Why Is Your Cat Drinking a Lot of Water?

We all like to take care of our beloved cats, and so if your cat is asking for water more frequently than usual, it can be a real worry. Nobody likes their cat to be unhealthy.

So you might be thinking to yourself, why is my kitten drinking a lot of water?

Well, there are a couple of reasons. You need to pay attention to all of them and work through them by a process of elimination with your veterinarian. Having a cat that needs more water than usual points to a possibly serious underlying cause.

cat drinking water

Why Cats Drink Too Much Water?

There is no one reason why cats might drink more water. It could be that they are dehydrated or that their body is not taking in enough water. It also might be that they are losing too much water and need to replace it. There are many different possible reasons for their increased water intake.

Lack Of Water In Food

The first thing to consider is whether the cat is getting enough water on their own. Some cats do not drink a lot of water from their water bowl and therefore get most of their water intake from their food.

If you mostly feed your cats with dry foods, or you have recently changed from wet food to dry food, or even changed the quantity of food you feed your cat, then this might be the culprit for their increased drinking habits. Dry cat foods only contain about 7-10% water moisture. This is not enough to fill your cat’s daily water needs.

Wet cat food, on the other hand, usually has 70-80% water moisture. They will not provide all the water your cat needs, either, but will provide a good amount. Aside from these differences in moisture content, both wet and dry cat foods are nutritionally complete.

An average cat needs about 20 teaspoons of water a day. Each tongue-lap from the water bowl only collects 3/100ths of a teaspoon, which is not a very efficient way to get water. Cats get most of their water from food.

According to PetMD’s research, a ten-pound adult cat eating only dry food needs to drink an extra cup (250ml) of water whereas a cat eating only wet food needs to drink a third of a cup (75ml) of water a day.

There are definitely pros and cons to both types of food. While wet cat food ensures that the cat is getting more moisture, dry cat food is helpful in preventing dental disease by about 10 percent (compared to wet food). Dry food is also less expensive and less messy and can be left all day in the food bowl.

If you are unsure what sort of cat food your cat should be eating, your veterinarian will be happy to aid you in choosing a high-quality food.

More moisture content is not the sole reason to change from dry food to wet food. There is nothing wrong with your cat drinking plenty of water from the water bowl to make up their fluid needs if they are on dry food.

Wet cat food in a bowl
Wet cat food with a lot of water content

Cats Being Cats

Cats are playful creatures and can enjoy playing with water. They are not strong swimmers and except for the Turkish Van “Swimming Cat” they don’t like getting entirely wet, but playing with water with their paws is exhilarating for them. You may notice that they also occasionally lap at the water when they play with it too.

Flowing water, such as running taps and fountains, is particularly exciting for cats. Owners who struggle to get their cats to drink from the water bowl may want to invest in a cat fountain to increase their cat’s fluid intake. Drinking frequently from these types of water sources will be as much from fascination and a sense of playfulness as it is from simple thirst.

A water fountain also increases aeration (oxygen content) in the water, so it tastes better. Cats who snub stale water bowls tend to drink more from the dripping faucet or other sources of fresh, running water.

Due to Diseases

Excessive drinking is also a possible symptom of an underlying disease. Here’s a rundown of the diseases which might be influencing your cat’s drinking behavior:

  • Diabetes – Humans aren’t the only species that can suffer from diabetes. Cats are also susceptible to it. Diabetes can either be Type I (in which the body stops producing insulin), or Type II (insulin is present but its effectiveness is suppressed). The pancreas produces insulin which regulates blood sugar levels, but when the blood sugar levels rise due to a lack of insulin, your cat might experience some worrying symptoms. Things that might be seen with this disease, aside from excessive drinking, include a change in appetite (initially increased, followed by decreased), excessive urination, sudden weight loss, and lethargy. If it is advanced your cat could start experiencing seizures or even go into a coma. Diabetes has no cure, but it can be managed with daily injections of insulin so that your pet can live a normal life. Some cats with Type II diabetes go into remission and no longer need insulin once they lose excess weight, or are fed a high-protein, low carbohydrate food.
  • Kidney Disease – Your cat’s kidneys might be deteriorating, which could be the reason for its excessive drinking. Symptoms of kidney disease only become apparent after 70% of the function of the kidneys have been lost. Other than increased drinking, symptoms to look for are excessive urination, decreased appetite, weight loss, vomiting, bloody or pale urine, and weakness. This is more common in older cats, but don’t be complacent as this can happen to cats of any age. Kidney disease can be easily diagnosed with a blood or urine test by your vet, and timely action early in the course of the disease will slow the progression. There are many different medications to help control kidney disease, but unfortunately, once the kidneys are damaged, the damage cannot be reversed.
  • Hyperthyroidism – Another common cause of excessive drinking is an overactive thyroid. This is called hyperthyroidism. It is unknown why some cats get this and some don’t, but it is very common especially in aging cats. The thyroid controls the metabolism of the body. Apart from increased drinking, symptoms include weight loss, increased urination, prolonged staring, hyperactivity, increased heart rate, panting, a goiter (or lump) in the neck, and vomiting. It usually occurs in middle-aged or older cats, so if you notice these symptoms, your vet will be able to check for it easily with a blood test. It can be controlled well with tablet medication. There are also options for surgery or radioactive iodine treatment to control the thyroid gland.

For all of these diseases, you need to immediately check with a vet. This is important to prevent the illness from progressing and potentially leading to death. In general, if your cat is drinking too much water, you need to pay attention and see if there are other changes in its behavior.

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How to See if Your Cat is Drinking Too Much Water?

Okay, maybe you’re noticing that your cat is drinking more often than usual. Perhaps it’s not really drinking much. How can you figure out your cat’s water intake?

Before heading to the vet, it’s always a good idea to observe your cat carefully. Cats typically drink between three and five ounces of water (¼ to ½ of a regular glass) per five pounds of body weight per 24 hours. This can be different depending on their diet.

To see if your cat is really drinking too much, measure the amount of water you’re giving them. Do this by filling up the water bowl with a specific amount of water in the morning. Then, 24 hours later, measure the remaining water. This way you can work out how much has been consumed within that time period.

Keeping Your Cat’s Water Intake Healthy

It’s always a good idea to monitor your cat carefully. This way you know what is normal for your cat. Normal water intake for one cat might not be the same for the next and so the most important thing to look out for is a change in water intake.

Bear in mind that your cat might be drinking water from pooled water outside, and so take the opportunity to occasionally check on them when they are outside and close by. Most owners are not able to quantify exactly how much a cat drinks, especially if it is an outdoor cat, but if you know your cat’s drinking habits, then it should be relatively easy to detect a change.

Cats that drink too much due to diabetes, kidney disease, or hyperthyroidism often pee outside of the litter box. They may also show signs of dehydration. Either is cues to see the veterinarian.

It’s up to you to make sure your cat’s water intake is healthy and not excessive. If there is a change, then your veterinarian can swiftly come to the rescue. Hopefully, nothing serious will be the matter, but working together with your veterinarian sooner rather than later will ensure the best outcome for your cat.

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