Why is your cat drinking lots of water?

When the weather gets warmer, your cat will probably want to drink more water. However, on occasion, if your cat is drinking a lot it may signal an underlying problem. Read on to find out about your cat’s water intake, and how to spot any problems.
Cat drinking from tap
Cat drinking from tap
Cat drinking from tap

How much should cats drink?

Every cat is different, and each one will drink different amounts depending on their lifestyle, health, and environmental factors. For example, a cat that lives inside a cool house may not drink quite as much as a very active cat who spends a lot of time outside. Your vet will be able to tell you roughly how much water your cat needs based on their diet, lifestyle, and physical health.

Bear in mind that a lot of your cat’s water intake might come from their food. Wet cat food already contains some water, so a cat who has a wet food diet won’t need to drink as much as a cat who only eats dry food. Dry food contains very little water, so they need to make up for it by drinking enough. Your cat should instinctively know that they need more water and should drink enough to make up for it – after all, they feel thirst just like we do.

There are plenty of other factors that will affect how much your cat drinks. Like us, they’ll drink more if it’s hot, or if they’ve been physically very active, so take these things into account.

Signs of increased drinking

It can be difficult to keep an eye on your cat’s water intake. After all, we can’t watch them every minute of the day, and if you have more than one cat it’s almost impossible to tell who is eating and drinking what!

Rather than trying to measure how much liquid your cat drinks, look out for other signs that your cat is drinking a lot more than usual. The three main ones are:

  • Making more trips to the water bowl the usual
  • Needing their water bowl refilled more often
  • Drinking from unusual places, such as taps or ponds, if they haven’t before. (Many cats do this anyway, so if it’s normal behaviour for your cat, don’t worry!)
Cat drinking from bowl outside

Is my cat unwell?

Most cats are very good at covering up illnesses, so increased thirst could be the first sign you notice. If you think your cat is drinking a lot more than usual, look out for these other common signs:

  • Changes in appetite – eating more or less than usual
  • Changes in behaviour – for example, being aggressive when they’re usually calm
  • Changes in sleeping patterns – particularly if they sleep a lot, or sleep in unusual places
  • Sickness or diarrhoea

If you notice any of these symptoms, take your cat to see the vet.

What might cause a cat’s excessive thirst?

If your cat is drinking lots of water and showing other signs of illness, they should be checked and diagnosed by a vet. In particular, excessive thirst in cats can be a symptom of:

  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Urinary tract disease

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

If your cat is drinking excessively, and they don’t have any other unusual symptoms, try thinking about the cause. Is your house very warm? Are they only eating dry food? Has their drinking increased because it’s summer?

If you can clearly put your cat’s excessive drinking down to an environmental factor, it’s enough to keep an eye on their general health and behaviour. As long as your cat is healthy and happy, and they’re getting plenty of fresh water when they want it, they should be fine. You might want to make a note of it and ask your vet at their next check-up, just to put your mind at rest.

If your cat does appear to be unwell, book them in to see the vet as soon as possible. Remember to tell them that your cat has been drinking a lot, and note any other unusual symptoms. They will be able to diagnose your cat and find a possible treatment.

Other tips

If your cat is drinking a lot from unusual sources – such as dripping taps – make sure there’s nothing wrong with the water you give them to drink. Many cats will shy away from a water bowl that isn’t squeaky-clean, and like us, they much prefer fresh water.

If your cat has recently switched from wet food to dry food, they may experience increased thirst. Keep an eye on it, but bear in mind that cats who eat dry food do need to drink more.