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 sleep so much? Are all those snooze sessions something to worry about?
Your cat really isn't that lazy
An orange tabby cat sleeps with their eyes closed

Odds are, you have at least a few things in common with your cat. Maybe you both enjoy some quiet time in front of the television or maybe your feline friend loves cheese as much as you do. One thing you almost certainly have in common, though, is an affinity for sleep. After all, who doesn't love curling up in bed on a chilly winter morning? Even cats sleep more in winter!

As sweet as it may be to snuggle up for a snooze with your cat by your side, some cat owners find themselves wondering if their kitty is actually sleeping too much. It can be tricky to know what to expect when you're not an expert in feline sleeping habits -- but that's where we come in. We'll answer questions like: how much do cats sleep, why do cats sleep so much, and should you should be concerned about their frequent snooze sessions.

Read more
Wondering how to keep cat warm in cold weather – here are 9 effective ways to help your pet stay toasty
Try these tricks to keep your cat from being cold
A Maine Coon cat reaches his snow-covered paw toward the camera.

There are many reasons why your feline fur baby should remain exclusively indoors, but it's all the more important to keep your cat inside during the winter months. A blanket of snow may look stunning, but it makes it difficult for outdoor kitties to find their way home. The potential for accidents also increases due to decreased visibility and the presence of black ice.

Even if your cat stays indoors all the time, you'll still need to take extra steps to keep her warm during the cool weather. Some homes are naturally drafty, and with snow and ice accumulating on utility lines, the chance of power outages increases as well. Wondering how to keep cats warm in cold weather? Here are nine useful tips to get you started. 

Read more
Do cats get cold outside? Veterinarians explain what temperature is too low for outdoor kitties
Here's how you can tell if you cat needs to come in from the cold
A black cat with a dusting of snow on her coat stands outside

If your cat is an indoor/outdoor pet, he likely loves to pop outside to explore even when the temperatures drop. There are plenty of cold-weather cats who have thick coats and seem to do well outdoors in the winter, but it's important to consider your cat's comfort and safety before letting them roam the winter wonderland.

Cold temperatures can affect cats and threaten their health, and extreme temperatures can even lead to a cat's death. As scary as that sounds, it doesn't mean you can't let your cat out in the frigid temps. Instead, it's important to understand how cold is too cold and what extra care your cat may need to stay comfy in chilly weather. Don't worry; we'll explain.

Read more