Do Cats Guzzle Water When They Have a UTI?


A urinary tract infection (UTI) in cats is a bacterial infection of any part of the urinary system, including the bladder, urethra, ureters, and kidneys. The most common symptoms of a UTI in cats include:

  • Frequent and painful urination
  • Urinating in small amounts or straining to urinate
  • Blood in the urine
  • Excessive licking of the genital area
  • Crying out while urinating
  • Inappropriate urination outside the litter box

UTIs in cats can be caused by bacteria ascending from the urethra into the bladder or spreading through the bloodstream from other areas of the body. Left untreated, UTIs can lead to more severe kidney infections and damage. Catching a UTI early and getting prompt veterinary treatment is important for relieving a cat’s discomfort and preventing complications.

Why Cats Tend to Drink More with a UTI

When cats develop a urinary tract infection (UTI), they often start drinking significantly more water as a result. This is primarily due to the pain, inflammation, and irritation caused by the infection itself.

Within the urinary tract, the bacteria from the infection cause localized swelling, which presses on the sensitive nerve endings in the bladder and urethra. This leads to a persistent feeling of urgency and discomfort, even if the cat just went to the litter box.

To try to flush out the bacteria causing the irritation, the cat’s body triggers an increased thirst reflex. The more water the cat drinks, the more they will urinate, helping to clear the infection. As a result, cats with UTIs may drink 2-3 times their normal intake of water.

In addition, the minerals and compounds in urine can further irritate the inflamed urinary tract lining when concentrated. Drinking more water leads to more diluted urine, reducing this irritation during urination as well.

So in short, the pain, inflammation, and irritation from the UTI leads to a strong urge for cats to drink more water than usual. Monitoring water intake can therefore be an early sign of a potential urinary tract infection.

Monitoring Water Intake

It’s important to monitor your cat’s water intake to determine if they are drinking more than usual. Look for increases compared to their normal water consumption. According to My Altadena Veterinary Hospital, healthy cats typically drink around 4 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight per day. For a 10 pound cat, that’s about 8 ounces or 1 cup of water daily.

To monitor intake, take note of how much water you refill each day. Use the same water bowl so you have a consistent measurement. Track the amounts over the course of a week to establish a baseline for your cat. That way, if your cat starts drinking significantly more water than usual, you’ll notice the change.

It’s a good idea to monitor intake for a sick cat too. Increased thirst can indicate that the infection or illness is getting worse and may need additional veterinary treatment. Track amounts carefully and alert your vet if you notice significant increases in water consumption.

Causes of Increased Thirst

There are several potential causes for increased thirst in cats. Some of the most common include:

  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): One of the most frequent causes of increased water intake in cats is a UTI. The infection causes inflammation in the urinary tract, leading to pain and frequent, painful urination. To help flush out bacteria, cats will often drink more water when they have a UTI (1).
  • Kidney Disease: Kidney disease is a common issue for older cats. As the kidneys struggle to function properly, toxins build up in the bloodstream. This triggers thirst as the body tries to dilute the toxins. Cats with kidney disease tend to drink significantly more water than usual (1).
  • Diabetes: With diabetes, the body loses its ability to regulate blood sugar levels. To combat high blood sugar, the kidneys try to flush out excess sugar by increasing urination. This leads to increased thirst and water consumption in diabetic cats (1).
  • Hyperthyroidism: An overactive thyroid gland leads to a condition called hyperthyroidism. It speeds up metabolism, leading to weight loss despite increased appetite. Hyperthyroid cats also drink more water to compensate for their revved-up systems (1).

If your cat is drinking significantly more water than usual, it’s important to rule out potential medical issues. Schedule a vet visit to test for problems like UTIs, kidney disease, diabetes or hyperthyroidism. Treating the underlying cause is key to getting your cat’s water intake back to normal.


Treating the Root Cause

It’s important to treat the underlying cause of a UTI in cats to prevent recurrence and complications. The most effective treatment is antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian. Common antibiotics used for cat UTIs include Amoxicillin, Cephalexin, Enrofloxacin, and Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole ( Antibiotics treat the bacterial infection causing the UTI and prevent it from progressing to the kidneys. Treatment duration is typically 7-14 days.

In addition to antibiotics, veterinarians may prescribe pain medication to help with discomfort. Hospitalization for IV fluids may be required for cats who are not drinking enough water. Cats with recurrent UTIs may need further testing and imaging to identify underlying causes.

While home remedies may provide some relief, antibiotics are essential for clearing bacterial infections. Do not stop antibiotic treatment early even if symptoms improve. Work closely with your vet to ensure the UTI is fully cured.

Encouraging Drinking

Getting a cat with a UTI to drink more water can help flush bacteria from their urinary tract. Here are some tips to encourage drinking:

Offer wet food: Canned/wet cat food has a high moisture content. Feeding wet food, or adding water to dry food, can increase fluid intake.

Use a cat fountain: Cats prefer running water, so a pet fountain with continuously flowing water may entice them to drink more.

Try flavored waters: Adding tuna juice, bone broth, or low-sodium chicken broth to water can make it more appealing. Ice cubes made with broth are another option.

Give access to multiple bowls: Having water bowls in several locations makes it more convenient for cats to drink regularly throughout the day.

Frequently refresh water: Cats dislike stale water. Replenish water bowls 2-3 times a day to keep the water fresh.

Use wide, shallow bowls: Wide, shallow bowls allow cats easier access to water. Bowls designed for cats with lower sides and wider openings work best.

Give treats to reward drinking: Giving treats after a cat drinks can positively reinforce the behavior and motivate them to drink more often.

With patience and creativity, cat owners can find ways to get their cats drinking more. Monitoring intake is key, and consulting a vet if dehydration is suspected.

Dietary Considerations

Diet can play an important role in promoting hydration and preventing UTIs in cats. Two key dietary considerations include:

Wet Food – Feeding wet or canned cat food, instead of dry kibble, is highly recommended. Canned foods have much higher moisture content, which can help cats stay hydrated. Look for grain-free canned foods and try to avoid those high in carbohydrates. Offering wet food instead of dry kibble may encourage your cat to consume more water.

Cat Fountains – Investing in a pet water fountain can further encourage hydration. Cats often prefer fresh flowing water, as it appeals to their natural instincts. Cat fountains continually cycle and filter the water. This keeps it cooler and fresher-tasting for your cat. Place multiple fountains around your home so there’s always one in easy reach.

Lifestyle Changes

Making some simple changes to your cat’s lifestyle and environment can help prevent and manage UTIs by reducing bacteria growth and ensuring easy access to litter and water.

One of the most important things is to scoop your cat’s litter box more frequently – ideally once or twice per day. The longer urine and feces sit in the box, the more bacteria can accumulate. Frequently removing waste helps keep the litter box hygienic.

You should also completely change out the litter every 1-2 weeks. Dump all used litter and wash the box with soap and water before refilling with fresh litter. This helps remove any lingering bacteria.

In addition to litter box hygiene, always ensure your cat has easy access to clean, fresh water. Place multiple water bowls around your home. Consider getting a cat fountain, which circulates and filters the water. This encourages drinking and reduces stagnant bacteria.

Making these simple lifestyle adjustments can go a long way in preventing recurrent UTIs in cats. Be diligent about frequent scooping, regular litter changes, and easy water access.

Preventing UTIs

There are several ways to help prevent UTIs in cats:


Making sure your cat stays hydrated is key to preventing UTIs. Encourage them to drink more water by providing fresh, clean water daily. Consider getting a cat water fountain, which provides flowing water that many cats prefer over a stagnant bowl. You can also add a bit of low-sodium broth or tuna juice to the water to entice drinking. Wet food also provides extra hydration. According to one study, feeding only wet food may reduce the risk of recurrent UTIs in cats by 50% (source).


Feeding a high-quality diet designed for urinary health may help prevent UTIs. Look for cat foods with increased moisture, reduced magnesium, restricted minerals that can create crystals, and ingredients like cranberries that may have protective effects on the urinary tract (source). Avoid fish flavored diets, as the high phosphorus content can promote crystal formation.


Certain supplements may help support urinary tract health and reduce UTI recurrence when added to your cat’s diet. Glucosamine, probiotics, cranberry extract, and D-mannose have shown potential benefits. Talk to your vet before starting any new supplements.

When to See the Vet Again

If your cat’s symptoms of increased thirst and frequent urination persist or worsen despite initial treatment, it’s important to follow up with your veterinarian. Some key reasons to promptly revisit the vet include:

  • Your cat is continuing to drink abnormally large amounts of water and urinate frequently with no improvement.
  • You notice blood or crystals in your cat’s urine, which can indicate a more serious infection or bladder stones.
  • Your cat is straining painfully to urinate with little production.
  • Your cat is licking their genital area excessively.
  • Your cat stops urinating altogether, which is a medical emergency.
  • Your cat seems lethargic, confused, or inappetant, signaling systemic illness.
  • Your cat’s symptoms return within days or weeks after finishing medication.

Persistent or recurrent UTI symptoms in cats warrant further diagnostics and treatment from your veterinarian. Left untreated, UTIs can spread to the kidneys and become life-threatening. Your vet may need to perform additional tests and prescribe a different antibiotic or longer course of medication. They can also rule out complications like bladder or kidney stones. Treating the underlying cause fully is key to preventing repeat UTIs in the future. Call your vet promptly if your cat’s symptoms don’t resolve or you have other concerns after initial UTI treatment.


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