Polydipsia In Cats

by Tara Green, Demand Media
    Excessive thirst may signal cat health problems.

    Excessive thirst may signal cat health problems.

    As a responsible cat owner, notice how much water your feline companion consumes. Cats who drink large volumes of water may have polydipsia, a condition which in turn causes polyuria or increased urination. These behaviors are often symptoms of a serious underlying health condition.

    Diagnosis

    Your veterinarian will examine your cat and run some tests to learn the cause of these symptoms. With a female cat, he will also check for any vaginal discharge. He may determine a liver and kidney condition by palpating the abdominal area. He can also tell whether the thyroid is affected by palpating the throat. If he detects thyroid abnormalities, the vet will order a total T4 test to check for thyroid function. Additionally, the vet may order tests including urinalysis, a CBC (complete blood count), X-rays or ultrasound.

    Possible Underlying Causes

    Polydipsia/polyuria symptoms accompany a wide range of underlying health conditions. Your vet will use the examination and tests to determine among several possible causes: chronic renal failure, diabetes mellitus or diabetes insipidus, hyperthyroidism, high blood calcium concentration and liver disease (hypercalcemia). In female cats, polydipsia may indicate a uterine infection known as pyometra. Other possibilities include low blood potassium levels, Cushing's disease or a pituitary tumor causing an adult cat to secrete excess growth hormone. Also, if the pet is already on medication which removes fluid from the body, this can cause polydipsia.

    Treatment

    Treatment of polydipsia/polyuria varies depending on the underlying condition. Immediate treatment using intravenous saline solution and diuretics is necessary if the symptoms stem from hypercalcemia. If renal failure has been eliminated as a possible cause, the vet may have you deprive your cat of water for a brief period so he can see how this affects urine volume.

    Management

    If polydipsia/polyuria results from an underlying disease, the vet may prescribe medication and/or suggest appropriate dietary modifications. In cases where no underlying health condition is apparent, the vet may recommend behavior modification, limiting the cat's water intake to a level which keeps the animal hydrated without stressing the kidneys.

    Conclusion

    There is no guaranteed method of preventing polydipsia/polyuria. Being attentive to changes in your pet's drinking habits can help you notice the symptoms quickly. This is important as some of the causes of polydipsia, such as hypercalcemia, can constitute a veterinary emergency.

    Photo Credits

    • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images