Should You Let Your Cat’s Water Fountain Flow 24/7?


Cat fountains have become a popular way to provide pets with fresh, flowing water. The circulating water keeps it cooler and more appealing than stagnant bowl water. However, some cat owners wonder if it’s safe to leave a cat fountain running at all times. There are pros and cons to this practice that warrant consideration before making a decision.

Pros of Leaving Fountain On

There are several benefits to leaving a cat fountain on at all times:

Provides constant access to fresh water – Unlike bowls that can get stale, fountains continuously cycle and filter water to keep it cool and fresh. This constant access encourages cats to drink more (Cat Water Fountains: Pros and Cons).

Encourages drinking – Moving water is naturally attractive to cats, tapping into their instincts to seek out flowing streams and rapids. The sound and motion entice them to drink more often (Can you leave a cat water fountain on all the time?).

Mimics natural flowing water – Fountains provide a healthier alternative to still water dishes. The flowing, filtered water is similar to the fresh sources cats are evolutionarily attracted to (Is it safe to leave a cat’s filtered water fountain running all the time?).

Cons of Leaving Fountain On

While leaving a cat fountain on all the time provides a constant source of fresh water, there are some potential downsides to consider:

Without proper cleaning and maintenance, the stagnant water can breed bacteria that could make your cat sick. Cat fountains should be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected, and have the filter replaced regularly according to manufacturer instructions, typically every 2-4 weeks (Source).

There is also a risk of the fountain overflowing or leaking if the pump malfunctions or gets clogged. An overflow could create a mess and leaks could damage your flooring. Checking it daily can help catch any issues early.

Since it runs 24/7, an always-on fountain uses more electricity than one that is turned off periodically. This leads to higher energy costs, especially for larger, more powerful models.

Tips for Safety

When using a cat water fountain, there are some tips to follow that can help keep your cat safe and prevent any issues with the fountain itself:

Invest in a quality fountain with sensors and overflow protection like the Catit Flower Fountain. These features can detect issues and automatically shut off the fountain to prevent messes or floods.

Keep the fountain clean with regular cleaning and filter changes as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Change filters every 2-4 weeks and do a thorough clean of the fountain every 1-2 months. Dirty fountains can breed bacteria.

Check on the fountain daily to make sure it is functioning properly with no leaks or overflow issues. Look for any signs of algae buildup or gunk which could indicate it’s time for a cleaning.

Following these tips can help minimize any risks when leaving a cat fountain on continuously.

Fountain Placement

When deciding where to place your cat’s water fountain, it’s important to choose a location that is safe and accessible for your cat. Here are some key tips for ideal fountain placement:

Keep the fountain away from electrical outlets or valuables. Even high-quality fountains can occasionally leak or spill, so you’ll want to avoid placing it near anything that could be damaged by water. It’s best to place it on an easily cleanable surface like tile or linoleum.

Put the fountain in a low-traffic area of your home, where it is unlikely to get knocked over or disturbed. Cats prefer to drink from quiet areas where they feel relaxed and safe. High activity rooms like kitchens are not ideal fountain locations.

Make sure your cat can easily access the fountain. Don’t place it in an out-of-the way spot. But do keep it separate from your cat’s food bowls, to help prevent contamination.

Consider your cat’s preferred hangouts when deciding where to put the fountain. Placing it near areas your cat frequents will encourage use.

Avoid direct sunlight, which can promote bacterial growth in the fountain water. And don’t place it right next to a heating vent, which could make the water too warm.

Ideally, place your cat’s fountain in a peaceful yet accessible spot, safely away from electronics and high traffic areas (source). This will make it most inviting for your cat!

Routine Maintenance

Keeping your cat’s water fountain clean is essential for providing fresh, filtered water and preventing the growth of mold and bacteria. Here are some general guidelines for maintaining a cat fountain:

Daily – Check for any leaks or overflowing water and wipe down exterior with a paper towel. Refill water to line as needed.

Weekly – Disassemble fountain and clean all parts with pet-safe cleaner or gentle soap and water. Soak the pump in vinegar water to descale. Replace filter if needed. Allow all parts to fully dry before reassembling.

Monthly – Replace filter cartridge/pad per manufacturer instructions, usually every 4-6 weeks. Check for buildup in nooks and crevices.

Quarterly – Do a deep clean by fully disassembling the fountain and soaking all parts in a 50/50 vinegar-water solution. Scrub thoroughly and allow to dry. This removes limescale buildup. Replace tubing if worn.

Following this cleaning schedule helps remove bacteria, prevent clogs and buildup, and keeps the fountain operating properly. Always refer to manufacturer guidelines for the specific model. With routine care, a fountain should provide fresh water for 1-2 years.

Signs It’s Time For a New One

There are some telltale signs that indicate when it’s time to replace your cat’s water fountain. Keep an eye out for the following:

Leaking or Faulty Pump

One of the most obvious signs is a leak coming from the pump area. This likely indicates a faulty pump that needs to be replaced. Persistent leaks can create unsafe conditions and even electrical issues.

Discolored Plastic

Over time, the plastic may become stained or take on a cloudy white appearance. This is a sign that minerals and contaminants are building up. While you can try to clean it, degraded plastic is difficult to fully restore.

Mineral Deposits

Hard water can leave behind calcium, magnesium, and other mineral deposits on the fountain. If scrubbing and vinegar soaks don’t remove them, the plastic may be too far gone.

Clogged Pump

A pump that seems to have a weaker flow than normal could be clogged with sediment, hair, and other debris. Take it apart for a thorough cleaning. If the flow isn’t restored, it’s a red flag that you need a replacement.

Top-Rated Cat Fountains

When looking for a cat fountain that’s safe to leave on, focus on models with features like sensors, filters, and dishwasher-safe parts for easy cleaning. Here are some top options:

The Drinkwell Pagoda Ceramic Fountain has dual free-falling streams, a submersible pump with low voltage power, and a replaceable charcoal filter to keep water fresh. Its ceramic design is easy to clean and looks great in any home.

The PetSafe Drinkwell Platinum Pet Fountain features a reservoir with built-in filtration, along with a pre-filter and foam filter to keep hair and debris out of the pump. It also has a sensor to keep water flowing when your cat is nearby.

The Pioneer Pet Raindrop Fountain has a stainless steel design that’s rust-resistant and dishwasher safe. It includes a charcoal filter plus a pre-filter foam sheet to ensure clean water. The pump and electrical parts are safely enclosed to prevent chewing damage.

Look for fountains with dishwasher-safe parts, replaceable filters, sensors, low-voltage submersible pumps, and free-falling water streams to help keep your cat hydrated in a safe and hygienic way.

Making an Informed Decision

When deciding whether to leave a cat water fountain on at all times, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons for your specific situation. Consider your cat’s preferences and drinking habits. For example, does your cat prefer running water and drink more when the fountain is on? Or does your cat drink the same amount from a bowl? Other factors to consider are the fountain placement, maintenance routine, and sign of wear and tear.

The main advantage of leaving a fountain on is providing fresh, circulating water at all times. This encourages hydration and can promote urinary health. However, there are some safety considerations to keep in mind. Make sure the fountain and cords are placed securely out of reach. Check frequently for signs of leaking or electrical issues. Perform regular maintenance like changing filters and cleaning thoroughly.

Most fountains are designed to run continuously without problems. But over years of use, pumps can wear out. Look for changes like abnormal noise, reduced flow, or increased algae buildup as signs it may be time for replacement. With proper care and precautions, it is generally safe to leave a quality fountain on 24/7. But weigh factors carefully as part of an informed decision.


Leaving the fountain on is generally safe with some basic precautions. The key is to provide cats with constant access to fresh, clean water. This encourages drinking and optimal feline health. As long as the fountain is cleaned and maintained properly, and placed in an appropriate location, it can safely remain on at all times.

The main safety concern with leaving a fountain on continuously is bacterial growth if not cleaned regularly. This risk can be mitigated through weekly cleanings and filter changes. Also be sure to inspect the fountain daily for signs of issues. Providing fresh, circulating water will help keep your cat hydrated and healthy.

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