Recent Increase in Thirst


My cat is 17 years old.  Just recently she seems to be drinking a lot more water. She seems healthy otherwise with no other changes.  Should this be something to be concerned about?


An increase in thirst (polydipsia), often accompanied by an increase in quantity of urination (polyuria) can be a sign of organic disease.  A normal cat typically does not drink more than 45 mls of water per kilogram of body weight per day.  This is about 200 mls or 6.8 ounces maximum per day for an average 10 pound cat.

The most common causes of organic disease (in order of frequency) for a senior cat are: kidney disease, thyroid disease, liver disease, and diabetes.  Uterine infection (intact female cats), kidney infection, behavioral causes, and even other hormone related diseases are also possible, although less likely.

I strongly recommend that you have your cat evaluated by a qualified veterinarian as well as obtain some base-line lab testing to help differentiate the underlying causes.  Each cause will lead to a specific set of treatment recommendations.  Most causes are manageable, while a few are even curable.  Many veterinarians advocate annual blood work, urinalysis, and blood pressure screening as part of a senior wellness program to screen for the common “old age” diseases, even if outward signs are not yet apparent.  In most cases, the sooner the condition is diagnosed and treatments are instituted, the better the long-term outcome.


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Max Conn, DVM is the owner of Cat & Exotic Care of the CentralCoast, a full service veterinary hospital dedicated to the special needs of cats, birds, reptiles and small mammals.  Cat & Exotic Care is located in PismoCoastPlaza, 565 Five Cities Drive, 805-773-0228.  More information can be found at


Disclaimer: The informational handouts and website links above are for informational purposes only, they are not intended to replace veterinary care.