Why Is Your Cat Drinking a Lot of Water?

We all like to take care of our beloved cats, and therefore 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?

Turns out, there are a couple of reasons. You would 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 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 reasons for increase need for intake and increased loss of water.

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 feeding wet food to a dry food, or even the quantity of fed cat food, then this might be the culprit for increased drinking habits. Dry cat foods only contain about 7 to 10% water moisture, not enough to fill your cat’s daily water intake.

Wet cat food, on the other hand, usually has 70-80% of water moisture. Aside from these differences in moisture content, both wet and dry cat foods are nutritionally complete. 

According to PetMD’s research, a 10 pounds adult cat having dry food all day along would need to drink an extra cup of water (250ml) whereas, a cat having wet food would only need to drink only 1/3 of a cup (75ml) a day. 

There are definitely pros and cons to them both. While wet cat food ensures the cat is getting more moisture, the dry cat food is significantly more beneficial to preventing dental disease. The dry variant is also 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.

Less moisture content is not a reason to change from dry food to wet food though. There is nothing wrong with your cat drinking plenty of water from the water bowl if they are on dry food to meet their fluid needs.

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

Cats Being Cats

Cats can be playful creatures and enjoy water especially. They are not strong swimmers, and 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. This is the reason why owners who struggle to get their cats to drink may invest in a cat fountain to increase their cat’s fluid intake. Drinking frequently from these types of water sources will be as much fascination and playfulness as it is serving a purpose to hydrate the cat.

Due to Diseases

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

  • Diabetes – Humans aren’t the only species that can suffer from diabetes. Cats are also susceptible to it. Diabetes can either be type 1, where there is a genetic origin, or type 2, when the pancreas has stopped working due to damage or excessive strain. 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.
  • 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 with older cats, but don’t be complacent as this can also happen with any aged cat. 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, it 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. The thyroid controls the metabolism of the body. Apart from increased drinking, symptoms include weight loss, increased urination, staring eyes, hyperactivity, increased heart rate, panting, a goitre (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, and 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 would need to observe and see if there are other changes in its behavior.

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

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

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

To see if your cat is really drinking too much, it would be a good idea to 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 is always a good idea to monitor your cat carefully. This way you know what is normal for your cat. A normal water intake for one cat might not be the same as 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 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 is easy to detect a change in them.

This way you can make sure your cat’s water intake is healthy, and not excessive, and if there is a change, then your veterinarian can swiftly check it out. 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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