Water is essential for life. And our cats, just like us, need to drink water every day to stay healthy. So if you notice that your cat won’t drink water, it’s time to take action.

But did you know that a cat drinking a lot of water can be a sign of a health issue? Especially elderly cats can suffer from medical conditions that cause them to drink more water than usual. For that reason, it’s important to consult your vet if you notice that your cat drinks a lot of water. Read more about why your cat may be drinking too much water, and what you can do to help your feline friend.

How much water should a cat drink?

Due to their desert origins, cats’ bodies are adapted to live on relatively small amounts of water and therefore don’t drink large amounts water on a daily basis. But fresh water is still important to your furry friend’s health. 

A cat weighing 10 pounds should drink between seven to nine ounces of water each day – that’s around one cup of water. Smaller cats consume less water, and larger cats drink a bit more.

Your cat’s activity level and the climate where you live can affect the amount of water that your cat drinks each day. A very active kitty who spends time outdoors patrolling their territory on a hot summer day might drink a bit more. A sedentary cat that relaxes all day in an air-conditioned home would drink less. 

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Does your cat eat dry food or wet food? The type of food your cat eats may also influence how much water they need each day. Cats that eat dry food will usually drink more water than cats that eat wet canned food. Cats who eat wet food get a portion of their daily water needs from their food. 

How to tell if your cat drinks a lot of water

How can you tell if your cat is actually drinking excessively? It can be tough to pinpoint, especially if you have multiple cats sharing a water bowl. 

Unless you want to isolate your kitty and carefully measure how much water they drink per day, you’ll have to look for other clues to determine if your cat drinks excessively. In general, you can look for these signs of increased water intake:

  • Your cat visits the water bowl more often than they used to
  • The water bowl empties out often and needs to be refilled
  • Your cat starts drinking from places they had not drank from before, such as faucets, ponds, puddles, or the toilet. (If your cat has always had these drinking habits, there’s no need to worry).
  • Your cat visits the litter box or urinates more frequently 
white and beige cat drinking water

Why is my cat drinking so much water?

There are several possible reasons for a cat drinking a lot of water.

  • In warm or hot weather, cats will often boost their water intake, especially if they spend time outdoors. During these times, beware of heat stroke in cats.
  • Increased physical activity can also spur your cat to drink more water. Tip: you can see exactly how active your cat is (and where they go) with a GPS cat tracker.
  • Some medications, such as diuretics which are prescribed to treat heart disease, can cause cats to drink more water than usual. 

If none of these scenarios describe your cat’s situation, you may have a more serious problem on your hands: The most common reason that cats drink excessive amounts of water is that they have an underlying medical issue. 

Read on to learn more about the health problems that can cause a cat to drink a lot of water.

Medical Issues that cause cats to drink more water

Certain medical conditions can cause your cat to drink more water than they usually do. If you suspect that your cat has any of these conditions, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Diabetes mellitus

Diabetes mellitus occurs when your cat’s body can’t properly process the glucose (sugars) in their food, meaning that the glucose is unavailable to fuel the body’s systems. This results in high sugar levels in the blood, which leads your kitty to drink more water to dilute the sugars. Cats with diabetes may become lethargic and lose weight in spite of eating more food. 

Older cats and overweight cats are most likely to become diabetic. By helping your kitty maintain a healthy weight, you can reduce their chances of becoming diabetic.

If diabetes mellitus is suspected, your veterinarian will collect blood and urine samples to measure the glucose levels in your cat’s body. Diabetes mellitus in cats is treated similarly to diabetes in humans. Treatments include changes in diet or administering insulin.

Diabetes is a long-term illness that will require repeated visits to the vet and frequent monitoring by you. With proper care, diabetes in cats can be successfully treated.

Urinary tract disease

Also known as cystitis, urinary tract disease is caused by inflammation in the bladder. As a result of this inflammation, your cat becomes unable to pass urine and may be in pain. 

Urinary tract disease can be caused by an infection or more commonly, by stress. Cats with urinary tract disease may urinate outside of the litter box, appear to strain when urinating, have blood in their urine, or lick their genital area more often than usual.

Your veterinarian may recommend pain relief medication for your cat’s urinary tract infection. Because stress can contribute to urinary tract infections, it may also help to reduce stress in the home. Try providing separate food bowls and litter boxes for each cat in the home to minimize territorial skirmishes. Giving your kitty a safe and private sleeping area way from other pets can also help to reduce stress.

Urinary tract infections can become a chronic problem in cats and may require ongoing treatment. Your veterinarian can provide guidance for managing this condition in your cat.

Chronic kidney disease

Proper kidney function is vital for your cat’s health. The kidneys remove toxins from the blood, help to regulate blood pressure, and produce hormones that tell the body to produce new red blood cells. 

As cats age, it is not unusual for them to experience chronic kidney disease, where the kidney function begins to decline. This decline may occur gradually over months or even years.

Cats with chronic kidney disease often drink more water due to increased thirst as their kidneys struggle to function properly. Cats with chronic kidney disease may also become lethargic and lose their appetite as the toxins that are normally removed by the kidneys start to build up in their body.

Chronic kidney disease in cats can be caught early through blood tests and urine tests. Veterinarians often perform these tests routinely as cats age. Treatment may include changes in your kitty’s diet or special medication. 

Liver disease

Excessive thirst can also be a sign of liver disease in cats. The liver plays an important role in your cat’s health by controlling many of the chemical processes needed for normal bodily function. 

Aside from drinking more water than normal, cats with liver disease will often exhibit jaundice. With jaundice, the eyes and mucus membranes take on a yellowish hue. The abdomen may also swell due to a buildup of fluid. 

Liver disease can be controlled if it is caught early. Dietary changes can help reduce the liver’s workload and slow the disease’s progress, but liver disease is complex and will need ongoing treatment from your veterinarian. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does my cat have a problem?

Like most animals, cats are experts at hiding their illnesses. It’s up to you as a pet parent to pay close attention to any changes in your cat’s daily habits, including if they start drinking excessively. Other signs of illness that you can watch for include:

  • Changes in appetite, such as eating more or less than normal
  • Behavior changes including feline aggression
  • Changes in sleeping patterns, such as your cat sleeping more than normal, or sleeping in unusual locations
  • Diarrhea or other signs of illness

If you see any of the above conditions in your cat, or you are concerned about changes in your cat’s daily habits, plan a visit to the veterinarian. He or she can help to rule out underlying medical issues and advise you on the best way to care for your furry friend if a medical issue is discovered during an exam.

Pro Tip: Track your cat’s location, activity, sleep and overall wellness with a Tractive Cat Tracker.

What should I do if my cat is drinking a lot?

If you notice that your cat is drinking excessively, your cat’s water intake has increased, or their drinking habits have changed in other noticeable ways, contact your veterinarian. The vet can run tests to determine if your kitty has an underlying problem that requires treatment. Always follow your veterinarian’s instructions to help your pet recover and regain their health.

As a devoted cat parent, you know what is “normal” for your cat. Never hesitate to report unusual behaviors or sudden changes in your cat’s daily habits to your veterinarian. As a responsible pet parent, you are the first line of defense for your cat’s health. By paying close attention to your kitty, you can ensure that your furry friend will live a long and healthy life.