How to Keep Your Cat’s Water Fountain Sparkling Clean


Keeping a cat’s water fountain clean is critical for ensuring your feline companion has access to fresh, clean drinking water. Left unchecked, bacteria, mold, and algae can accumulate in fountain systems and contaminate the water source. Drinking contaminated water puts cats at risk for gastrointestinal issues and infections. Regular cleaning and disinfecting removes potentially harmful buildup and bacteria from all components of the fountain, allowing it to deliver the safest water possible.

Cat fountains are designed to constantly circulate and aerate water, but the motorized pump and flowing water can also promote bacterial growth if not properly maintained. That’s why it’s recommended to take apart, scrub, sanitize, and refresh cat fountains at least once a week. Doing so reduces biofilm accumulation and keeps the water tasting and smelling fresh, so your cat will be enticed to drink more often. By understanding the cleaning steps and sticking to a weekly schedule, you can keep your cat healthy and hydrated with a reliably clean water fountain.

Supplies Needed

The main supplies you’ll need to thoroughly clean and disinfect a cat water fountain are:

  • Distilled white vinegar – Has disinfectant properties and helps remove mineral deposits (Source)
  • Dish soap – Helps break down oils and residue
  • Hydrogen peroxide – Disinfects the fountain
  • Clean cloths – For wiping down pieces
  • Toothbrush – For scrubbing hard-to-reach areas

You may also need replacement filters and cleaning brushes designed for your specific fountain model. Having the necessary supplies on hand will allow you to thoroughly clean all parts of the fountain.

Disassemble the Fountain

The first step to properly disinfect your cat’s water fountain is to take it apart completely. This will allow you to fully clean all components. Start by unplugging the fountain and removing the cord from the pump/motor housing (Catit PIXI Fountain Replacement Pump 2021). Remove the pump/motor housing, the filter cartridge, the flower attachment if applicable, and any other removable pieces (Catit PIXI Smart Fountain Review 2022). Take apart compartments and lids. Lay out all the pieces so you can systematically clean each one.

Clean the Motor

The motor that circulates the water in the fountain should be cleaned regularly to prevent buildup that can impede function. Start by unplugging the fountain and removing the motor from the base of the unit.

Use a soft damp cloth to gently wipe down the motor housing and impeller to remove any debris or mineral deposits. Take care not to submerge the motor in water, as this can damage the electrical components. A mild detergent can be used on the cloth if needed for more thorough cleaning.

For stubborn hard water stains, soak a cloth in an equal parts solution of vinegar and warm water. Gently rub this vinegar solution onto the affected areas of the motor and let it sit for 15 minutes before wiping clean with a fresh damp cloth. This can help dissolve calcium and magnesium deposits.

Be sure the motor is completely dry before reassembling the fountain. Check that the impeller spins freely once reinstalled. Refer to manufacturer instructions for proper motor maintenance.

Wash Removable Pieces

The removable pieces of the cat fountain, like the bowl, lid, and pump parts, can be washed with mild soap and water. Use a soft sponge or cloth to gently scrub the surfaces. For tough stains, a toothbrush can help agitate and remove built-up gunk and mineral deposits.

Dish soap or other mild detergents are recommended, as harsh cleaners may leave behind residue. Make sure to rinse the soap off thoroughly after scrubbing. Check crevices and hard-to-reach spots to ensure all soap residue is removed before disinfecting or reassembling the fountain.

For reference, see this guide on cleaning cat water fountains: How to Clean a Cat Water Fountain in 7 Steps – Catster

Disinfect Parts

To thoroughly disinfect the fountain parts, soak them in a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water for 15-30 minutes. The acidic vinegar will help kill mold, bacteria, and mineral deposits. Make sure all parts are fully submerged. Alternately, you can soak the pieces in undiluted 3% hydrogen peroxide for 10-15 minutes to disinfect[1].

If there is tough buildup, let the parts soak longer. For stubborn mineral deposits on ceramic fountains, you can soak in undiluted white vinegar overnight. However, take care not to soak plastic pieces too long as it could degrade the material. Thoroughly rinse off all parts with clean water after disinfecting.

Rinse and Dry

After all of the parts have been cleaned and disinfected, they need to be thoroughly rinsed to remove any soap or cleaning residue. According to, “Resudue left on any parts can contaminate the water and be dangerous for your cat” (Source). Run each piece under fresh running water, scrubbing gently with a clean toothbrush or letting the parts soak if needed until the suds are gone.

Once rinsed, dry each piece thoroughly with a clean towel. Let the parts air dry completely before reassembling to prevent any moisture from getting trapped inside the fountain. Petlibro recommends at least 30 minutes of drying time before putting the fountain back together. A hairdryer on a cool setting can also be used to speed up drying if needed.


After thoroughly cleaning, rinsing, and drying all of the fountain components, you can start to reassemble the fountain. Be sure to consult the instruction manual that came with your specific fountain model, as the assembly process can vary.

Generally, you’ll want to replace the pump back into the base reservoir first. Make sure it is fitted snugly into place. Next, replace the filter, taking care that it lays flat and covers the pump intake. Some filters may need to be gently bent into a dome shape to fit properly.

Now you can add on other attachments like drinking spouts, towers, or bowls, connecting them securely. Check that any tubes or power cords are threaded through correctly. Snap pieces together and listen for any clicking or snapping sounds that indicate proper assembly.

Take a look over your work to ensure no parts are loose, cracked, or positioned incorrectly. Refer to a diagram in your instruction manual if needed. With everything aligned and tightened, your fountain should be rebuild and ready for refilling.

Refill and Restart

Once the cat fountain has been fully reassembled, it’s time to refill it with fresh water. Use cold water from the tap or bottled water. Avoid using hot water as this can damage the fountain’s pump and plastic housing. Fill the basin until it reaches the “max fill” line.

Before plugging the fountain back in, give the electrical cord a visual inspection to make sure there are no chews or frays. Then, plug the fountain into an outlet using a surge protector. Press the power button to turn the fountain back on. You should hear the motor start up and see the water begin circulating again through the fountain within a few seconds. If not, double check that the pump is fully submerged in water.

Let the fountain run for a few minutes and inspect closely to make sure there are no leaks around the pump, power cord or housing seams. Also check the flow rate and make adjustments if needed. Your freshly cleaned fountain is now ready for your cat to enjoy purified cool water once again!

Regular Maintenance

To keep your cat’s fountain clean and free of harmful bacteria, it’s recommended to disinfect and thoroughly clean the entire fountain at least once per week. Many experts advise cleaning a cat fountain every 3-4 days if you have multiple cats using the fountain, or every 5-6 days for a single cat household.

Be sure to check the fountain water daily and refresh it as needed, even if not doing a full disinfecting clean. Look for signs of film, debris, or algae buildup, which are cues that a cleaning is needed. Depending on usage and environmental factors, you may need to clean the fountain more or less frequently than the standard recommendation.

Replace the fountain filters according to package instructions, usually every 2-4 weeks. Filters help remove hair and particles from the water and keep it cleaner longer between full cleanings. Check filters when cleaning the fountain and replace sooner if they appear overly dirty or clogged.

Regularly disinfecting and changing filters is key to providing your cat with a consistent supply of fresh, clean drinking water. Proper maintenance prevents the growth of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that could make your cat sick if ingested during drinking or grooming.

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