Do Cats Really Like Water Fountains?

The Growing Popularity of Cat Water Fountains

Cat owners are increasingly investing in water fountains for their feline companions. But do cats actually like these fountains? And what benefits do they provide for your cat’s health and happiness?

This article will examine why running water is attracting more and more cats, the advantages fountains offer over a stationary bowl, considerations for choosing the right fountain, reviews of the most popular fountains, tips for transitioning your cat, and recommendations for keeping fountains clean. Read on to learn everything you need to know about whether water fountains are a worthwhile investment for your furry friend.

Why Cats Need Water

Cats are surprisingly prone to chronic dehydration (Cornell Feline Health Center). This is because their natural instinct is to get most of their moisture needs from their food rather than drinking water directly. In the wild, cats get a large portion of their hydration from the moisture contained in their prey. But modern commercial cat foods are quite dry, so cats fed only kibble may not take in enough fluids daily.

Dehydration can be dangerous for cats and lead to serious health issues. According to WebMD, dehydration makes cats susceptible to bladder and kidney problems. The decreased fluid intake leads to concentrated urine which can create crystals and stones. Dehydration also thickens the blood, forcing the heart to pump harder. This can worsen heart disease over time. Severe dehydration can lead to kidney failure, constipation, electrolyte abnormalities and even death.

Some signs of dehydration in cats include lethargy, sunken eyes, poor appetite, dry gums and nose, and panting (PetMD). Because of their increased susceptibility, it’s important to encourage cats to drink more water daily to avoid dehydration.

Cats’ Natural Drinking Habits

In the wild, cats tend to prefer drinking from moving water sources like streams and ponds, as these sources are typically less contaminated than stagnant water. This instinct has carried over to domestic house cats, who often show a strong preference for drinking running water over still water.

One study found that cats drank significantly more water when provided with a water fountain compared to a regular bowl, consuming on average 28mL/kg per day from the fountain versus only 15mL/kg per day from the bowl (The water requirements and drinking habits of cats – Vet Focus).

Cats also dislike having their water source located too close to their food bowls. This likely stems from their natural aversion to eating and drinking from sources that are contaminated. Having separate water stations from food can encourage cats to drink more.

Overall, providing cats with a continuously circulating water fountain that is placed away from their feeding area is the best way to satisfy their natural drinking preferences and ensure adequate hydration.

Benefits of Water Fountains for Cats

Using a water fountain has several advantages for cats over a traditional water bowl. The main benefits include:

Encourage drinking more water – The sound and movement of flowing water appeals to cats’ natural instincts and entices them to drink more. Cats tend to drink 25-50% more water when using a fountain compared to a still bowl, helping them stay hydrated.

Provide fresher, cleaner water – Fountains continuously circulate and filter the water, keeping it cooler and limiting bacterial growth. The constant replenishment means the water tastes fresher and cleaner compared to a stagnant bowl.

Appeal to natural instincts – Flowing water is more enticing to cats since running streams were their ancestral water sources. The sound of the fountain can grab their curiosity and interest. Cats also prefer drinking from streams rather than standing pools.

Considerations When Choosing a Fountain

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

Size – Make sure to pick a fountain that is appropriately sized for your cat. Larger breeds may need a bigger basin, while smaller cats can do fine with a more compact model. Consider how high the water streams reach as well – some nervous cats prefer lower streams.

Noise Level – Look for fountains with quiet submersible or low-noise pumps, as cats are easily startled by loud noises [1]. The fountain should gently bubble rather than make a racket.

Ease of Cleaning – Pick an easy to disassemble fountain that has dishwasher safe parts. This makes regular cleaning and maintenance much simpler.

Dog-Proof Design – If you have dogs, look for heavy fountains that are harder to tip over. Some fountains also have protective covers over the pumps that prevent curious dogs from investigating inside.

Top Recommended Cat Water Fountains

There are many cat water fountains on the market to choose from. Based on expert reviews and customer feedback, here are the top 3 recommended cat water fountains:

1. PetKit Eversweet 2 Cat Water Fountain

The PetKit Eversweet 2 features dual free-falling streams to attract cats’ attention and encourage drinking. It has a large 100oz capacity, quiet operation, and an LED light indicator for low water levels. The replaceable charcoal filter helps remove bad tastes and odors. Customers praise its durable construction and easy maintenance.

2. Drinkwell Pagoda Ceramic Fountain

This ceramic fountain from Drinkwell has an upper and lower basin for multiple streams. The ceramic material is stain-resistant and easy to clean. It includes a dual-action charcoal filter to keep water fresh. Reviewers say it’s quiet, sturdy, and cats love the flowing stream.

3. Pioneer Pet Raindrop Fountain

The Pioneer Pet Raindrop Fountain features a unique raindrop design that creates an enticing water flow for cats. It has a UV purifier to inhibit bacterial growth, keeping water clean. The plastic construction is shatterproof and dishwasher safe. Customers love its large capacity and how well it attracts their cats to drink.

Transitioning Your Cat to a Fountain

Switching your cat to a new water source like a fountain can be challenging at first. Cats tend to be wary of change and may resist drinking from the fountain right away. With some patience and the right techniques, you can get your cat drinking happily from their new water fountain.

Here are some tips for introducing your cat to a fountain:

  • Place the fountain near your cat’s food bowls initially so it’s in a familiar location. Gradually move it farther away over 2-3 weeks.
  • Keep the fountain off at first so your cat can inspect it without the sound of running water. Let them sniff, rub, and get used to it as an object.
  • Turn the fountain on and allow your cat to watch the water flow for several days, rewarding with treats for any interest.
  • Consider adding a few drops of tuna water or bone broth to the fountain to entice your cat with scent and flavor.
  • Be patient – the transition can take 1-2 weeks. Keep their original water bowl available too until they are drinking consistently from the fountain.

With time and positive reinforcement, your cat will discover the fountain’s fresh flowing water. Getting them used to a new water source takes persistence, but it will pay off in better hydration.


Maintaining and Cleaning Cat Fountains

Keeping your cat’s water fountain clean is extremely important for your cat’s health. Cat fountains can easily harbor bacteria and other contaminants if not cleaned properly. Here are some recommended cleaning guidelines for cat fountains:

Daily Cleaning

It’s recommended to refresh your cat’s water daily. Dump out old water, rinse the fountain bowl with warm water, and refill with fresh filtered water. Wipe down exterior surfaces with a soft cloth.

Weekly Cleaning

Once a week, disassemble the fountain according to manufacturer instructions. Soak all removable parts (except electrical components) in hot water mixed with a 50/50 solution of distilled white vinegar and water for 15-20 minutes. This will help dissolve mineral deposits and kill bacteria. Scrub parts with a soft bristle brush. Rinse thoroughly. Catster recommends avoiding soap when cleaning fountains to prevent residue.

Monthly Cleaning

Deep clean the fountain monthly by disassembling all parts. Soak in hot water and vinegar solution as described above. Use a pipe cleaner or cotton swab to clean the small crevices. Replace filters and thoroughly rinse all parts. Allow to air dry fully before reassembling.

Replacing Filters

Most cat fountains come with a filter that needs replacing every 2-4 weeks. Check manufacturer guidelines. Replace sooner if filter looks dirty. Hand wash reusable filters once a month. Replace carbon filters regularly as directed.

Solving Common Cat Fountain Problems

One of the most common cat fountain issues is when a cat rejects or refuses to drink from the fountain. There are a few potential reasons for this:

  • The sound of running water scares them – Try selecting a quieter, lesssplashy model like the Drinkwell 360 Stainless Steel Pet Fountain (source).
  • They don’t like the feeling of the stream on their whiskers – Adjust the flow settings to make the stream lighter.
  • They prefer stagnant water – Try luring them with treats and catnip placed near the fountain.

Another common problem is issues with the motor or pump. Some troubleshooting tips include:

  • Check that all tube connections are properly secured (source).
  • Make sure the pump is fully submerged in water.
  • Check for clogs or gunk buildup, and thoroughly clean the fountain.
  • Replace the filter cartridge if covered in debris.
  • Consider replacing the pump if noise or flow have declined.


In conclusion, cat water fountains come with many potential benefits for feline health and well-being. With their instinct to seek out fresh flowing water, cats often drink more from a fountain than a static bowl. Dehydration can lead to health issues, so ensuring your cat gets enough water is crucial. Fountains also filter out impurities and keep the water fresher. There are a variety of fountains available, catering to different needs and budgets. With some patience helping them transition, monitoring for maintenance and taking precautions, cat fountains can be an excellent addition to any cat owner’s home. After learning more about how cats’ natural behaviors align with fountains, as well as the health perks for your pet, it’s clear that most cats do indeed appreciate these flowing water sources. While an investment, cat fountains can promote hydration and happiness for years to come.

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