Most pet water fountains are made for both cats and dogs. There are however a few that are designed more specifically with cats in mind because as any cat owner knows, our feline friends have a special relationship with water.
Both types of will covered in this guide, as well as helpful information about what to look for in your ideal drinking fountain, how to best maintain it so it provides the cleanest water for your cat, plus a low-down on some of the top water fountains.
What Are The Benefits of a Cat Water Fountain?
So what are the advantages of using this kind of drinking system for your cats? And are there any downsides you should know about?
The benefits of encouraging a cat to drink more water is obvious, especailly for those cats who eat a lot of dry food. But what I want to focus on here is the advantages of having a water fountain compared to just a traditional water bowl (most people will still choose to use a bowl of water as well, especially if your goal is to have the fountain be an additional source of enrichment).
- Hygiene – water in a fountain is not stagnant like in a bowl
- Many cats are fascinated by and love to interact with running water
- Less likely or impossible to tip over and empty like some regular bowls
- Less evaporation of water on a hot day
- Some fountains have effective filters to remove water particles
This is a bit of a two way street really. Clean water is always the most hygienic water (quite obviously). In theory, flowing water is more hygienic than stagnant water (that’s why if you’re lost in the wilderness, you never drink stagnant water, but instead find fresh rain water flowing down a mountain or stream).
A good water fountain is constantly circulating water, so it never becomes stagnant. With that said: the cleanliness of the water comes down to the cleanliness of the water system . That means you need to keep it clean, just as a regular water bowl must be kept clean. A clean pet drinking water fountain has the potential to deliver very clean, fresh water to your cat without the “floaties” that you’ll get in a normal water bowl, even when it’s cleaned daily (as it should be).
In short? If you want the best hygiene and clean water from the drinking fountain you buy, follow the instructions and recommendations for cleaning it and stick to it.
While cats are generally not known for their love of water (and many will certainly do what they can to avoid getting a drop on them), most of us cat people have seen cats who just can’t help themselves in swatting the water coming out of a faucet or hose!
A drinking fountain can generate the same type of interest, and once they learn they can drink from it, it often becomes a new favorite part of their environment. So it’s not just about hydrating (while that’s definitely an important role!), but FUN as well. So if your cat is known to love a good water swat, simply lay some waterproof matting around the fountain to catch any drips and drops if you want to keep the floor dry.
A water fountain doesn’t have to be the only water you provide for your cat – many people choose to use it for enrichment as much as for a water supply, while still maintaining a regular heavy duty water bowl in other areas of the home, yard or outdoor cat run.
Indoor Cat Benefits
Life can get a bit boring inside for a cat. If you have no way to let your cat safely and securely into the outdoors, a water fountain adds that little bit of nature into the home. We know the sound of running water has a therapeutic effect on us humans, and who knows if it doesn’t have the same positive benefit for cats as well?
What to look for
There are more than a few pet and cat drinking fountains and automatic water systems out there – so how do you know which is going to be one that your cat will be comfortable using?
Knowing the basics of what to look for in terms of features, functionality and importantly, maintenance, will make your choice easier and make it more likely that your cat will take to their new drinking facility with enthusiasm!
Water flow: how fast does the water flow? Can you adjust the speed and type of flow? If so, how many different settings are there? Does the water flow down like a waterfall or bubble up?
Capacity: How much water does it hold?
What’s it made of: Stainless steel? Ceramic? Plastic? If plastic, is it BPA-free? Is it dishwasher safe for cleaning when pulled apart?
Cleaning: So important to stop growth of bacteria, mold and algae. How easy is it to clean? How often should you do a thorough clean?
Does it user any water filters? If so, how often do they need replacing? Ongoing costs?
Is it designed well not to cause spillage?
Is it quiet? How loud/noticeable is the water pump? This can deter cats from using it.
Does it rely purely on electricity? If not backup power source, fountain will stop working without power. How much power does it use?
Height: comfortable height? is the height adjustable?
Stability: A cat should not be able to knock it over.
How does it filtrate and keep the water fresh?
There are a few questions you might have thought of (or not yet thought of) about when it comes to your cat using one of these devices. And rightly so, because they are all potential considerations when looking at the build and features of each brand and model.
Some will be more suited to your home and your individual cat and their behavior than others.
Consider the following:
Cats who like chewing cords. This is not an unusual behavior. Some cats completely ignore power cables and cords, while others make it their number one aim to play with it and chew it, potentially exposing wires. While most drinking fountains need to be plugged in to an electrical outlet, they are low voltage and use just a small amount of power.
Despite that, you still don’t want your cat attempting to chew through the cord. One thing to look for is the cord length – some are quite short, while others might be 6 foot long or more (you can of course use an extension cable if you need to).
If your cat is a known cord-chewer though, seriously consider a low cost cord protector made especially to stop pets doing just that, like the PetCords Pawtech. This just gives you the peace of mind and removes that worry about the electrical cable.
How does it deal with hair getting into the water flow?
This is a common complaint I see: how to deal with any cat hair that makes its way into the water cycle.
This is one of the key areas that separates an average drinking fountain from the better ones.
You don’t want the system getting clogged up with cat fur, as in the worst case it can block the filter and/or cause the pump to stop working altogether (another important reason to stick to the recommended cleaning schedule).
Pioneer Pet Raindrop Stainless Steel Drinking Fountain
Unlike most water fountains which are made of plastic, the Raindrop makes use of stainless steel.
For a lot of people, this big benefit is enough on its own to make this one a preferable option. Stainless steel not only looks good, but is long lasting, easier to keep clean, and tougher than any plastic.
Catit Flower Water Fountain
Probably the best looking drinking fountain you’ll see. It’s very pretty!
But does your cat care? Perhaps not. But it’ll certainly fit well into your landscaping and is a lovely little unit to place on an enclosed deck or balcony alongside the pot plants.
You aren’t locked into a single water flow with this one, as there are three different settings so you can experiment until finding the one your cat takes the most interest in. Some cats will like a regular gentle flow, while others love the setting that makes the water bubble or stream out a little faster.
To choose between the three settings, you insert the flower which has an effect on the water flow, creating the streams. Or you can use the unit without the flower and just let it flow out gently. You can experiment with different flow settings with and without the flower, so it gives a lot of different options for every individual cat.
The Catit is circulating 3 liters (100 fl oz) of water when it’s full, which runs through a water softening filter and all powered by a small pump.
The height of the fountain makes it comfortable for the average adult cat to be able to drink from it while either standing or sitting.
Because the design of it is gently sloping, one side is slightly higher than the other with a gradual decline.
This is not only ideal for stability, but also allows for variations in your cat’s height where they can choose the most comfortable point of the fountain to take a drink from.
Keeping the system clean is essential both for hygienic reasons, and to maintain the fountain in optimum condition. The pump operates quietly as long as its well maintained, and this doesn’t take up much time.
The Catit works best, quietest and cleanest when the water is kept topped up. Consider how much your cat drinks, plus the effect of evaporation.
Most cats aren’t big drinkers, and many people do find that rather than topping it up much of the time, completely changing the water is just as easy but more beneficial (this should be done regularly anyway).
The filter targets two water components and aims to remove them: calcium and magnesium. The company states that doing this helps to reduce the chance of urinary tract problems.
The filter also works to stop cat hair and other debris being caught up in the cycle, so it can deliver the freshest and cleanest possible water. Replacement filters are available (only Catit filters are recommended). Each filter is made to operate at its most efficient level for about a month, although you should check it regularly to make sure there isn’t a hair build up.
Replacing it every 3-4 weeks maximum is recommended though, and more often if you have multiple cats using it. Importantly, new filters should be rinsed before being used. And rinsing the filter weekly is also ideal to reduce bacterial build up, hair, debris and to keep the fountain running at peak performance.
Along with the filter, the pump itself also needs to be regularly cleaned out. Hair will accumulate otherwise, it will become noisier, and is at risk of malfunction if not maintained. It will also negatively impact on the quality of water your cat is drinking, as the pump is what drives the entire water circulation process in the fountain.
Thankfully it’s very easy to clean out the pump in the Catit, and it’s something that can be done when you change the water and give the system a good clean. Simply rinse the pump and remove debris – and have peace of mind that your Catit will be operating at its best.
To prevent build up of grime and slime, giving the fountain a quick but thorough clean weekly is ideal.
The Catit needs to be plugged in to an electrical outlet with a relatively long cord of over 4 feet long.
As a fun novely, they’ve even made the packaging of the Catit fountain cat-friendly. What cat doesn’t love boxes? Directions are provided to cut the box to make it into a toy – that’s a bit of extra value for money and if we know cats, they’ll get more joy from the simple box than any expensive toy buy for them!
Tips For cleaning a cat water fountain
A well designed cat water fountain should be easy to clean. The more complicated or difficult it is to keep your fountain clean, the more likely slime, algae and bacteria will build up and cause a health hazard for your cat.
So choosing one that makes cleaning simple will save you many headaches in the long run.
Learning how to clean your cat water fountain properly, by reading the instructions, will make the process feel like second nature to you after you’ve done it a couple of times and when you do it regularly, it’s a very small job.