An Older Cat Is Drinking More Water, Eating Well But Losing Weight – Cat Diabetes?

I saw a question recently posted on message board where the owner mentioned that an older cat is drinking more water, eating well but losing weight – cat diabetes? Could this be cat diabetes? It could be but not necessarily as there a number of illnesses that could lead to these symptoms. Diabetes does cause cats to drink more water, urinate more frequently and lose weight despite eating well. But these symptoms could also be related to kidney disease, hyperactive thyroid or liver disease.

“* Diabetes mellitus: Diabetes causes cats to drink more (frequently a lot more!), urinate more and eat more, but they lose weight despite their great appetite.

* Kidney disease: The first symptom in cats is often excessive thirst. At first the cat’s appetite may be fine, but eventually the appetite diminishes and they begin to lose weight.

* Hyperactive thyroid: Many cats with an overactive thyroid lose weight even though they are usually eating more than ever. Some also drink more than before.

* Liver disease: Certain types of liver disease cause increased thirst and weight loss without changing a cat’s appetite.”

All the above illnesses can be treated, so the best advice is to visit your veterinarian to get the cat checked out as routine tests can determine which of the above illnesses are present. Your veterinarian will then be able to discuss the various treatment options that are available.

Cat diabetes tends to develop over a number of weeks and is sometime difficult to notice as early symptoms can vary from cat to cat. Here is an excellent explanation of things to look out for and why:-

” In a short term some cats may gain weight. They become enormously hungry and eat up to three times their normal daily portions. Other cats  lose their appetites from almost the moment the disease strikes.

Most cats will drink a huge amount of water and urinate it out in the same quantities. Some cats become almost obsessive about water, lurking around taps,  hosepipes and garden fountains. Another sign of diabetes that the back legs are weakened, causing the cat to become very wobbly when walking.

This is because once the available insulin in the body decreases, glucose in the bloodstream is not broken down into energy. To get that needed energy, the body instead burns up (metabolizes)  fat and protein from the muscles.

At this point, he skin shows signs of thinning and overall fragility. These metabolic changes cause another complication – a condition known as ketoacidosis. (Ketoacidosis is characterised by the accumulation of ketons; organic compounds containing carbon group linked to a carbon atom –  as in acetone, for example) Basically, when the body breaks down fat for energy, this makes the blood more acidic.

An older cat is drinking more water, eating well but losing weight - cat diabetes?

An Older Cat


When the body is burning only fat and muscle, this acidity is passed out of the body in urine, and the cat gets very dangerously dehydrated. There is a  quick test which you can do at home using urine keto/glucose strips. Simply immerse the strip in a urine sample from the cat.

If the keto/glucose strip shows glucose in the urine that indicates diabetes. If however, the strip is also positive for ketones, get your cat to the vet ASAP.

Ketoacidosis is a life threatening condition, because as the level of acidity in the blood increases, the body’s dehydration reaches the point where the cat can lapse into a coma.

Early signs of ketoacidosis to watch out for are: loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, dehydration, and breathing problems. Cats with ketoacidosis need emergency treatment with fluid therapy and short-acting insulin injections.”

You should always look out for changes of behaviour and routine. This is especially so for cats that are getting old. So in answer to the question of an older cat is drinking more water, eating well but losing weight – cat diabetes? The answer is that it could be and to get the cat checked out as quickly as possible. Like in humans, old age can bring on a multitude of illnesses and some times symptoms are not always clear cut in defining illnesses.

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