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Is your cat drinking a lot of water and meowing more than usual? Increased vocalizations and changes to your cat’s thirst are both two common signs of medical conditions. Therefore, seeing your cat exhibit these behavior changes can be worrying for owners.
In scientific terms, drinking too much water is known as polydipsia, and it is usually caused by some sort of kidney dysfunction. Other possible causes include hyperthyroidism and diabetes mellitus. Both of these are common conditions in cats, especially older felines.
If you have noticed excessive drinking and meowing in your cat, you’re in the right place. In this article, I look at all these medical conditions and more in more detail, including other symptoms and treatments options. I also look at some non-medical reasons why your cat could be drinking more and help you identify when you need to worry.
How Much Water Is Too Much for a Cat?
Before we look at all the possible medical reasons why your cat is obsessed with water and meowing, it is important to establish what amount of water is considered excessive. Generally, cats are known for not drinking enough and so what you may think is excessive is actually a healthy amount!
According to veterinarians, if your cat is drinking over 100ml of water per kilogram in body weight per day then they are drinking too much. For example, an average cat that weighs 4kg should be drinking no more than 400ml of water per day.
If you think your cat is drinking too much, you can monitor your cat’s water intake and compare it against this figure. To do this, follow the below steps:
- Fill your cat’s water bowl to the brim.
- Pour the contents of the bowl into a measuring jug and make note of the maximum capacity of your cat’s water bowl.
- Pour the water back into the bowl and leave it for 24 hours for your cat to drink from.
- After 24 hours have passed, pour the remaining water back into the measuring jug and measure how much is remaining.
- Subtract this number from the maximum capacity of the bowl to work out how much water your cat has drunk that day.
If you monitor your cat’s water intake and it is over 100ml per kilogram of body weight then you should take them to see a veterinarian. However, even if your cat is drinking less than this but is still showing other behavioral changes or symptoms of sickness it is still a good idea to see a medical professional.
What Medical Conditions Can Lead to Excessive Drinking?
If you have established that your cat is drinking too much water, you need to take them to the veterinarian. This is especially true if your cat is drinking lots of water and not eating or if you notice any other symptoms in combination. When cats meow excessively it also almost always means something is wrong and they are trying to communicate this to you.
Below we look at some of the possible disorders your vet may identify, along with other symptoms and treatment options.
1. Kidney Disease
Whenever any cat is drinking a lot of water and meowing excessively, your vet will first look at kidney function. Kidney disease is common in cats and one of the biggest killers so it is important to diagnose the condition as soon as possible. They will do this by performing blood and urine tests.
But how is kidney disease linked to increased thirst? Well, the kidneys are responsible for filtering water, waste, and toxins out of the blood to form urine. Cats with kidney disease can no longer produce concentrated urine and so a lot of water is lost from the body every time they pee. Thirst then increases to compensate for this. Other symptoms include:
- Urinating outside the litter box
- Urinating frequently and excessively
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Weakness and lethargy
- Recurrent bladder and kidney infections
- Unexplained weight loss in cats
If your vet does diagnose your cat with kidney disease, try not to panic. Although any damage already done to the kidneys cannot be reversed, the disease is manageable and can be prevented from getting worse. This is usually done through diet, ensuring your cat eats food low in both protein and phosphorus. Phosphate binders can also be administered to help reduce the amount of waste the kidneys need to filter.
Hyperthyroidism is a common feline condition, especially in elderly cats. This is where the thyroid gland found in your cat’s neck is overactive and produces more than a usual amount of the hormone thyroid. This hormone is important in metabolism regulation and speeds up the body’s physiological processes.
Because cats with hyperthyroidism have a faster metabolism, cats tend to have an increased appetite and thirst accompanied by weight loss. The increase in thirst can lead to an increase in urination as well. Your cat may also suffer from bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, causing them to drink even more as they try to compensate for the fluid they have lost.
Your cat will need treatment if they have hyperthyroidism, but there are a few different options available which your veterinarian may recommend:
- Anti-Thyroid Medication: This offers temporary control of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, but the medication will need to be administered every day for the rest of your cat’s life. The drugs suppress the overactivity so normal levels of thyroid are in the body.
- Iodine Therapy: This is a curative treatment option that involves an injection of radioactive iodine into their body. This iodine is taken up by the thyroid gland which destroys the overactive thyroid cells. Most cats that receive this treatment are cured within 3 months.
- Surgical Removal: Another curative option is the surgical removal of the enlarged thyroid gland. However, this is much more invasive than iodine therapy and so is best avoided where possible.
3. Diabetes Mellitus
Another reason why your cat is drinking a lot of water and meowing excessively could be due to diabetes mellitus. Like hyperthyroidism, this is another hormonal condition. This time it is the hormone insulin that is imbalanced. Cats with diabetes either don’t produce enough of the hormone insulin or their bodies stop responding to it as they should.
Insulin is crucial for the control of blood sugar levels and so cats with diabetes will have high blood glucose levels. They are unable to absorb the glucose from the blood and use it as an energy source. This increases thirst as the body tries to dilute the blood and lower the concentration of glucose.
Other symptoms of feline diabetes include an increase in appetite as cats try to get more energy from food. Despite this, weight loss is frequently seen as cats cannot absorb the sugar from the food they are eating. With that being said, if you see your older cat not eating but drinking this too could be due to diabetes mellitus.
Diabetes treatment is not curative but the condition can easily be managed. Vets will usually prescribe insulin injections followed by regular check-ups to ensure the medication is working. Controlled diets can also go a long way in helping to alleviate symptoms.
4. Liver Disease
The liver is one of the most versatile organs in the body and carries out multiple essential functions. Examples include the metabolism of fats, the synthesis of proteins and hormones, and the removal and metabolism of waste and toxic products.
Because of its role in metabolism, waste removal, and digestion, its dysfunction can cause several varied symptoms. One of these is a cat drinking lots of water and not eating. Excessive meowing and vocalizations are also common as your cat tried to communicate what is wrong. Others include weakness and lethargy, yellowing of the skin, vomiting and diarrhea, and weight loss.
Liver disease in cats can be fatal and needs to be treated promptly. However, how effective treatments are in disease management does depend on the type of liver disease your cat is suffering from. Here is a look at some of the common feline liver diseases and their treatments:
- Neutrophilic Cholangitis: This is a bacterial infection that travels to from the small intestine and infects the liver, causing inflammation. It can be treated by antibiotics and can usually be cured if treated promptly.
- Hepatic Lipidosis: This is where a large amount of fat accumulates inside the liver cells and causes swelling. It is usually caused by an underlying condition that needs treatment, and the liver disease is managed through a controlled diet and nutritional support. Cats can make a full recovery, but it can take several months.
- Liver Tumors: Either benign or malignant tumors can form on any part of the liver and cause dysfunction. In cats, most are benign but still need to be surgically removed so the liver’s function can return to normal.
5. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Finally, it could be that your cat is drinking a lot of water and meowing as they have a UTI. It is quite common for cats to develop a urinary tract infection at some point in their life. They happen when bacteria travel up the urethra and infect the bladder. This can happen to any cat but is much more common if cats have diabetes or kidney disease.
Two of the most usual symptoms of a UTI are excessive drinking and vocalization. Your cat will usually meow more when going to their litter box as urinating is causing them pain. Both of these symptoms are exacerbated if the cat does suffer from diabetes and/or kidney disease as well.
Other symptoms of UTIs you may notice include:
- Straining and pain when peeing
- Blood in the urine and litter box
- Refusal to use the litter box
- Peeing small but frequently
- Excessive grooming of the genital areas
Thankfully, a urinary tract infection is easy to treat. Your vet can prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs for pain relief along with antibiotics to fight off the infection. All cats that receive treatment should recover without any complications.
Why Else Is My Cat Drinking a Lot and Meowing?
If your cat is not sick and your veterinarian cannot find anything wrong with your pet then you can relax. Your cat might just be drinking more because of environmental changes. For example, you have changed something about the water or that they are more dehydrated that day. Here is a look at some examples of this in a little more detail.
1. New Water Fountain
Many owners find that their cats like running water more than drinking from a still bowl. This is an instinctive behavior that is ingrained in their DNA. In the wild, stagnant water is often full of bacteria and can make cats sick, whereas running water is fresher and cleaner. This preference has been passed down to domestic cats through years of evolution.
Therefore, purchasing stainless steel cat water fountains, ceramic cat water fountains, or any other type of product that offers a steady flow of water will usually cause your cat to up its water intake. They instinctively view this as fresh and healthy, plus the sounds and splashes can make it more exciting for cats to drink from.
2. New Diet
Cats get a lot of their water through their diet if they wat wet cat food. Therefore, changes to your cat’s diet could see them eating more. If you usually feed your cat wet food but have recently switched to dry cat food, it is normal to see your cat water intake increase. This is to compensate for the lack of water they are now getting through their diet.
3. Recovery from Illness
If your cat is drinking a lot of water and meowing, it could be that they are recovering from a less severe illness than the ones I have discussed above. For example, a cat that has recently been vomiting or has diarrhea will likely be dehydrated as they have lost a lot of fluid from their bodies. They will then drink somewhat excessively as they are trying to compensate for the fluid loss.
Cats recovering from illness may meow more than usual too. It is common for vocalizations to increase when cats are sick, and if your cat is dehydrated then they won’t be feeling 100% themselves. Your cat’s behavior should return to normal within a few days.
4. Hot Weather
Lastly, hot weather could cause your cat’s thirst to increase. Their bodies will lose more water in hot weather and need more to help them stay nice and cool. As such, your will likely see your cat drink a lot more on a hot summer’s day than a cold winter’s night.
If your cat is hot and uncomfortable, it is highly likely they will meow more frequently to let you know they are too warm. Try and ensure your cat has access to plenty of water and set up a cool room in your home that your cat can lie down in if needed. Also, while the weather is very warm and your cat is showing signs of being too hot it is important to not encourage high-intensity exercise.
Why Is My Cat Meowing When Drinking?
The combination of meowing and excessive drinking is usually a concerning sign. Cats only meow to humans, and excessive vocalizations are common when cats are sick. It is their way of saying they aren’t feeling 100% and need your help.
With that being said, they could be meowing simply as they don’t like something about their water bowl. For example, if you are wondering “Why does my cat paw at her water bowl and meow?”, it could be that she thinks the bowl is empty and is using her paws to test the water level. This is accompanied by meowing as your cat is telling you they are thirsty.
A spill-proof cat bowl could be a worthwhile investment if this sounds like an issue you’re facing. These bowls won’t tip over and can prevent your cat from making a mess. If not, battery-operated cat water fountains or AC-power alternatives are a great solution. This could discourage your cat from splashing while simultaneously mimicking running water.
On the other hand, your cat might be meowing as they love their water setup! Have you just put down a fresh bowl of water? Maybe they’re saying thank you! Have you just got an exciting new water fountain? Maybe they completely love it! We may never know exactly what our cats are trying to communicate, but as long as they’re happy and healthy this doesn’t really matter.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
If your cat is drinking a lot of water and meowing, it is usually a sign that something is wrong. Your cat could have diabetes, kidney disease, liver issues, hyperthyroidism, or a UTI. These all need prompt medical treatment, so take your cat to the vet as soon as possible.
However, don’t forget that your cat could be drinking more because of environmental changes such as hot weather or a dry food diet. Keep an eye out for other symptoms and monitor your cat’s water intake if you’re unsure. Anything over 100ml per kilogram of body weight per day is classified as polydipsia, but anything less is a healthy amount for them to drink.