- Eating primarily dry food
- Pregnancy or lactation
- Hot weather
- Excess dietary sodium
- Kidney disease
“Why does my cat drink so much water?” is often asked by owners of older cats, but not only. Excessive drinking is called polydipsia. Keep reading to learn about common causes of increased thirst in felines and what you can do to help them stay hydrated!
How Much Water Should a Cat Drink?
Cats should drink approximately 4 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight per day. The average cat weighs 10 pounds, so they need 1 cup of water daily. They may drink less if they eat wet food, or more if they’re very active.
So if you’re asking yourself “Why does my cat drink so much water?”, you should check if they’re really drinking more than a cup per day. If you think your cat is lapping more water than normal, speak with your veterinarian to rule out (or confirm) health problems that can lead to increased appetite and thirst.
Why Should Cats Drink Water?
In the wild, cats get most of the water they need from their prey. After all, raw meat is about 75% water. But most domestic kitties are fed primarily dry food, which can’t hydrate them well enough. Cats that are fed a mixed diet (dry and wet) only get around 20–30% of their daily water intake from their food, so they need to drink to make up the rest.
Staying hydrated keeps your cat’s kidneys healthy, just like yours. Kidneys are responsible for filtering out toxins from the body, so keeping them in good condition is vital.
Why Does My Cat Drink So Much Water? Common Causes
But what if your cat is really drinking a lot? What if you give them wet food every day, and yet they empty their water bowl quickly? Let’s take a look at potential underlying causes.
Your Cat Is Stressed
If you’re wondering “Why does my cat drink so much water?”, ask yourself if anything has recently changed in their environment. A stressed cat may drink more water than normal. Cats may feel stressed because of:
- a change in their routine;
- moving to a new home;
- the addition of a new pet to the family;
- the birth of a child.
When cats are stressed, they may lap up water compulsively to calm themselves down. If you think this is the case, a veterinary behaviorist may be able to help.
Your Cat Eats Dry Food
If dry food is a large part of your cat’s diet, they may drink more water to make up for the lack of moisture. You can try offering them 1–2 wet meals a day or giving them water-rich treats, such as chicken in plain broth. Overall, there’s no need to worry if they aren’t exceeding 1 cup of water per day.
Your Cat Is Pregnant or Lactating
Pregnant and nursing lactating cats need more water than normal due to the increased demand on their bodies. Drinking a lot helps them stay hydrated and support the growing kittens.
If your cat is pregnant or lactating, make sure she has access to fresh, clean water at all times. You can also increase the amount of wet food in her diet. “Why does my cat drink so much water if she’s spayed?” There are more possible reasons, read on!
Your Cat Is Hot
Cats are sensitive to heat and can easily become dehydrated in warm weather. If your cat is panting, it’s a sign they’re too hot and need to cool down. You can try turning on a fan or getting them a cooling pad to lie on.
Your Cat Is Eating Too Much Salt
Watch how much salt your cat is consuming. Too much can lead them to drink more water in order to expel the extra sodium from their body. Don’t give them any salted human food and provide plenty of fresh, clean water to drink. If you want added assurance, talk to a vet about what the ideal sodium level would be for your furry friend.
Your Cat Is Dehydrated
Dehydration occurs when cats don’t have enough fluids in their bodies. It can be a serious condition, and it can be caused by a variety of things, such as diarrhea, vomiting, and heat exposure. If you think your cat is dehydrated, it’s worth taking them to the vet.
Excessive Thirst Can Be a Sign of Illness
If your cat is suddenly drinking more water than normal, it’s called polydipsia, and it could be a sign that they’re sick. Some health conditions that can cause increased water intake are:
- kidney disease;
If you think your cat may be sick, take them to the vet for a diagnosis and treatment. For those asking themselves “Why does my cat drink so much water?”, here’s a list of medical conditions that can be the culprit.
Diabetes mellitus is a condition that affects the way the body metabolizes sugar. Cats with diabetes drink more water because their bodies are trying to get rid of the excess sugar in their blood. Untreated diabetes can lead to serious health problems, such as kidney disease and blindness.
If your cat has kidney disease, their kidneys are unable to concentrate urine as they should. Because of this, your pet loses more water through urination and needs to drink more to make up for it. Kidney disease needs prompt treatment, or it could become fatal.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland produces too much of its hormones. Cats with hyperthyroidism may drink more water and eat more food because their metabolism is faster than normal. This can be managed with medication.
What to Do If Your Cat Is Drinking a Lot of Water?
If your cat is drinking too much water, take them to the vet so they can be checked for medical conditions. The vet will likely do a physical exam and run some tests, such as a blood test and urine test. These tests can help to determine if there’s an underlying medical condition causing the increased water intake. Once your cat has a diagnosis, the vet will develop a treatment plan to help manage their condition.
In addition to medical treatment, there are a few things you can do at home to help your cat stay hydrated. Make sure they always have access to fresh, clean water. You can also try using a water fountain, which will provide them with fresh, moving water. You can also add wet food to their diet or give them ice cubes to play with and lick.
Why does my cat drink so much water? Now you know!
Our Reader’s StoryMy friend Sarah was worried about her cat, Coco. She had been drinking a lot of water lately, and Sarah was concerned that something was wrong. She took Coco to the vet, and the vet did some tests. To Sarah’s surprise, the vet told her that Coco was pregnant!
The vet explained that cats can go into heat and become pregnant without their owners realizing it, and that it was important to spay or neuter cats to prevent this from happening. Sarah was relieved to have an explanation for Coco’s increased thirst, but she was also worried about how she would take care of the kittens when they arrived.
Luckily, Sarah had a supportive network of friends and family who were able to help her prepare for the arrival of the kittens. Together, they bought the necessary supplies, and Sarah even found homes for the kittens before they were born.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Be Worried If My Cat Drinks a Lot of Water?
Only if it’s really a lot – more than a cup per day. Most cats won’t drink that much water; in fact, they’re more prone to not drinking enough. If they do empty their water bowl multiple times every day, and there isn’t summer heat to blame, you may want to consult with a vet.
What Is Considered Excessive Thirst in Cats?
Anything above 4 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight would be considered excessive water intake. Even less than that may be too much if your cat eats primarily wet food. Talk to your vet to determine your cat’s needs.
Does Dry Food Make Cats Thirsty?
Yes, dry food makes cats thirsty in two ways. First, it doesn’t contain as much water as their natural prey would. Second, sodium is added to commercial cat food in order to encourage cats to drink more water.
Is It Normal for Cats to Drink More Water as They Get Older?
Yes, it’s normal for cats to drink more water and eat less food as they get older. Their organs don’t work as effectively as they used to, and many cats have at least a mild form of kidney disease in their senior years.
Lucas Taylor is a veterinary assistant, freelance journalist and single dad who lives in the suburbs with his three pups: Ruby, Nala, and Woody. He has one cat named Pepper. When he’s not writing articles or working at the vet clinic, Lucas loves cooking French cuisine for himself and friends at home. One of Lucas’ favorite things to do is paddleboard with his son Noah and their canine companions. Pepper is the homebody of the bunch – she loves chilling on the couch.