Cat drinking a lot of water?

This is almost invariably about kidney malfunction/failure…. “Cat drinking a lot of water?” is something that comes up as a query on the Internet. Other search terms are: “cat drinking too much water” and “cat excessive vocalizations and drinking”. Sometimes cats drink out of the toilet and basin but this does not necessarily imply that the cat is drinking excessively. It might simply be that the cat prefers that source as it is fresher and free flowing (it mimics more accurately the wild state).

However, when a cat drinks what we consider to be too much water we need to take the cat to the veterinarian provided our assessment is correct. We should have a pretty good idea of what the normal intake is.

I would like briefly to quote the best book on feline health, Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook by Drs Giffin and Carlson (and others):

“One of the first signs of kidney failure is an increase in the frequency of voiding…”

“The large urine output must be compensated for by increased fluid intake….”

The cat will, therefore drink a lot more that usual. It is worth noting that a “a considerable amount of damage occurs before an signs are noted..” In short the kidney is considerably diseased before the cat drinks excessively.

Acute kidney failure can be reversed if the cause is dealt with before permanent damage has occurred.

Another disease that can cause a cat to drink lots of water is sugar diabetes.

“The signs of early diabetes are frequent urination, drinking lots of water, a large appetite…..”

Please buy this book. It is highly readable as it is designed to be read by a layperson and to be easily understood. And I always say that if we have a greater understanding of our cat’s health we are more able make proper and speedy decisions as to when to take our cat to the veterinarian. Of course knowledge should be used wisely and we should know when to treat our cat ourselves and when to take our cat to the veterinarian.

As to excessive drinking and vocalisation the latter may be linked to the former and be an expression of pain – cat crying.

Associated pages:

Feline Kidney DIsease (blogger site – page opens in new window)

Feline Diabetes

Michael Avatar

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

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Cat drinking a lot of water?

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Nov 18, 2010 Another Reason for ExcessiveThirst
by: Jo Singer

Hi Michael,

Your article is terrific. I just wanted to add one rather rare condition in cats that can cause excessive thirst.

Diabetes Insipidus is a condition in which the kidneys cannot process.

To quote Dr. Arnold Plotnick, DVM, this is the way in which he describes this condition. We have a cat that has DI and I only learned about it by his excessive thirst and fact.. “spraying” everything like a fire hose.

Dr. Plotnick writes, “is a metabolic disorder characterized by excessive, extreme urination, and accompanied by undue thirst. It is either caused by impaired production of a hormone called ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) from the brain (central DI), or an impaired ability of the kidney to respond properly to the ADH (nephrogenic DI).”

So our cat is treated with desmorpressin which is the hormone he is missing.

This condition can also be caused by a tumor of the pituitary gland from what I understand.

There is an excellent article written by Dr. Plotnick on Pet Place using the search words Diabetes Insipidus.

Thanks for a terrific article.


4 thoughts on “Cat drinking a lot of water?”

  1. I also want to add another cause of excessive water intake and urination. Our beloved 7 yo Maine Coon mix was exhibiting these symptoms combined with diarrhea. He is being evaluated for Hyperthyroidism and IBD. Too often cats have a combination of symptoms that don’t fit perfectly into just one disorder. Our cat, as we discovered by first researching the Internet, displayed symptoms that applied to a large variety of disorders. Owners need to be vigilant and know ALL new changes in a cat’s behavior, appearance, dietary habit, grooming habits and potty habits. In essence, they really are like your children in this regard.


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