Are Cat Fountains Safe? Reddit Users Weigh In


A cat fountain is a water dispensing device designed specifically for cats. It continuously circulates and filters water to provide cats with a clean, flowing water source. Cat fountains were created to encourage cats to drink more water, which can help promote urinary tract health.

The main benefits of cat fountains include:[1]

  • Encouraging water intake – The flowing, filtered water is more appealing to cats, resulting in increased water consumption.
  • Cleaner water – Fountains filter out hair, food, dirt, and other debris that can accumulate in standing water dishes.
  • Convenience – Fountains hold a water supply so they don’t need constant refilling like bowls.
  • Customization – Many fountains allow you to adjust water flow and include add-ons like ice packs to cool the water.

By improving water intake and quality, cat fountains can support urinary tract health, kidney function, and overall hydration.


Safety Concerns

One common concern with cat fountains is the risk of electrical hazards. While most quality cat fountains are designed to be safe, it’s important to closely follow all safety precautions and instructions. Choose a fountain with a cord cover, and avoid overloading outlets. Additionally, purchase your fountain from a reputable supplier and ensure it has proper electrical certifications. For extra safety, plug the fountain into a GFCI outlet.

Another consideration is the possibility of leaks. Select a fountain with durable, high-quality materials that won’t easily crack or break. Avoid brittle plastic models. Most quality fountains feature leakproof designs, but it’s still wise to place them on waterproof surfaces. Check your fountain daily for signs of leaks or cracks, and promptly repair or replace any damaged parts.

Proper cleaning is crucial for safety. Fountains can harbor bacteria if not cleaned regularly. Follow all manufacturer guidelines for cleaning frequency and methods. Use mild soap and water, and completely disassemble the fountain to access all areas. Sterilize components weekly with vinegar or other disinfectants. Replace filters as directed. With proper care, fountains pose minimal safety risks.

Electrical Safety

Using an electric cat fountain comes with some electrical safety considerations. To ensure your cat fountain operates safely, look for ETL or UL certification, indicating the product has passed independent testing for safety hazards. As recommended on, plug the fountain into a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet for protection against electric shocks.[1] Avoid using an extension cord, which can overheat. Instead, place the fountain near an outlet.

Additionally, reddit users advise allowing a “drip loop” in the cord and keeping the water source away from splashing directly on the outlet.[2] Following basic electrical safety guidelines can help prevent hazards when running an electric cat fountain.

Preventing Leaks

One of the main safety concerns with cat fountains is preventing leaks that can damage floors and surroundings. Choose a sturdy, high-quality fountain made of durable plastic or ceramic materials. Inspect regularly for any cracks or damage that could cause leaks. As suggested on Pioneer Pet’s FAQ page, “The leak likely results from an incorrectly positioned pump housing – the housing spout should align and fit into the white silicone piece” (

Place the fountain on an elevated, waterproof surface rather than directly on the floor. A plastic mat or tray underneath can protect your floors from splashes or potential leaks. Some pet owners on Reddit recommend always keeping a mat underneath: “You really should have something underneath it anyway to keep the floor from getting ruined, fountains get bumped or leak.” Proper assembly, inspection, sturdy construction, and waterproofing below the fountain can go a long way in preventing annoying or dangerous leaks.

Proper Cleaning

Keeping your cat fountain clean is crucial for providing your cat with fresh, bacteria-free water. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning the fountain. Typically, cat fountains should be cleaned every 2-3 days. More frequent cleanings may be needed for multi-cat households.

Change the filter cartridge regularly as recommended by the manufacturer, usually every 2-4 weeks. Replacing the filter helps keep the water clean and free of debris and hair.

Use a mild soap and water to clean the fountain parts. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners. A soft cloth or sponge works well to gently wipe down surfaces. For stuck-on gunk or hard to reach areas, use a small soft bristle brush. Rinse all parts thoroughly after cleaning.

Refer to the manufacturer’s guide for detailed instructions on taking apart, cleaning, and reassembling specific fountain models. Thorough cleaning is key for preventing bacteria growth and pump issues.

Here are some tips from cat care experts:

“It’s a good idea to use a non-abrasive cloth or sponge to wipe the fountain parts, and a small brush for the hard to reach corners. It may be helpful to soak stubborn areas in a 50/50 vinegar and water solution before scrubbing.” (Source)

“Unfortunately, cleaning a cat water fountain is not a self-cleaning job. It takes a little time and elbow grease to keep it fresh for your cat’s drinking pleasure. But don’t worry, if you follow our steps, you’ll get the hang of it.” (Source)

Water Quality

Using high quality, filtered water is crucial for cat fountains according to experts. The water source used can impact the cleanliness and safety of the fountain. As noted on the American Veterinary Medical Association website, “Providing clean water to your pet”, using filtered or distilled water is ideal since it will have fewer contaminants. Hard water with lots of minerals can lead to buildup in fountains over time. Similarly, tap water with high levels of chlorine or fluoride may be less palatable to cats or impact their health when consumed regularly.

It’s also important to change the water frequently, even when using filtered water. The AVMA recommends changing water at least every other day. Water can get stale or collect bacteria within a day or two. Many fountains have dishwasher safe parts to make regular cleaning easy. Consider using an antibacterial solution when cleaning the fountain to prevent bacterial growth.

Choosing a Fountain

When selecting a cat fountain, there are a few key factors to consider:

Some of the most important factors to consider include:

  • Size – Make sure to choose a fountain big enough for your cat’s needs. Fountains generally range from 1-7 liters.
  • Flow rate – Look for adjustable flow rates to accomodate your cat’s preferences. Flow rates typically range from 30-100 oz per minute.
  • Noise level – Cats prefer quieter fountains. Look for ones with noise levels under 40 decibels.

Materials are also an important consideration. The most common options include:

  • Plastic – Affordable but more prone to bacterial growth. Look for BPA-free plastic.
  • Stainless steel – More durable and easier to clean. Avoid leaching of metals.
  • Ceramic – Attractive and durable but prone to breaking if knocked over.

Finally, consider ease of cleaning. Look for fountains with dishwasher safe parts and no hard to reach areas. Some fountains feature filtration systems to help keep water clean.

Experts recommend the Cepheus 360 Ceramic Pet Fountain for its ceramic construction and adjustable flow.

Fountain Location

When choosing where to place your cat fountain, there are a few key factors to consider for safety and success:

Pick an easily accessible spot. Cats will be more likely to use the fountain if it is in an open, high-traffic area they frequently pass through. Avoid tucking it away in a corner or cluttered space.

Keep it away from food. To prevent cross-contamination, locate the fountain in a separate room from your cat’s food dishes. Cats prefer their water source to be far from their food.

Place near an outlet. Cat fountains require access to a power source to operate the pump and filtration system. Position it close enough to an outlet to plug it in securely.

Select a quiet zone. Since cat fountains gurgle and trickle, choose an area away from high-traffic human zones. Excess noise may deter shy or anxious cats from approaching.

Make sure the location is safe. Don’t place the fountain on an unstable surface or peripheral edge where it could be knocked over. The area should be free of electrical hazards or cords as well.

With strategic fountain placement in an easily accessible yet secluded spot, you can encourage your cat to drink more while keeping the water clean and safe.

Transitioning Your Cat

When introducing a cat fountain, go slowly so your cat can get used to this new water source. Here are some tips for a smooth transition:

Start by placing the fountain a few feet away from your cat’s food bowl. The distance between their food and water motivates cats to get more exercise. As per the Catit website, “The solution is simple: move your cat’s drinking fountain a few feet away from their food. Silence is golden. In our Catit PIXI fountains, the innovative design filters out loud motor noises to prevent startling your cat.”

Keep the fountain turned off at first so your cat can investigate it without worrying about the sound of running water. Let them sniff, rub, and explore the fountain until they seem comfortable with it as per Jeffers Pet blog.

Next, turn the fountain on to the lowest flow setting. Cats prefer calm, still water so start with a gentle stream. Place treats around the fountain to create positive associations.

Be patient! It may take up to 2 weeks for your cat to start drinking from the fountain. Make sure to keep their regular water bowl available too during the transition. Don’t force them to use it, and give your cat affection when they show interest.

Soon your cat will discover the cool, fresh taste of fountain water. Stay positive throughout the process and it will be a smooth change for both of you.


In summary, cat fountains can provide many benefits for cats when used properly. The main points covered were electrical safety, preventing leaks, proper cleaning and water quality, choosing an appropriate fountain, and properly transitioning your cat.

To safely use a cat fountain, inspect for damage, use a GFCI outlet, and keep electrical cords out of reach. Check for leaks daily and change filters as directed. Clean all parts regularly with soap and water. Use filtered water if possible. Select a fountain with durable materials, enough capacity for your cat, and a design that will appeal to your cat.

Finally, give your cat time to adjust to the new fountain. Place it in an easily accessible area and try catnip or treats to encourage drinking. Overall, cat fountains can improve hydration and health when safety precautions are followed.

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