Polydipsia in Cats: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Polydipsia in Cats

Polydipsia in Cats: Polydipsia refers to excessive thirst in cats. If your cat seems to be drinking way more water than usual, it could be a sign of an underlying condition that needs treatment.

Cats with polydipsia are often also polyuric, meaning they produce large volumes of dilute urine. Some possible causes of polydipsia and polyuria in cats include:

  • Diabetes mellitus: Excess sugar in the blood leads to increased thirst and urination. Weight loss and increased appetite are also common symptoms.
  • Chronic kidney disease: Kidney problems prevent proper water regulation and waste removal, causing increased thirst and urination.
  • Hyperthyroidism: An overactive thyroid gland speeds up metabolism and can cause increased thirst and urination. Weight loss, increased appetite and hyperactivity may also occur.
  • Other hormonal disorders: Imbalances in antidiuretic hormone or cortisol, for example, can disrupt water balance and lead to polydipsia.

If you notice your cat drinking more water than usual, the best course of action is to have your vet examine them as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment of the underlying condition can help prevent severe complications and keep your cat happy and healthy. With proper management, many cats with polydipsia go on to live long and fulfilling lives.

Don’t hesitate to call your vet right away if your cat shows other symptoms like lethargy, weakness, or seems distressed. They can check your cat over, run blood tests to determine the cause of the excessive thirst, and recommend appropriate treatment. By paying close attention to your cat’s water intake and overall health, you’re taking an important step towards keeping them well cared for during their lifetime.

Common Causes of Excessive Thirst in Cats

One of the first signs of a medical issue in cats is drinking more water than usual. Called polydipsia, excessive thirst can be a symptom of various conditions, some serious. As a caring cat owner, you’ll want to determine the underlying cause to get your feline friend the treatment they need.

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Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is a common cause of increased thirst in cats. The kidneys regulate fluid balance in the body, so when they’re not functioning properly, cats may drink more to compensate. Kidney disease can be acute or chronic. Catching it early is key, so if your cat’s thirst seems excessive, have your vet check their kidney values with a blood test. Treatment like IV fluids, medication, diet change or dialysis may help slow progression.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes causes high blood sugar which leads to increased thirst and urination. Diabetic cats may drink and pee frequently, often losing weight despite a good appetite. Your vet can diagnose diabetes with a blood test to check glucose levels. Treatment involves insulin injections, diet change, and weight loss. With proper management, diabetic cats can live comfortably for years.

Hyperthyroidism

An overactive thyroid gland produces excess hormones that increase metabolism and thirst. Hyperthyroidism usually affects older cats. Symptoms include increased thirst/appetite, hyperactivity, weight loss, and sometimes aggression. Blood tests can diagnose this condition, which is treatable with medication, surgery or radioactive iodine therapy.

Other Causes

Dehydration from not drinking enough, fever, hot weather, stress or a poor diet can also increase thirst temporarily. Some cats just drink more, so if your cat seems otherwise healthy, increased water intake may be normal for them. But any significant or persistent increase in thirst should be evaluated by a vet to determine if it’s a sign of an underlying medical issue needing treatment. Your cat’s health and quality of life depend on it.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Polydipsia

If your cat is drinking excessively, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of polydipsia right away. Increased thirst can be a sign of an underlying condition that requires veterinary care.

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You may notice your cat drinking frequently throughout the day, and consuming larger volumes of water than usual. Their water bowl may need to be refilled more often. Your cat may also be urinating more, as the increased water intake leads to increased urine production. You may find multiple wet spots where your cat has had accidents, or notice their litter box needs cleaning more frequently.

Other signs of polydipsia in cats include:

  • Excessive licking of surfaces like floors, walls or furniture. Cats will sometimes lick cool surfaces in an attempt to quench their thirst.
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss. The increased thirst may reduce your cat’s interest in food or make them feel full, resulting in decreased eating.
  • Lethargy or restlessness. The underlying cause of the polydipsia, such as kidney disease or diabetes, can make your cat feel unwell and less active.
  • Dry mouth or sticky saliva. Despite drinking more, the body may have trouble staying properly hydrated leading to signs of dehydration like dry mucous membranes in the mouth.
  • Sunken eyes. Dehydration can cause the eyes to appear slightly sunken into the skull.

If your cat is showing symptoms of polydipsia, especially if accompanied by other signs like increased urination, reduced appetite or lethargy, consult your vet. They can examine your cat, run blood tests if needed, and determine the underlying cause of the excessive thirst to recommend appropriate treatment. The sooner the condition is diagnosed and managed, the better your cat’s prognosis will be.

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Treatment Options for Polydipsia in Cats

If your cat is diagnosed with polydipsia, the good news is there are several treatment options available. The specific treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your cat’s increased thirst.

1. Treat the Underlying Condition

The vet will first want to determine if there’s an underlying condition causing your cat’s polydipsia, such as diabetes, kidney disease or hyperthyroidism. If so, treating the underlying condition should help resolve the increased thirst. This may involve insulin injections, medication, diet change or even surgery.

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2. Fluid Therapy

If your cat is dehydrated from drinking too much water, the vet may give intravenous (IV) fluids to restore hydration. The vet will also look for any electrolyte imbalances and correct them. Providing IV fluids is especially important for senior cats or those with additional medical issues.

3. Medication

In some cases, medication may be used to help regulate water intake. Desmopressin acetate, commonly known as DDAVP, is a synthetic hormone that can be used to reduce urine output and thirst. Other drugs that may help include chlorothiazide diuretics, glucocorticoids like prednisone, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

4. Environmental Changes

Making some changes to your cat’s environment may help in certain situations. This includes:

  • Providing multiple water bowls in different areas so your cat doesn’t have to go far to get a drink. This can be especially helpful for senior or arthritic cats.
  • Using timed, automatic pet feeders and waterers. This gives your cat access to food and water but controls the amount, which may help reduce excessive drinking.
  • Increasing playtime and interactive feeders to provide mental stimulation. Sometimes boredom or anxiety can lead to excessive drinking, so keeping your cat’s mind active may help.
  • Providing a calming space. For anxious cats, a safe space with Feliway diffusers can help reduce stress and the urge to drink excessively.

The prognosis for polydipsia in cats depends on the underlying cause. With proper diagnosis and treatment, many cats can go on to live normal lives with well-regulated water intake and no lasting complications. But in some cases, lifelong management and monitoring may be required. The key is to get your cat checked out by the vet as soon as you notice the increased thirst.