Is Your Cat Drinking A Lot of Water? 7 Common Reasons

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Last Updated: November 2nd, 2023

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Have you noticed your cat drinking a lot of water, more than usual? Here are 7 common reasons for excessive water drinking in cats.

grey cat drinking water from a glass bowl

Cats typically have low thirst drives and often get much of their water from their food, especially if they eat wet food. So if you’ve noticed your cat drinking a lot more water than usual, it could be an indication of an underlying health issue. There are some non concerning reasons for increased water intake in cats, like change in temperature. It’s natural for cats to drink more water in summer temperatures. However, if your cat seems to start drinking more water out of the blue, here are seven common reasons why a cat might be drinking excessively:

Why Is My Cat Drinking A Lot of Water?

Diabetes Mellitus in Cats:

This is one of the most common causes of increased thirst in cats. Diabetes can cause increased urination, which in turn leads to increased thirst. Cats with diabetes may also exhibit weight loss, decreased appetite, lethargy and a dull coat.

However, these symptoms can also be indicative of other conditions, so it’s important to get a definitive diagnosis from a veterinarian. The vet will likely perform a blood test to check the cat’s blood glucose levels and a urinalysis to look for glucose and ketones in the urine. Consistently high levels of glucose in the blood and urine are indicative of diabetes. Prompt and accurate diagnosis is crucial, as untreated diabetes can lead to serious health issues and even be life-threatening.

glucose monitoring device attached to a cat with diabetes

Kidney Disease in Cats

Chronic kidney disease is common in older cats and can lead to increased thirst and urination. The kidneys are less able to concentrate urine, so the cat loses more water and needs to drink more to stay hydrated. Symptoms of kidney disease in cats can also include:

  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • A dull, unkempt coat
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Bad breath with a chemical odor
  • Mouth ulcers, particularly on the gums and tongue

It’s important to note that these symptoms can be subtle, especially in the early stages, and can also be indicative of other health issues. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take your cat to a veterinarian for a proper assessment. The vet will likely perform blood tests to check for elevated levels of waste products like blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine, which are indicative of reduced kidney function. A urinalysis will also be conducted to evaluate the urine’s specific gravity (a measure of concentration) and to check for protein, blood, or signs of infection. Early detection and management of kidney disease are crucial for the well-being of your cat and can significantly affect the progression of the disease.

Hyperthyroidism in Cats

This is a condition where the thyroid gland is overactive and produces too much thyroid hormone. Cats with hyperthyroidism typically exhibit a combination of the following signs:

  • Weight Loss: Despite an increased appetite (polyphagia), cats with hyperthyroidism tend to lose weight because their metabolism is in overdrive.
  • Increased Appetite
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased Thirst and Urination
  • Vomiting and Diarrhea
  • Poor Coat Condition
  • Increased Heart Rate and Heart Murmur
  • Enlarged Thyroid Gland: In some cases, you may feel or see an enlargement in the neck where the thyroid glands are located.

If you observe any combination of these symptoms, especially in an older cat, it’s important to visit a veterinarian. The vet will likely perform a physical examination and blood tests, specifically looking at thyroid hormone levels (T4). Elevated levels typically confirm the diagnosis of hyperthyroidism. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial and can help manage the symptoms and prevent potential complications like hypertension and heart disease.

British Cat at the vet

Liver Disease in Cats

Liver disease in cats can be challenging to diagnose early as the symptoms are often subtle and non-specific initially. As the disease progresses, more noticeable signs may develop. Here are some symptoms that could indicate liver disease in cats:

  • Jaundice (Icterus): One of the most recognizable signs of liver disease is jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin, whites of the eyes, and mucous membranes.
  • Lethargy and Weakness
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Vomiting and Diarrhea
  • Increased Thirst and Urination
  • Distended Abdomen: Fluid accumulation in the abdomen can occur, causing a swollen belly.
  • Behavioral Changes: Cats may become more irritable or depressed
  • Neurological Signs: In advanced cases, toxins can build up in the bloodstream, affecting the brain and leading to neurological symptoms like disorientation, aimless wandering, excessive drooling, head pressing, or seizures.

If you notice any of these symptoms, especially in combination, it’s important to consult a veterinarian promptly. Early detection and treatment are essential in managing liver disease and can significantly affect the prognosis.

cat drinking water from a pipe

Urinary Tract Infections or Crystals in Cats

If a cat has a urinary tract infection (UTI) or crystals in their urine, they may drink more water to help flush out their system.

To recognize Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) or crystals in cats, observe for changes in urinary habits and signs of discomfort. Cats may use the litter box more often, produce less urine than usual, or strain while urinating. You might notice blood in their urine, which can appear pinkish or reddish. Affected cats often urinate outside the litter box, choosing cool, smooth surfaces. Excessive grooming or licking of the genital area is another common sign, indicating irritation or pain. Additionally, cats might vocalize more, especially when trying to urinate, due to discomfort. If you observe any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to consult a veterinarian promptly, as urinary issues can quickly become serious, especially if a urinary blockage occurs.


Certain medications can cause increased thirst as a side effect. For example, diuretics, which are often prescribed for heart conditions, can increase urination and thirst.

Psychogenic Polydipsia

Psychogenic Polydipsia is a behavioral condition where a cat drinks excessive amounts of water without a physiological need, and it’s often a diagnosis of exclusion. Recognizing it involves first ruling out medical causes of increased thirst through veterinary tests. Behavioral factors, including stress, anxiety, or changes in the environment, can contribute to this condition. A paper titled “Psychogenic Polydipsia in a Domestic Shorthair Cat” by Schwartz (JAAHA, 1992) details a case report of a cat with this condition, illustrating the process of excluding medical causes and addressing the behavioral issue. If you suspect your cat has Psychogenic Polydipsia, a thorough veterinary examination is essential, followed by possible consultation with a veterinary behaviorist for behavioral management strategies.


If you’ve noticed a sudden change in your cat’s drinking habits, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian. All of the conditions listed above are serious health concern for your cat and should be examined by a vet. They can perform tests to determine the cause and suggest an appropriate course of treatment. Early diagnosis and intervention can be crucial for managing many of the conditions associated with increased thirst in cats.

If you found this article useful, check our “why is my cat sneezing?” article on excessive sneezing in cats.



Maja Sebenik is a proud owner of a Dachshund named Bimba. With three years of experience working as a researcher for a pet magazine, Maja's love for animals runs deep. Through her heartfelt writing, Maja shares practical tips, advice, and heartwarming anecdotes to inspire fellow pet lovers. Join her on a journey to explore the wonders of the animal kingdom, one paw at a time.

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