A cat drinking and peeing too much is something we can spot. It is a very obvious sign of cat ill-health. For that reason it is something we can diagnose ourselves at an initial level. This is not a substitute for a vet’s diagnosis but information that can be given to a veterinarian.
It is most likely that a cat owner will spot excessive urination first when they remove used litter. Although, it has to be said that this is an example of where a cat caretaker needs to be observant on a day to day basis as a standard part of decent cat caretaking. It goes with the territory of being a cat owner.
Urinating lots and frequently is definitely something that requires prompt attention. The technical terms for excessive drinking is “polydipsia”. “Poly” means much and “dipsia” means thirst. The technical term for excessive urination is “polyuria”. “Uria” means “(condition of) possessing urine” or in layperson’s language a substance that is urine.
The cause of drinking a lot is peeing a lot. It is that way around.
There are three main reasons for a cat drinking and peeing a lot:
- Urinary Tract Disease
- Diabetes Mellitus (sugar diabetes). Affect 1 in 400 cats (USA).
Urinary Tract Disease
This is quite a complicated and commonplace cat illness. It is particularly common amongst older cats. The condition is complicated for older cats because older cats are liable to have kidneys that don’t work properly and hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism may mask kidney failure problems and make a diagnosis more difficult.
As I understand kidney failure, the reason why cats pee a lot when their kidneys fail is because the basic working units of the kidney, the nephrons – which are a bunch of blood vessels – fail to reabsorb water into the body after filtering out the waste from the blood plasma. This results in water being eliminated.
In normally reabsorbing water the liquid waste becomes more concentrated. When the organ starts to go wrong the water is more dilute and you will see this in the quality of the urine. At its worst, water simply passes through as waste and your cat will be drinking lots more water and it will be very obvious.
The failure of kidneys to work properly is one aspect of urinary tract disease. Others are conditions such as cystitis which is inflammation of the bladder. This is normally due to a bacterial infection. Your vet will do the diagnosis.
Feline diabetes is another fairly high profile cat disease and it is also complicated. It is on the increase in cats. It is high blood sugar (glucose) levels in the blood. This is because either insulin is not produced by the pancreas or the cells of the body don’t respond to insulin. The excess of glucose in the blood is got rid of by peeing excessively. This means the cat has to drink more to compensate for the loss of water.
Medications and hyperthyroidism can cause diabetes or produce the same symptoms as feline diabetes. Fat, male, neutered cats are more likely to get diabetes as are Burmese cats. Some vets think diet can play a role, pointing the the finger at modern dry cat food with high levels of carbohydrates being a possible cause.
“Hypertyroidism” means excessive, or above normal production of the hormone thyroid (thyroxin). The cause is nearly always a benign or malignant cancer. Older cats are the usual patients. Second hand cigarette smoke may be a factor in a cat developing hyperthyroidism which can also cause feline lymphoma. Other signs are increased activity and appetite.