Do Cat Water Fountains Drain Your Wallet? The Electricity Costs Revealed

Staying Hydrated is Essential for Cats

Ensuring cats drink enough water each day is crucial for their health. Cats are notoriously bad drinkers, with many not consuming an adequate amount of water on their own. Dehydration in cats can lead to serious health issues like urinary tract infections, kidney disease, and constipation. Providing fresh, circulating water encourages increased consumption and can prevent these problems.

One of the best ways to keep cats hydrated is by using a cat water fountain or circulator. The moving water entices felines to drink. But with the pump constantly circulating water, some cat owners wonder: Do cat water fountains use a lot of electricity?

Benefits of Cat Fountains

Cat fountains provide several benefits that make them an attractive option for pet owners. One of the main benefits is that they encourage cats to drink more water. Cats tend to prefer drinking running water compared to still water in a bowl ( The flowing motion helps stimulate their natural drinking instinct, and the sound provides an enticing cue to drink. Properly hydrating cats can help prevent urinary tract diseases.

Another major benefit of cat fountains is their filtration capabilities. Most cat water fountains use a filtration system to remove bad tastes, odors, and particulate matter from the water. The filtered, fresher tasting water encourages drinking and provides healthier water for cats.

Finally, cat fountains mimic natural flowing water sources that cats are evolutionarily drawn to for hydration. The cascading or bubbling action satisfies cats’ attraction to moving water. Providing a fountain type water source can make water more appealing than stagnant bowl water to felines.

Types of Cat Fountains

There are three main types of cat water fountains:

Gravity Style

Gravity style fountains rely on gravity to circulate water from a reservoir down into a collecting basin or bowl. The water flows down gently over steps or ramps. These fountains don’t require a pump and are very quiet. They are lower maintenance since there is no motorized part. Gravity fountains come in ceramic, plastic, or stainless steel.

Submersible Pump Style

Fountains with a submersible pump use a small motorized pump under the water to circulate water up through a tube into a collection basin or filtering area. The pump and internal tubing allow the water to flow continuously. Submersible pumps offer adjustable flow rates and multiple streams. They require electricity to run the pump.

Circulating Style

Circulating fountains use a motorized pump to circulate water out of the basin up to a top dome area where it flows down over the sides back into the basin. This creates a continuous flowing stream of water for cats. These fountains offer adjustable flow rates and multi-stream options. The pump requires electricity to operate.

Key Components that Use Electricity

There are three main components of a cat fountain that use electricity:


The pump is the primary driver of electricity usage in a cat fountain. It circulates and filters the water. Pump wattage can range from 3-15 watts depending on the size and flow rate of the fountain [1]. More powerful pumps with higher flow will use more electricity.

Night Light

Many cat fountains have built-in LED night lights to attract cats to drink. These LEDs use very little power, typically under 1 watt [2].


Some cat fountains contain integrated filters which need electricity to power UV sterilization or other filtration methods. These can use around 5 watts of power when in operation [3].

Electricity Usage by Type

Cat water fountains generally fall into three main types when it comes to electricity usage: gravity fountains, submersible fountains, and circulating fountains.

Gravity fountains rely on gravity to move water, rather than an electric pump. Water flows from a reservoir down into the drinking area. These fountains don’t require any electricity to operate. Examples of gravity fountains include the Catit Flower Fountain and EveryYay Avalon Pet Fountain.

Submersible fountains contain a small submersible pump under the water surface. The pump circulates and aerates the water. These fountains use around 1.5-4 watts per hour. Popular submersible fountains include the Drinkwell 360 Fountain and PetSafe Drinkwell Pagoda Fountain.

Circulating fountains have a more powerful external pump that moves water from a reservoir up into streams or waterfall features. These fountains use the most electricity at 4-8 watts per hour. Examples are the PetSafe Health & Wellness Fountain and Petlibro Grande Flow Fountain.

Estimating Electricity Cost

The electricity cost to operate a cat fountain depends on several factors like the pump wattage and how many hours per day it runs. Most cat fountain pumps use between 1.5 to 20 watts of power. Running a 5 watt pump 24 hours a day would use around 120 watt-hours (5 watts x 24 hours). At an average electricity rate of $0.12 per kWh, this equates to about $0.01 per day or $3.65 per year to run the pump continuously.

However, most cat owners don’t run the fountain all day. If used 12 hours per day, the electricity cost would be half as much or around $1.80 per year. The pump wattage also makes a difference. A 1.5 watt pump running 12 hours would only cost about $0.55 per year to operate.

In summary, a typical cat fountain running part of the day will likely add just a few dollars per year to electricity bills. Using a lower wattage pump and optimizing the operating hours can further reduce the operating costs.


Energy Efficient Options

There are several ways to make cat fountains more energy efficient:

Solar power: Some cat fountains like the Ancaixin Solar Cat Fountain (source) are powered by solar energy from a built-in solar panel. This avoids drawing any power from an electrical outlet. Solar fountains store power during the day and run off the stored energy at night.

Energy efficient pumps: Look for fountains with low-wattage pumps, ideally under 15 watts. Pumps around 3-5 watts are the most energy efficient. Gravity-flow fountains like the AniPet Leisure Flow Pet Drinking Fountain (source) don’t use a pump at all.

Timers: Some fountains have a timer to automatically shut off the pump during certain hours when your cat is less likely to drink. This avoids wasted electricity from continuous operation.

Maintenance to Optimize Efficiency

Regular maintenance of your cat fountain is essential to optimize its energy efficiency. One key task is cleaning and changing the filter as recommended by the manufacturer, typically every 2-4 weeks (source). A clean filter prevents debris buildup that can impede water flow, causing the pump to work harder and use more electricity. You should also fully disassemble and deep clean the fountain weekly per most experts’ advice (source). Thorough cleaning removes biofilm buildup inside tubes that can block water flow over time.

It’s also important to periodically check for leaks, which waste water and electricity. Dripping water means the pump is constantly running to replenish water lost through leaks. Situate the fountain on a mat to check for leakage underneath. Listen for dripping noises, examine joints for moisture, and watch water levels to detect any leaks (source). Address leaks immediately by tightening connections or replacing worn parts.

Additional Tips to Conserve Energy

There are a few simple ways to reduce the electricity usage of cat fountains without compromising your cat’s health and hydration.

Use a Smaller Bowl

Opt for a fountain with a smaller bowl size. The pump doesn’t have to work as hard to circulate water in a compact bowl versus a larger one. Many fountains come with interchangeable bowls to accommodate pets of different sizes. Using the smallest suitable bowl can help lower electricity consumption.

Choose Intermittent Flow

Some fountains offer intermittent, rather than continuous water flow. This means the pump operates on intervals rather than constantly running. Intermittent flow uses less energy while still providing fresh circulation. Just make sure the intervals are frequent enough for your cat’s preferences.

You can also purchase a fountain with a timer to control when the pump activates. Set it to run only during peak times when your cat drinks.

With some smart planning, you can keep your cat hydrated with a fountain without significantly adding to your electricity bill.


So to recap, cat water fountains can use a small amount of electricity to power the pump that circulates and filters the water. Gravity-powered fountains and those with low wattage use very little electricity – usually just pennies per month. More high-tech models with heaters, lights, and other features will use more. But there are many ways to manage electricity costs like using an energy efficient model, properly maintaining the fountain, unplugging when not in use, and utilizing a timer.

With some forethought, cat owners can minimize the electric costs of a fountain while still providing fresh flowing water that encourages hydration for healthier and happier cats. Focus on quality over unneeded gadgets, follow care guidelines, and monitor usage to keep electric costs low. Your cat will enjoy the benefits of a fountain without breaking the bank.

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