Water Diabetes in Cats

Alex German
Dec 3, 2009
Image: Photo Grapher / via Image Bank

Diabetes Insipidus in Cats


Diabetes insipidus (DI) is a rare disorder in cats that affects the body's ability to conserve water, thereby releasing too much of it. This condition is characterized by increased urination, dilute urine (so-called insipid, or dull urine), and increased thirst and drinking.


Symptoms and Types


There are two main types of DI that affect cats: neurogenic (or central diabetes insipidus) and nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. In neurogenic DI, the cause is due to a lack of the hormone vasopressin, which regulates the body's retention of water. The release of vasopressin is produced and regulated by the hypothalamus (in the brain), so a dysfunction in its release may be due to a head injury, or to a tumor in the brain. Vasopressin is produced in the hypothalamus into the connected pituitary gland, and is then released into the bloodstream. A lack of vasopressin may be due to a failure in the hypothalamus, or a failure in the pituitary gland. A significant number of neurogenic DI cases area idiopathic.


Nephrogenic DI, meanwhile, can be caused by a deficiency of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which functions to stimulate the capillary muscles and reduce the flow of urine, effectively conserving water for the body's various functions. The cause is found in the kidneys and their inability to respond appropriately to ADH, allowing too much water from the body to escape into the urine.

This is typically an acquired condition, and may be due to amyloidosis of the kidney, cysts on the kidney, or an imbalance of electrolytes.

Other common symptoms seen in cats with DI include:

  • Increased urination (polyuria)
  • Increased drinking (polydispsia)
  • Decreased urination – with dehydration
  • Housesoiling - occasional       
  • Poor hair coat 
  • Sudden weight loss


Inadequate secretion of antidiuretic hormone ADH

  • Congenital defect
  • Unknown causes
  • Trauma
  • Cancer

Renal insensitivity to ADH

  • Congenital
  • Secondary to drugs
  • Secondary to endocrine and metabolic disorders
  • Secondary to renal disease or infection


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