Increased thirst in cats may be nothing to worry about. However, it is also a common sign of some underlying medical conditions so it may be worth checking up with your vet. Whilst many cats are secretive creatures – especially outdoor cats – noticing a change in drinking behaviour however small, can be important. 

How much is too much?

Polydipsia is the medical term used to describe excess drinking, and is defined as consuming more than 100ml of water per kilogram (kg) of body weight per 24 hour day. So, for example, if you have a 4kg cat, they would be considered to be drinking too much if they drank more than 400ml of water per day. 

How can I tell if my cat is drinking too much?

Below are a few simple methods you can use to determine whether your cat is drinking too much; as well as some other behaviours to look out for which may be a hint that your feline is extra thirsty! 

1) Measuring water intake

You can determine the volume of water your cat is drinking per day either by measuring the amount of water in the bowl at the beginning versus the end of the day, or using a water bowl with measurements already provided.

Remember with any method that involves measuring from a water bowl you must account for spillages or other pets drinking from the same water bowl as this may affect your results! 

2) Change in drinking behaviour

If you notice your cat drinking from strange sources (e.g. taps, water glasses, damp flower pots etc.) it may be a sign your cat is dehydrated and trying to find water anywhere that they can. 

3) Increased urination 

For indoor cats, a sign that they might be peeing more is that their litter tray is much wetter than usual, or even that they are urinating inside where they shouldn’t! Also, you might notice that your cat appears to be urinating more frequently or for long periods of time. 

Increased urination (medical term polyuria) often goes hand in hand with increased drinking (polydipsia), which may seem obvious, but there are some medical conditions which can cause one or both of these signs. It is important to try and decipher which sign you are noticing (increased drinking or urinating or both) as this will help your vet to identify if there is a problem – and if so, what! – much easier. 

Why is my cat drinking more?

There are a number of non-medical reasons your cat may be drinking more than usual including: 

  • Switching from wet to dry food
  • Particularly warm weather – or you have suddenly put the heating on!
  • Certain medications (e.g. steroids and diuretics).

However, it is important to be aware that there are some medical reasons too. The most common conditions associated with polydipsia are:

Two of the most common toxins your cat may come into contact with are lilies and antifreeze. Although lilies may seem beautiful flowers to have in your home, they are poisonous to cats. Whilst they are unlikely to want to eat them, young or adventurous cats may unfortunately try to nibble or play with them, whilst antifreeze is sweet tasting so often appealing to cats if spilt. You should call your vet immediately if you think your cat may have ingested either of these dangerous toxins. And be prepared to take them into the vets ASAP. The sooner they can get help, the better the outcome is likely to be.

Although noticing a change in your cats’ drinking habits may be nothing to worry about, we always suggest speaking to a vet to ensure your cat is happy and healthy and to give you peace of mind too!

Further Reading