for increased water consumption, the diagnostic process may involve the following steps:

  1. Physical Examination:
    A thorough physical examination allows the veterinarian to assess your cat’s overall health, check for signs of dehydration, and identify any abnormalities.
  2. Blood and Urine Tests:
    Blood tests, including a complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry panel, can provide insights into organ function and detect abnormalities. Urine tests, such as a urinalysis, help assess kidney function and identify potential urinary tract issues.
  3. Imaging Studies:
    In some cases, imaging studies such as X-rays or ultrasounds may be recommended to visualize internal organs and identify any abnormalities.
  4. Additional Tests:
    Depending on the initial findings, additional tests such as thyroid function tests, tests for infectious diseases, or specific tests for organ function may be conducted.
  5. History and Behavioral Assessment:
    Providing a detailed history of your cat’s behavior, environment, and any recent changes can assist the veterinarian in identifying potential stressors or contributing factors.

Treatment Options and Management

The treatment and management of excessive thirst in cats depend on the underlying cause. Treatment options may include:

  1. Addressing Underlying Health Conditions:
    If a specific health condition is identified, such as kidney disease, diabetes, or hyperthyroidism, treatment will focus on managing or addressing the underlying cause. This may involve medications, dietary changes, or other interventions.
  2. Fluid Therapy:
    In cases of dehydration or certain medical conditions, fluid therapy may be recommended. This can be administered through intravenous (IV) fluids or, in some cases, subcutaneous fluids given under the skin.
  3. Dietary Modifications:
    Dietary changes, such as switching to a wet food diet or a prescription diet tailored to address specific health concerns, may be recommended.
  4. Medications:
    Depending on the diagnosis, your veterinarian may prescribe medications to manage symptoms or treat the underlying condition. This may include medications to regulate blood sugar, control thyroid function, or address kidney disease.
  5. Lifestyle Modifications:
    Making adjustments to your cat’s environment, reducing stressors, and providing mental and physical stimulation can contribute to overall well-being.
  6. For chronic conditions, regular monitoring and follow-up with your veterinarian are essential to assess your cat’s response to treatment and make any necessary adjustments.


Excessive thirst in cats is a symptom that should not be ignored. It can be indicative of various underlying health conditions, ranging from relatively minor issues to more serious diseases. Monitoring your cat’s behavior, seeking veterinary attention when needed, and participating in regular wellness check-ups are crucial for maintaining your cat’s health and addressing any concerns in a timely manner. As a responsible cat owner, staying vigilant to changes in behavior and partnering with your veterinarian are key components of ensuring your feline companion’s well-being.