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What is Drinking A Lot?

Excessive thirst, or polydipsia, is common in cats when they are overexerted from exercise, excited from playing, or when there is a change in diet. The sodium in your cat’s food may be higher than the previous one, causing extra thirst. However, drinking a lot of water can also be a sign of a medical condition. Some of the conditions your cat may have include:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypercalcemia
  • Hyperthermia (fever)
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Urinary tract infection

Drinking more water than usual is normal if it is temporary, but if it lasts longer than a few hours, you should take your cat to a veterinary professional.

Why Drinking A Lot Occurs in Cats

Diabetes

There are two types of diabetes in cats, which are diabetes mellitus and water diabetes (diabetes insipidus). Diabetes mellitus is the most common form of diabetes in cats. It is a lifelong condition of insulin deficiency caused by a failure to regulate sugar in the body. Some other signs of diabetes mellitus besides increased thirst include increased urination, lack of appetite, and weight loss. Water diabetes is the inability to control the water levels in the body, which is an uncommon disease in cats. Other symptoms for water diabetes are dehydration, diluted urine, and increased urination. Diabetes most often affects older cats that are overweight.

Hypercalcemia

Hypercalcemia is a rapid increase of calcium in the body and is usually accompanied by serious conditions such as kidney failure and cancer. Some of the symptoms of hypercalcemia besides drinking a lot include appetite loss, depression, and sleepiness.

Hyperthermia (fever)

Hyperthermia is an increase in body temperature for any reason. You will usually notice that your cat is acting ill before you notice the fever or polydipsia. Many disorders can cause a high body temperature.

Hyperthyroidism

If your cat has too many thyroid hormones, it can affect the entire body. This is a common condition in cats over seven years of age. Some additional signs of hyperthyroidism are depression, bad coat condition, diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss.

Hypotension (low blood pressure)

Low blood pressure in cats can be caused by severe dehydration, shock, heart disease, kidney failure, and blood loss. Sometimes there is no known cause. In addition to polydipsia, your cat will show confusion, pale gums, nausea, fainting or collapse, dizziness, and fatigue.

Kidney Disease

There are many reasons for kidney disease in cats, some of which are age, injury, and chronic disease. There is a higher incidence of kidney disease in British Shorthairs, Himalayans, and Persians. However, kidney disease is common in all cats over the age of seven. You may also notice other symptoms such as appetite and weight loss, depression, bad breath, excessive scratching, weakness, and low body temperature.

Liver Disease

Just as with humans, the liver is needed for essential functions in your cat’s body such as filtering toxins, processing and storing nutrients, breaking down carbohydrates, and producing albumin and bile. Some other signs of liver disease besides drinking more include swollen abdomen, drooling, dark urine, diarrhea, vomiting, pale gums, appetite and weight loss, jaundice, and lethargy.

Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infections in cats are very common and can occur for many reasons. In fact, UTIs are the most commonly treated illness in cats. This condition can be mild or severe, depending on the cause. The most often reported causes include cystitis, urinary stones, and urethral obstructions. Other symptoms that may accompany polydipsia include crying while urinating, frequent urination, blood in the urine, and urinating outside of the litter box.

What to do if your Cat is Drinking A Lot

Diabetes

If you believe your cat has diabetes, take him to the veterinarian right away. This is a life-threatening disease and timely treatment is essential. Your veterinarian will need to do a blood glucose test to determine if your cat has diabetes. It is a treatable disease but insulin levels have to be maintained daily for the rest of your cat’s life. Maintenance therapy for diabetes is usually insulin injections along with a high protein and low carb diet.

Hypercalcemia

Hypercalcemia can be treated by treating the underlying disease. If the calcium level is extreme, the veterinarian will provide fluid therapy intravenously to treat dehydration and decrease renal calcium amounts. Diuretics are usually prescribed as well as prednisone (glucocorticoid) to reduce calcium levels through the urine.

Hyperthermia (fever)

You should make an appointment for your cat to see a veterinarian to find out why your cat has a fever. Be sure to watch for other signs of illness as well.

Hyperthyroidism

The veterinarian will probably recommend removal of the thyroid gland or radioactive iodine therapy. Another choice is medication but it has risky side effects.

Hypotension (low blood pressure)

Intravenous fluids and medication are the first line of treatment to help increase the blood pressure. Once that is done, treating the hypotension is done by finding and treating the underlying cause.  

Kidney Disease

The veterinarian will have to determine the reason for the kidney disease and treat your cat accordingly. However, intravenous fluids are essential in helping to flush the kidneys. Some of the treatments for kidney disease include surgery to remove the failing kidney, transplant, or medication to slow the progression of the disease if it is not treatable.

Liver Disease

Due to the seriousness of liver disease, your veterinarian will probably admit your cat to the hospital for intravenous fluids and medication including electrolytes and B-complex vitamins and thiamine. Once your cat is stable, the veterinarian will have to determine the cause of the disease and treat it accordingly.

Urinary Tract Infection

The treatment for UTIs includes fluid therapy and antibiotics. The veterinarian will need to run some tests to find out the cause of the UTI as well.

Prevention of Drinking A Lot

To prevent diabetes, you should make sure your cat does not overeat and become overweight. When you take your cat for his annual wellness check, the veterinarian may do standard blood tests to assess your feline’s glucose levels. Often, diabetes , or pre-diabetes, is discovered at a routine check up. 

Preventing kidney or liver disease includes feeding your cat a high quality cat food and visiting the clinic on a regular basis, at least once per year, in order for the veterinarian to check your pet’s weight and evaluate a urine and fecal sample. To prevent UTIs you should provide fresh water and a clean litter box at all times.

Cost of Drinking A Lot

The cost of treating excessive thirst in cats varies depending on the cause. For example, treating diabetes, which is a lifelong illness, can range from $500 to $5,000 depending on the age of your pet and the severity of the condition. Kidney disease ranges from $200 for medication to $35,000 for a kidney transplant. Liver disease may cost up to $6,000 and the others range from $200 to $2,000. The average cost overall to treat a cat who is drinking a lot is about $2,000.