Quench Your Cat’s Thirst. 3 Simple Tips to Train Kitty to Use a Water Fountain


Cat fountains provide fresh, circulating water that can encourage cats to drink more. Cats tend to prefer moving water sources, and a fountain mimics streams and other natural water sources. The flowing motion aerates the water and helps bring out fresh tastes and smells. Fountains also filter the water to keep it cleaner. Adequate hydration helps prevent urinary tract infections, kidney problems, and constipation in cats. Proper hydration can also improve their coat condition.

Training a cat to use a water fountain requires patience. Cats can be slow to accept changes to their environment. Introducing a fountain gradually, making it appealing, and allowing plenty of time for adjustment can increase the likelihood your cat will take to the new water source.

Get the Right Fountain

The first step is choosing an appropriate water fountain for your cat. There are a few key features to look for when selecting a cat fountain:

  • Filtration system – A good filtration system will remove hair, debris, and mineral deposits from the water. Look for fountains with multiple filtration layers or stages.
  • Adjustable water flow – Cats prefer different water flow rates, so look for a fountain that allows you to control the flow.
  • Easy to clean and maintain – Choose a fountain with dishwasher safe parts that are easy to disassemble.
  • Quiet operation – Cats dislike loud gurgling sounds, so find a quiet fountain.
  • Stable and tip-proof – Select a fountain with a wide, non-tip base.

When choosing a fountain, consider the number and size of cats you have. Larger cats or multi-cat households do best with a fountain that holds over a gallon of water and has multiple streams or bowls. The Catit Flower Fountain is a good option for most households.

Opt for stainless steel or ceramic over plastic fountains if possible, as these materials are more durable and easier to keep clean. Avoid cheap plastic fountains which may harbor bacteria.

Place the Fountain

Cats prefer their water source to be in a separate location from their food bowl. Place the fountain in a quiet area of your home where your cat feels safe and comfortable drinking. Ideally, position it at least a few feet away from their food dishes. Cats have an instinct to avoid food and water contamination, so keeping these areas separate helps them accept the fountain more readily.

Some good fountain locations are in a spare bathroom, laundry room, or corner of the kitchen. Avoid high-traffic zones where your cat could feel startled while drinking. You want a tranquil spot where they can relax. Ensure the cord reaches an outlet safely without presenting a tripping hazard.

Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions regarding wall clearance. Fountains can splash and will need refilling, so pick a location that is easy to access and clean up.


How to get your cat used to a drinking fountain


Get Your Cat Used to It

The key to getting your cat comfortable with the new fountain is to let them inspect it thoroughly while it’s off and reward any curiosity. Cats are naturally cautious of novel items and need time to get used to them. When you first set up the fountain, let your cat observe it from a distance and approach in their own time. Offer treats as they get closer or start sniffing around the fountain.

During this introductory period, don’t place any pressure on your cat to drink from the fountain. Simply allow them to explore and acclimate. Give treats for sniffing, pawing at or showing interest in the fountain. This creates a positive association. With patience during this phase, your cat will likely become comfortable with this new object in their environment.

Make sure the fountain is off and without water at first. Once your cat seems relaxed around it, add a small amount of water. Again let them adjust to this change before turning the fountain on. Take things slowly and give your cat time to inspect everything fully. With positive reinforcement, they’ll come to see the fountain as a normal part of their home.

Turn the Fountain On

When first introducing your cat to the fountain, it’s best to start with just a trickle of water rather than turning it on full blast. The sound of running water at high volume could startle your cat and make them wary of approaching. Begin with a slow, gentle stream of water so the fountain seems non-threatening.

You’ll also want to supervise your cat the first few times you turn on the fountain. That way you can monitor their reaction and make any adjustments if needed. Some cats may be hesitant at first but will gradually warm up to the fountain once they see and hear the water movement. If your cat seems fearful, try keeping them at a distance and using treats to positively reinforce coming near the fountain. With time and patience, your cat will likely become comfortable drinking from the new fountain.

It’s important not to leave the fountain running unsupervised until you’re sure your cat has acclimated. Cats can be skittish, so start slow and remain present as they get accustomed to the sights and sounds of the water fountain.[1] With your guidance, the fountain will transition from a novel curiosity to a refreshing source of hydration.

[1] https://www.catit.com/spotlight/how-to-get-your-cat-used-to-a-drinking-fountain/

Add the Cat’s Favorite Water

One way to help your cat transition to the new fountain is by using water from their old bowl at first. Cats can be very sensitive to changes in smell and taste, so the familiar water can provide some comfort. Slowly transition to fresh water from the fountain over the course of a few days or a week. Each time you refill the fountain, use a little less water from the old bowl and a bit more fresh water. Eventually, your cat will get used to the taste of the fresh water.

Try to maintain their old water bowl nearby during this transition period too. That way if your cat is still unsure about the fountain, they have their familiar bowl as a backup. Just be sure to empty and refresh the backup bowl daily so the water stays clean.

Adding a few ice cubes to the fountain or chilling the water can also help it smell and taste more familiar. The cold temperature is often similar to the water cats are used to from bowls kept on the kitchen floor.

With patience and gradual exposure, your cat will come to see the fountain as their new source of fresh, tasty water. But be sure to ease them into it gently using water from their old bowl at first (1). This can mean the difference between a difficult transition and a smooth, stress-free one for your cat.

Try Enticements

One way to entice your cat to approach and use the fountain is to place things they enjoy near it. Putting some catnip, treats, or favorite toys around the fountain can encourage curious cats to check it out. You can also try having the human your cat is most bonded with sit near the fountain. Your cat may be more inclined to explore something new if their favorite person is close by.

For particularly timid cats, having you sit by the fountain and actively encourage them with toys or treats can help them overcome any initial fear or distrust of the unusual object. Some gentle petting and praise when they do approach can further reinforce that it’s a safe and positive place. With time and patience, associating fun things with the fountain can make your cat excited rather than apprehensive about this new water source.[1]

Refill Diligently

Cats can be picky about their water, so it’s important to refill the fountain regularly with fresh water to keep it clean and encourage drinking. The water should be changed at least every 2-3 days according to experts (https://petlibro.com/blogs/all/cat-water-fountain-maintenance-101). Allowing the water to sit for too long can cause bacteria build up. When refilling, wash the fountain thoroughly with soap and water.

Disassemble the fountain to access all areas and wash the pump, filters, bowls, etc with hot, soapy water. Rinse everything thoroughly after washing. Use pet-safe cleaners or just regular dish soap. Vinegar can be used occasionally to dissolve hard water deposits. Dry all parts fully before refilling the fountain.

Develop a routine for changing the water and washing the fountain thoroughly on a regular basis. Many fountains come with multiple filters that can prolong the time between full cleanings. But don’t allow the water to sit for more than a few days, even with a filter.


Some cats can be picky or reluctant to transition to a fountain. Here are some solutions to help get your cat drinking from the fountain:

For picky cats, try adding a few drops of tuna juice, low-sodium chicken broth, or your cat’s favorite wet food to the fountain water to entice them. You can gradually reduce the amount added over time as they get accustomed to drinking from it.

If your cat is used to plastic bowls, start by placing their plastic bowl next to the fountain so they have access to both. Slowly move the plastic bowl closer and closer to the fountain over a period of days or weeks until your cat is drinking directly from the fountain.

Make sure the fountain is cleaned regularly according to instructions so the water tastes fresh. Stagnant or dirty water can deter picky cats.

Consider trying different fountains with varying flow rates and basin shapes if your cat seems afraid of the fountain at first. Look for ones advertised as quieter for timid cats.

Be patient and give your cat time to adjust. Provide plenty of encouragement and rewards when they interact with the fountain.

Be Patient

Training cats to use a new water fountain takes time and consistency. Cats are creatures of habit and can be reluctant to change their established routines. You may need to reintroduce and reinforce the water fountain over a period of days or weeks before your cat fully adapts to using it.

It’s important not to get frustrated or try to rush the process. Cats will adapt at their own pace. With positive reinforcement like treats and praise, your cat will eventually come to see the fountain as their new normal source of fresh, flowing water. But you need to allow them sufficient time to investigate it, get comfortable with the sound of the pump, and learn to drink from the unusual fountain spouts.

Have patience as you work with your cat’s natural instincts. The key is keeping the fountain cleaned, filled, and running so that it’s always available. Before long, your cat will be happily drinking fresh filtered water from their new fountain on a regular basis. But don’t expect an overnight change. Work with your cat’s temperament and allow them to come around in their own time.

Scroll to Top