Skip to main content

Wondering why your cat is drinking so much water? Here’s what it could mean

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 your cat is drinking so much water, there are several potential explanations, and it’s important to determine the cause. Thirst is one explanation. Excessive water intake can also be a sign of potential health problems, and spotting a problem 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

While several factors influence how much water a cat drinks, there is no exact figure for how much water a cat should drink. Your cat’s age and size will affect his drinking habits, and because wet food is mostly water, a cat who eats wet food will tend to drink a little less than a cat who eats dry food only.

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.

Cat drinking water out of a large metal bowl
Aleksandar Milutinovic/Shutterstock.com

Behavioral reasons for drinking more than usual

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

You may be able to identify stress-based drinking by looking for other behavioral changes in your cat. These may include:

  • Changes in eating habits.
  • Sleeping more or sleeping in different locations.
  • Anti-social behavior.
  • Hyper-clingy behavior.

It’s important to determine what’s causing the stress. 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.

Many of the signs of stress in cats are also symptoms of serious health issues. You might decide to monitor your cat for a little bit if there’s a known stressor in his life, but it’s important to consult your vet if you think there could be a health problem.

Cat drinking from water dish.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Physical causes for excessive thirst

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

  • Diabetes. Increased thirst is a common symptom of diabetes. It can usually be managed with insulin injections.
  • Hyperthyroidism. Cats with hyperthyroidism may experience an increased appetite and thirst, vomiting and diarrhea, and weight loss. It typically affects older cats ages 12 and up, and several treatments are available.
  • Kidney disease. While kidney disease is more common in older cats, younger cats can be affected, too. If your cat’s kidneys start to fail, your cat will urinate more, then drink more to make up for that lost fluid. While kidney disease is progressive, you can manage it in several ways, including medication and diet.
Susanne Jutzeler/Pixabay

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 thirst. 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 as healthy as possible.

Editors' Recommendations

Paige Cerulli
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Paige's work has appeared in American Veterinarian, Business Insider, Healthline, and more. When she's not writing, Paige…
Why do cats chatter? Decoding your pet’s noises
These noisy felines are famous for making all kinds of sounds
An orange and white cat meows in front of gray background

Cats' meows are cute and all, but nothing turns heads quite like their chattering. It's a unique, distinctive sound that can be somewhat of a shock to new cat owners, so it's only natural to have questions about this funny phenomenon. After all, not all cats chatter. Some felines will only chatter a few times throughout their lives, while others may chatter every day.
We'll review questions such as, "Why do cats chatter?", "Should I be concerned about chattering?", and "Is my cat chattering or chirping?". There can be a lot to decode within a cat's noises, but we're here to help. Before you know it, you'll be fluent in feline, too!

Why do cats chatter?

Read more
This is why cats pee on clothes (and how you can save your wardrobe in the future)
Why your cat is displaying this nasty behavior and what to do next
A long-haired cat in a woven laundry basket

Cats have many reputations — for plotting your demise (probably not), destroying the holiday trees (fair), and night owl behavior (they can't help themselves). However, cats are also known for being good about using the correct facility. Their instinct to go in one gives kitties a point over dogs, which are generally more difficult to housebreak in cat lovers' books.

Yet, your cat is suddenly peeing on your clothes.
"Why does my cat pee on my clothes?" you ask. That's a good question, and the answer is critical to uncover. Here's why: Peeing outside of the litter box is a sign that something is up, especially if the cat usually uses one like a pro. So, what's up with kitty when they're peeing on your laundry? They're not trying to spite you, but instead, to send you a rather gross but important message. Here's what a cat is saying when they choose your favorite shirt over their box.

Read more
Why do cats’ eyes dilate? What your pet’s extra big peepers mean
Your cat might have big eyes because of darkness, excitement, or surprise
A cat snuggling on a person's chest

Sometimes you come home to a dark house, and through the pitch black of your living room, you spy two big round orbs. While it might look Halloweeny at first glance, this is actually just how your cat sees things. Cat's eyes seem to glow at night because they reflect light, a lot more than ours do in any case. Just as with other animals, you will see a kitty's eyes dilate, but what is your cat's pupils meaning? We'll walk through what your pet's eyes tell you about their feelings and physical state and when you need to step in and get your cat to a vet.
What does it mean when cats' pupils get big?

Big eyes on your cat could mean a few different things, some physical and some emotional. Rarely, you may find that your cat has a larger issue since occasionally dilated pupils can be medical in nature (we'll go into this more later). Fortunately, it generally doesn't have to do with any underlying condition and instead has everything to do with the current situation. Here are some reasons your cat might have extra large peepers.
They're hunting
Cats love to hunt and frequently do so at dawn and dusk — both inside your home and out of it. Your pet might not literally be hunting for prey, but they could still enjoy stalking their toys or food. When they're in hunting mode, you may see extra big eyeballs staring at the object of their interest.
It's dark outside
When you spend time in a dark room or outside at night, you'll almost certainly notice your own pupils get bigger. That's because our eyes open up to let in more light and allow us to see better. It's the same with your cat but theirs tend to stand out a bit more in part because of the prior mentioned reflectivity.
Something surprised them
If you've ever heard of eyes widening with surprise, this is what we're talking about. From a physical perspective, your globes are attempting to take in everything as quickly as possible, because this surprise could mean a bad thing. A wild cat could get startled by a predator for example and need that info to find a way to safety.
They feel anxious
You may discover that your cat has eyes that seem to dilate under certain conditions or more frequently than usual. It might mean they're experiencing some anxiety and want to destress. Ensure there is somewhere in your house where they feel secure and that the day-to-day routine suits their needs.
They're aggressive
Sometimes you might see your cat's eyes turn to slits before they get into a fight with another cat because narrowing the opening can help them protect their sensitive ocular region. On the other hand, having wide-open eyes gives your feline more information about their opponent. Pay attention to other signs of aggression, which will help you determine if this is causing the widening.
When do dilated pupils indicate a medical issue?

Read more