Cats evolved as desert animals, and their bodies are very good at conserving water. So normally, cats don't drink very much. If you notice that your cat is suddenly drinking bowl after bowl of water, this is a sign that something is not right. Most often, excessive thirst is caused by diabetes, a condition that will require ongoing management to keep your cat in good health. Here's a closer look.
Why does diabetes make cats thirsty?
Diabetes is an inability of the body to bring sugar from the bloodstream into the cells. The body has to do something with all of the sugar in the blood, so it ends up being filtered out by the kidneys and then excreted in the urine. The kidneys end up working overtime to remove the sugar, excreting a lot of water in the process. Your cat becomes very thirsty because the kidneys are letting go of water faster than they can drink.
What should you do if you suspect your cat is diabetic?
Make an appointment with the vet as soon as possible. Diabetes can cause all sorts of side effects, from kidney failure to blindness, if left untreated. Your vet will probably want to see your cat either the same day or the next day. In the meantime, you may be instructed not to feed your cat anything other than plain, boiled chicken, and to continue letting him drink as much water as he wants. Most cat foods contain some carbohydrates, so they raise blood sugar levels. Chicken does not contain carbs, so it should not cause your cat's blood sugar levels to rise. You may be told not to feed your cat for a certain number of hours before your appointment so your vet can get accurate blood test results.
How is diabetes managed?
If the blood tests confirm that your cat is diabetic, your vet will recommend a specific diet that is low in carbohydrates. Generally, you'll have to avoid giving your cat any treats other than this special food and perhaps a little plain chicken now and then. You'll also need to give your cat regular insulin injections about once a day. Insulin is the hormone that triggers the cells to take sugar out of the bloodstream. It's what's lacking in diabetic cats. Your vet will show you how to give these shots.
Don't ignore your cat's excessive thirst. Seek vet care right away before symptoms get any worse.