How To Choose The Best Pet Fountain For Your Cat

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If you're struggling to get your cat to drink more water but have realized they enjoy drinking from the sink, consider getting them a water fountain. Pet fountains offer a steady stream of water all day long, enticing your cat to drink more water and stay hydrated throughout the day. 

Cat fountains allow you to fill up a tank, which can last a few days, allowing your cat to drink water whenever they want. Some cats may prefer running water over still water in a bowl. Of course, not all fountains are the same, and you may have to train your cat to use one.

If you're looking for ways to keep your cat hydrated, you might wonder how to choose the best water fountain. This article will discuss everything you need to know about fountains to help you make the right choice for your feline and home. 

What Is A Pet Fountain?

A pet fountain is a sophisticated water dish that flows water through a spout or down a structure to provide the cat access to fresh, free-flowing water that encourages them to drink more. Fountains consist of a pump and reservoir, and the water is constantly cycled back through the pump to create a continuous flow. There are a few different types of fountains, including non-electric and non-filtered options.

Benefits Of Using A Pet Fountain For Cats

The most significant benefit of pet fountains is that they keep your cat hydrated, which is essential for various bodily functions. Proper hydration reduces feline constipation, improves temperature regulation and digestion, provides lubrication for the joints, and effectively helps deliver nutrients to vital organs.1 Dehydration in cats is dangerous and can lead to organ dysfunction, an inability to control body temperature, and arrhythmias.1 And even though your cat's wet food contains more water than kibble, your feline can still become dehydrated. 

But do cats like water fountains? Many cats prefer fountains because the free flow of water is more enticing, encouraging them to drink more water throughout the day. 

Benefits of using a pet fountain for cats

Other benefits of using a pet water fountain for cats include the following:

  • Convenience: A small water dish may hold up to one cup of water, which means refilling it every time it's empty to ensure your cat is hydrated. Most cats only need a cup of water, so while you can pour them a fresh bowl of water daily, it's more convenient to get a fountain you only have to fill up a few times a week. 
  • Constant flow of fresh water: Most fountains use a filter that removes fur and dirt from water. Higher-quality fountains contain charcoal or other types of filters that remove dangerous bacteria from drinking water. That said, you should still follow the manufacturer's guidelines and know how often to replace the filter and clean your fountain to ensure your cat always has access to clean water.
  • Keeps water cool: If you have a picky cat who won't drink room-temperature water, they may prefer a fountain because it can keep the temperature cooler. As water continuously circulates through the system, it stays slightly cooler than the air in your home, which may make some cats want to drink more water. 

Of course, even after getting a fountain for your cat, you should monitor how much they drink. Tracking their water consumption can alert you to potential health problems. For example, if your cat is drinking a lot of water and urinating more frequently, it could indicate bladder or urinary tract issues or more severe diseases like feline diabetes

Factors To Consider When Buying A Feline Water Fountain

Cat drinking fountains are available online and at pet stores, but with so many options, it can take time to find the right one for your pet. 

Factors to consider when buying a pet fountain for your cat

When shopping for cat water fountains, there are a few things to keep in mind, including the following: 

Price

Cat fountains vary in price depending on the brand, quality of materials, type, and filter. Additionally, some fountains aren't a one-time expense. For example, if you purchase a fountain that uses charcoal filters, you'll likely have to replace the filters every month or so based on the manufacturer's directions. This added expense can increase the total cost of your fountain, but it might be well worth it to help ensure your cat has access to clean and healthy drinking water. 

Material

The most affordable pet fountains are usually made out of thick plastic. However, ceramic or stainless steel fountains are more durable. Ceramic or stainless steel fountains may cost more, but they're more hygienic, durable, and easier to clean. 

Type

Several types of fountains are available. Some examples include:

  • Automatic fountains: Automatic fountains are advanced and automatically detect when water levels are low. They also have multiple settings to help you find the right waterfall to entice your cat to drink more water.
  • Gravity water dispensers: Gravity water dispenser fountains use gravity to fill the bowl. With this option, you'll fill a jug with water and attach it to the back of the fountain to maintain a consistent water level as your cat drinks from it. There are two types of gravity water dispensers: electric and non-electric. With the electric version, your cat will have a free flow of water going down into the reservoir. However, with non-electric, they'll have a bowl of water refilled every time they drink from it.
  • Non-filtered: All fountains will run properly without filters, but some don't use them. Non-filtered fountains are hooked up to a water source like a bathtub or sink and allow your cat access to fresh water directly from the source without needing to buy filters. 

Size

Cat fountains are available for any home, whether you have tons of space or just a corner for your cat's food and water. Of course, you should always get the right size for your cat, including a height that allows them to reach the bowl without stretching to the floor in an uncomfortable position. Most fountains are designed for cats of all sizes, but if you have kittens, you should look for one that allows them to drink water easily without stretching.

Additionally, consider a fountain that offers a more shallow and wide reservoir to prevent whisker fatigue, which can occur when cat whiskers constantly rub against hard objects. 

Water capacity

Fountains offer pet parents more convenience because they won't have to monitor their cat's drinking bowls throughout the day and refill them. You should get one large enough to let your cat drink for at least a full day without needing to refill it. However, you may have to obtain a larger fountain if other pets in your household will drink from it. 

Cute gray cat drinking water from a large capacity pet fountain

Maintenance

Although pet drinking fountains usually have filters to keep the water clean, you will have to clean them eventually. In most cases, you should clean your cat's fountain monthly or more often, depending on how many pets share it. If you don't clean the filters regularly, the fountain may not work correctly, and bacteria and other particles can enter your cat's drinking water.2 Read the instructions on the fountain packaging for more information since some fountains use two or more types of filters.

Be aware that some pet drinking fountains are more challenging to clean than others. You'll need to wash all parts using warm water and dish detergent to clean your pet fountain. You may also need to purchase filter replacements regularly. Additionally, fountains usually have pumps with small pieces you'll need to remove and clean to get rid of any bacteria.

Noise level

Some fountains are louder than others. However, the type of sound they make will depend on their overall design, construction, and pump. The pump will become louder when the fountain is low on water but should be fairly quiet as long as it's full enough. Looking for a quiet model is essential because noise can be off-putting to cats, so look for reviews that discuss noise levels to help you determine whether a particular fountain is right for your pet. 

Additional Features

If you're willing to spend a little more on your cat's fountain, you can find options with additional features that provide more convenience for you and your cat. A few features to consider include the following:

  • Water settings: Some fountains have drinking modes that allow you to control the flow settings. 
  • LED lights: LED lights can make it easier to see when it's time to refill your pet's fountain and can help cats easily find their way to the fountain at night. 
  • Dishwasher safe: Pumps must be hand-washed, but the rest of the fountain may be machine-washable, depending on the manufacturer's guidelines. 
  • UV filtration: UV filtration is one of the most effective ways to purify water. While carbon filters remove chemicals, they aren't as effective at removing contaminants like bacteria and viruses.
  • Apps: There are pet fountains that may be controlled with an app, which may notify you when water levels are low, allow you to turn the system on or off, or activate a UV light.

Teaching Your Cat To Use A Water Fountain

How to teach your cat to use a water fountain

Pet fountains may be new to your cat, so some training may be required. One of the best ways to teach them how to use their new fountain is to set it up and turn it on, allowing them to investigate and interact with it. If your cat is unfamiliar with the device, keeping a fresh bowl of water nearby can ensure they can stay hydrated while they learn about their new fountain. 

You can speed up the time it takes for your cat to learn how to use their fountain by using positive reinforcement training in the form of treats and praise. Every time your cat interacts with the fountain, whether it's sniffing it or drinking from it, give them a treat to help them build positive associations with the device. Then, once your cat consistently uses the fountain, you can remove the other water bowl and monitor how much they drink to ensure they're staying hydrated. 

Cat Drinking Fountains: FAQs

Do cats like using water fountains instead of bowls?

Every cat is different, but some may prefer water fountains to bowls because they enjoy the fresh flow of water a few degrees cooler than the room temperature. Many pets, including dogs, prefer flowing water over standing water, especially when it's a cooler temperature; plus, running water can attract a cat's attention and make them want to drink more throughout the day. 

What's the best pet water fountain for my cat?

The best water fountain for your cat depends on your budget and the special features you're looking for. For example, while plastic fountains are typically the cheapest, there are better options. Meanwhile, the more you're willing to spend, the more features you can get, with multiple filtration methods to ensure your cat's water is always clean. 

Do pet fountains need filters?

Pet fountains will work without filters, but you should always use them because they can remove bacteria and viruses that can enter your cat's water. Ultimately, filters remove impurities that can harm pets, so even though it may mean replacing them every so often, they're well worth it to ensure your cat's health and safety. 

Final Notes

Hydration is crucial for optimal cat health. But unfortunately, many cats don't get enough water every day. If this sounds like your pet, they may benefit from a fountain that encourages them to drink more and has filters that purify water to make it safer and cleaner. 

Of course, a sudden increase or decrease in the amount of water your cat consumes could indicate a serious health problem. Consult a Dutch vet if your cat's drinking habits have changed or they're experiencing other symptoms, such as frequent urination, lack of appetite, or lethargy. We can help treat various illnesses to help your cat live a happier, healthier, and more hydrated life. Try Dutch today. 

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References

  1. "Hydration." Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, 8 July 2021, https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/hydration.

  2. Deborah E. Linder, DVM. "Tips and Tricks to Get Your Cat to Drink More Water." Clinical Nutrition Service at Cummings School, 8 Dec. 2020, https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2020/12/tips-and-tricks-to-get-your-cat-to-drink-more-water/.

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