Is anything more frightening for a cat owner than watching a beloved kitty struggle with health issues? Drinking lots of water and urinating frequently may indicate your cat has a problem, so have your veterinarian examine him. And then pat yourself on the back for noticing something was amiss.
First, a warning: changes in eating, drinking and elimination habits often indicate illness and require a trip to the vet. That said, there are circumstances in which your cat may be extra thirsty but still healthy. If it's uncommonly hot in his environment, he's been playing more than usual or his dietary intake has changed -- say, you've started feeding him dry food rather than water-rich canned food -- he may need more water than usual to compensate. If your cat shows any signs of water weirdness at all, try scrubbing out or replacing his bowl to eliminate bacteria, viruses and other nasties that can affect his health.
Is your feline friend over the hill? If so, hyperthyroidism may be behind his constant drinking and urinating, as it strikes mostly older cats with an average age of 13, according to Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. This occurs when your cat's thyroid glands produce more hormones than necessary. His heart begins to work overtime, pumping more blood and contracting faster. Because blood flows rapidly through his system, his kidneys have to work harder, filtering wastes more often. This produces more urine, which means kitty pees more than usual and needs extra water to compensate.The good news is hyperthyroidism is highly treatable, either through surgery, radioactive-iodine treatments or medication.
Feline diabetes, an extremely common condition, tends to affect male, overweight and older cats. If poor Mr. Whiskers' body doesn't handle insulin correctly, diabetes is the result. When the sugar level in Mr. Whiskers' blood gets too high, his kidneys have to work harder and can't always reabsorb the it. What does this mean for Mr. Whiskers? Glucose, through a process called osmosis, pulls water from other parts of kitty's body, which he then has to pee out. The more he pees, the thirstier he'll get, because his body is trying to replenish lost fluids. Like hyperthyroidism, diabetes is treatable. You may have to modify Mr. Whiskers' diet for the rest of his life, and he may need insulin shots or pills, but isn't he worth it?
Kidney disease isn't just a risk for older cats. Parasites, infections, poison -- all of these can cause your cat's kidneys to struggle and shut down. The kidneys are responsible for filtering wastes from your cat's blood and excreting them in urine. When they don't function properly, it affects how often your cat pees. If he pees too much, he'll become dehydrated and need water to replace the fluid he's lost. Kidney disease can be acute, as in it occurs suddenly and with little warning, or it can be chronic, which leads to a less noticeable, slower decline. Depending on the cause of Mr. Whiskers' kidney troubles, there may be hope. If he's given fluids and his underlying condition is treated, there's a chance to reverse renal failure. And then Mr. Whiskers will be munching down on a new-and-improved special diet for the rest of his years.
Watch carefully for additional signs of cat distress. If your male cat is trying to pee frequently but nothing or very little is coming out, he may have urine crystals or stones blocking his ability to urinate. Is your pretty pet's coat dull? Does he throw up or have diarrhea? Does he have any problems breathing? Is he less playful or does he seem extra tired? If so, these are all signs of serious illness. Get thee to a veterinarian! Posthaste!
- UC Davis Veterinary Medicine: Provide Basic Care Such as Food, Water and Shelter
- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Hyperthyroidism in the Cat
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Feline Diabetes
- The Merck Veterinary Manual: Chronic Kidney Disease
- The Merck Veterinary Manual: Urine Sediment
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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