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cat parent must-knows

The essentials

  • A lot of cats struggle with dehydration — But drinking too much water can also be cause for concern.
  • Some causes are more concerning than others — Your cat could simply be responding to a food change or they could be experiencing a medical issue.
  • It’s important to understand how much your cat is drinking — Keep an eye out for any changes in your cat’s normal drinking habits.

Why is my cat thirstier than normal?

There are various reasons why your cat may be experiencing increased thirst, some of which are more concerning than others. Below are some of the most common:

  • Change of food. Recent changes to your cat’s diet could affect their overall hydration. This can happen when switching your cat from wet food (which contains more water and is more hydrating) to dry kibble.
  • Heat exhaustion. If your cat has been exposed to high temperatures (especially those at or above 80°F), they could be experiencing heat exhaustion. Heat illnesses often accompany dehydration, meaning your cat will likely drink more water than normal. This condition can be quite serious and requires immediate medical attention.
  • Illness. Excessive thirstiness is a symptom of multiple illnesses in cats. These include diabetes, urinary tract infections, feline hyperthyroidism, pancreatitis, and kidney disease. Most of these illnesses cause both excessive urination and increased thirst.

How much should my cat be drinking?

Some cats drink more water than others, but most don’t drink nearly enough. Some owners even have to get creative to encourage their feline friend to stay hydrated. The average 10-pound cat should drink about a cup of water each day, though that number increases for cats that weigh more.

Signs of increased drinking

It can be difficult to keep an eye on your cat’s water intake. Rather than trying to measure how much liquid your cat drinks, look out for other signs that your cat is drinking more than usual. Some of the most common signs include the following:

  • Your cat is making more trips to their water bowl than usual
  • Your cat needs their water bowl refilled more often than usual
  • Your cat is experiencing changes in appetite

Signs of increased urination

Increased thirst is typically accompanied by increased urination. In the case of kidney disease and diabetes, this happens because the kidneys lose their ability to concentrate urine. It may be hard to tell if your cat is having this issue, but there are a few tell-tale signs. If your cat is experiencing any of the following, you’ll want to take them in for a vet checkup:

  • Your cat is urinating large quantities
  • Your cat is urinating more frequently than usual
  • Your cat is having accidents

What to do if your cat is drinking a lot

First, try to rule out nonmedical reasons for your cat’s thirst, such as recent dietary changes. If nothing in their routine or diet has changed, they may be experiencing a medical problem that will require medical attention. You’ll also want to take your cat to the vet if their increased thirst is accompanied by GI issues like vomiting and diarrhea, which could be a sign that they’ve ingested a toxic food or substance. When in doubt, it’s never a bad idea to ring your vet. Blood tests may be required, and treatment will vary depending on your cat’s diagnosis.

Preventing increased thirst

The best way to keep your cat from drinking excessively is to prevent them from developing any underlying medical conditions that could cause this issue, like diabetes, kidney and liver disease, and more.

To prevent diabetes, you should keep an eye on your cat’s weight and always make sure to feed them a healthy, balanced diet. A healthy diet is also key to preventing kidney and liver disease, and annual wellness checkups can help ensure your cat is healthy. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that some conditions simply can’t be prevented.

Frequently asked questions

Why is my cat very thirsty?

If your cat seems to be drinking more water than usual, they may simply be adjusting to a food change. If the pattern persists, they could be suffering from a urinary tract infection, feline hyperthyroidism, diabetes, or kidney disease. Other related symptoms of illness include weight loss, muscle atrophy, vomiting, behavior changes, and more.

How much water should a cat drink in 24 hours?

For every five pounds your cat weighs, they should have 3.5 to 4.5 ounces of water daily.

Why is my cat not eating but drinking lots of water?

Increased water consumption can be a sign of kidney disease and diabetes. These conditions affect a cat’s ability to properly concentrate urine, resulting in increased urination and thirst. If you notice these clinical signs, schedule a veterinarian appointment as soon as possible.

Can increased thirst be a sign of stress and anxiety in cats?

In some instances, your cat may turn to the water bowl as a way to cope with stress and anxiety. This is especially true for cats with separation anxiety.

Why is my elderly cat always thirsty?

Excessive drinking is most commonly seen in older cats — particularly those 10 years of age and older. If your elderly cat seems to be drinking more water than usual, they could have feline hyperthyroidism, diabetes, or kidney disease and should be seen by a vet.