Cat drinking a lot of water? Here’s what it means

It’s natural for your cat to drink frequently throughout the day, but if your cat is continuously draining his water dish, there might be something amiss. If you’re wondering, “Why is my cat drinking so much water?” there are several potential explanations, but it’s also important to determine just what’s causing your cat to drink so much more. A cat drinking a lot of water might just appear thirsty, but excessive water intake can also be a sign of other potential health problems. Spotting this issue early on means you’ll be able to get your cat the vet care he needs.

Orange cat drinking out of a large bowl
rihaji/Pixabay

Normal drinking habits for cats

There’s no precise figure for how much water intake is normal for a cat, and many factors will affect how much your cat drinks. Your cat’s age and size will affect his drinking habits, and because wet food contains water, a cat who eats wet food will tend to drink a little less than a cat who eats only dry food.

Your cat’s lifestyle will also affect how much water he needs. If you have an active cat who spends the day outside in warm temperatures, he’ll drink more than a sedentary indoor cat who lives in a cooler environment.

With time, you’ll get to know what’s normal for your cat and how often you have to refill his water bowl. If you notice a sudden and significant change, then your cat might be experiencing a problem.

Behavioral drinking

Some cats may start drinking in excess because of anxiety or stress. Drinking water can become a sort of reassurance for your cat, and eventually, it turns into a habit that he’s doing out of emotional reassurance, rather than physical need.

You may be able to identify stress-based drinking changes by looking for other behavioral changes in your cat. You might notice different eating habits, or your cat might start sleeping more or sleeping in different locations. Your cat might also be more anti-social than usual, or he might be hyperclingy and always by your side.

You might also be able to determine what’s stressing your cat. Look for big life changes like the addition of a new baby to the household or a recent move. Addressing these changes and giving your cat some time may help reduce his stress.

It’s important, too, to recognize that many of the signs of stress in cats also are symptoms of serious health issues. You might decide to monitor your cat for a little bit if there’s a known sign of stress in his life, but it’s important to consult your vet if you think there might be a chance of a health issue.

Tiger cat drinking out of a large water bowl.
rihaji/Pixabay

Physical causes for excessive drinking

Unfortunately, many physical issues can lead your cat to drink unusual amounts of water.

  • Diabetes can lead to increased thirst, but it can also be treated with insulin injections.
  • Hyperthyroidism is another common health issue that typically affects older cats ages 12 and up. Your cat may experience an increased appetite and thirst, vomiting and diarrhea, and weight loss. Several treatments are available for hyperthyroidism.
  • Increased thirst can also be a symptom of kidney disease. Kidney diseases typically affect older cats, but younger cats can be affected, too. If your cat’s kidneys start to fail, your cat will urinate more and will then drink more to make up for that lost fluid. While kidney disease is progressive, you can manage it in several ways, including medications and diet changes.

Your cat’s drinking habits can provide important insight into his overall health. While there are situations that can cause your cat to drink more, it’s also important to carefully monitor his drinking habits for signs of potential health issues. If you’re uncertain if your cat’s drinking habits are normal, it’s best to make an appointment with your vet. Your vet can perform an examination and may decide to do some diagnostic testing to rule out any serious health issues that might be behind your cat’s increased drinking. Many of these potential health issues are manageable and treatable, but it’s always best to identify them early on to help keep your cat at his best.

Editors' Recommendations