How To Choose The Best Water Fountain For Your Cat

How To Choose The Best Water Fountain For Your Cat (including recommendations from our community members at TheCatSite)

Many cats prefer their water not just fresh but flowing, too. The answer? Get Kitty a water fountain! The constant flow is a great way to ensure a supply of fresh water in a way that your cat finds attractive.

In this article, we're going to explain how a cat water fountain can help improve your cat's health and well-being and discuss the most important aspects you need to keep in mind while shopping for a cat water fountain. Finally, we offer you reviews and links to some of the best and most popular water fountains as recommended by thousands of cat lovers here in TheCatSite forums.

Note: We may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page.

What's a cat water fountain anyway?

Water fountains for cats are really elaborate and sophisticated water dishes, designed to encourage cats to drink more. Your basic cat water fountain has a reservoir of water and a pump which constantly pulls water out of the reservoir to bring it down again in a nice humming little waterfall.

The principle here is that of constant flow.

No one knows exactly why but it's clear that many cats have a distinct preference for drinking running water. Many cats "teach" or "train" their owners to run the tap for them when they're thirsty. They prefer the fresh oxygenated stream to still water from their regular dish.

A water fountain saves you the need to turn on the tap for Kitty. And saves her the need to ask you to do so. Running water becomes constantly available at all times, without your active involvement.

What's more, water fountains save water too. Most owners who turn the tap on for their cat don't stick around and wait for the cat to finish drinking. Instead, they tend to leave it running for a while and return at a later point to turn off the tap. Which wastes precious water.

With a fountain, the water is constantly recycled back into the water reservoir so none is lost when your cat isn't drinking.

Why should you get a water fountain for your cat?

All cats need water as an essential part of their diet. If you don't have a water fountain yet and are wondering if your cat would benefit from one, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. If you feed kibble (dry cat food), you need to encourage your cat to drink more water. A water fountain will arouse more interest and possibly encourage Kitty to consume more fluids.
  2. Is your cat prone to urinary problems? Diluting the urine is often a key to keeping any urinary problem at bay. With FLUTD, the more you can get Kitty to drink, the better.
  3. Does your cat like to paw at the water dish? Many cats find flowing water fascinating and use it as a way to fight boredom. A water fountain offers extra stimulation and helps keep indoor-only cats happy.
  4. Cats have unique and idiosyncratic preferences when it comes, well, to almost anything really! Even something as simple as having a drink of water. Some cats just like their water to flow. If your cat keeps asking you to turn on the tap for her or him, you should definitely consider buying a water fountain.

What you need to know before buying a water fountain

Not sure which cat water fountain to buy? Here are the most important things to keep in mind.

Location of energy source

Drinking fountains run on electricity. You need to make sure there's an available outlet near the area where you'll place your fountain. When choosing a model, look at the length of cord offered with it. You may need an extension to that cord, depending on the final location of the fountain.

If shopping for a kitten, consider cat-proofing the electric cable to keep it safe from small teeth. Read more about chewing problems in kittens and cats and what to do to keep them safe.

Potential water damage

Cats drink by lowering the tongue into the water and then quickly bringing it up into the mouths. The feline tongue is covered by tiny barbs which hold some of the water between them. A small amount of water is bound to get off the tongue and around the cat.

What's more, some cats love to paw at the water and play with the fountain flow. Again, splashing may occur.

As you're looking to locate your water fountain, try to keep it away from expensive rugs, drywall, plaster walls or any other material which could get damaged by water.

If your cat is a "splasher" look for a larger fountain with a shallow reservoir to minimize the spread of water around Kitty's drinking area.

How to choose the right water fountain for your cat?

Cat water fountains come in a variety of sizes, colors, and designs. They all provide fresh flowing water and they're all automated in the sense that you don't need to interfere with their workings.

Choose a fountain that appeals to you aesthetically and will be a good match to your decor and then check the reviews. Things to pay attention to include:

  1. The size of the water reservoir
  2. The amount of noise produced by the running water
  3. How other people's cats seem to be interacting with that fountain.
  4. How much maintenance does the fountain require?
  5. What kind of customer service did other owners of that model get and were they happy with that?

Don't disqualify a fountain on the basis of a single negative review. Every product can have a defective unit - the question is just how the manufacturer addressed the issue.

Here are links to our cat water fountains discussion threads, and here's a quick look at 8 cat fountains members of TheCatSite really seem to like:

Pioneer Fountain Big Max in Stainless Steel

Read our members' reviews on the Pioneer Fountain Big Max or add your own. "An excellent pet fountain, especially if you have multiple pets." Buy this on Amazon

Cat Mate Pet Fountain

Read our members' reviews on the Cat Mate Pet Fountain or add your own. "Quiet, easy to clean, cat loves it - 10 stars!!!" Buy on Amazon

Pioneer Pet Raindrop Ceramic Drinking Fountain

Read our members' reviews on the Pioneer Pet Raindrop Ceramic Drinking Fountain or add your own. "Easy to clean, runs quietly, stylish." Buy on Amazon

Catit Flower Fountain

Read our members' reviews on the Catit Flower Fountain or add your own. "Low maintenance, cats love it." Buy on Amazon

Drinkwell by Petsafe Hydrate Water Filtration System for Cats

Read our members' reviews on the Drinkwell by Petsafe Hydration system or add your own. "It turns a simple dish into a water fountain. You can put it in a shallow dish to create a waterfall effect or completely submerge to create a swirling effect." Buy on Amazon

Petmate Deluxe Fresh Flow

Read our members' reviews on the Petmate Deluxe Fresh Flow or add your own. "No more running to turn on faucets for cats!" Buy on Amazon

Catit Fresh & Clear Drinking Fountain

Read our members' reviews on the Catit Fresh & Clear Drinking Fountain or add your own. "Runs well, Kitty is attracted to it. Small and does not splash." Buy on Amazon

Pioneer Pet Swan Cat Drinking Fountain

Read our members' reviews on the Pioneer Pet Swan Drinking Fountain or add your own. "It worked! It's terrific!" Buy on Amazon

Maintaining your new cat water fountain

As water evaporates, you'll have to top off the dish or tank with some more. Depending on the size of the dish or reservoir, this may need to be done every day or once every few days.

The fountain should be cleaned as per the manufacturer's instructions. If you don't clean it on time, you risk fungi and slime growth.

Most fountains also require timely changing of carbon filters, so you may want to shop for a few of those as well.

Does your cat have a water fountain? Any tips for those who are out there shopping for a new one? Leave us a comment to let us know what's your favorite cat water fountain is!

6 comments on “How To Choose The Best Water Fountain For Your Cat

35 year catdad March 20, 2020
Im hyper frugal ..ok cheap and just use a 2 watt tiny submersible pump in bottom of a large ceramic water bowl. I save money this way to afford 3 cats and very high quality feed. pumps collect hair fast and gunk up which causes bad tastes- maybe thats why after two yrs that fellow had problems. I think my last pump online was 7 dollars. Jaboe? something like that -I found it online. If I dont use it they are pawing the water to get it moving with paws that dig in poopy catboxes:(
    35 year catdad March 20, 2020
    P.S. forgot to say...I've given up on stainless water bowls as they just dont like the metallic taste I guess?
valou999 September 23, 2018
I bought a ceramic Pet Pioneer fountain (different model from the ones seen here) and my cat loved it for the first 2 years. Then, for not apparent reason, he lost complete interest with it and he's now back to a static water bowl... and the toilet. I recently got a new kitten and he seems to like the fountain, though he also uses the bowl... and the toilet. Not entirely a success! Oh and, btw, you should always aim to get a ceramic or stainless steel fountain or bowl. Some cats have allergies to plastic.
tarasgirl06 September 13, 2018
Re-reading with appreciation, this excellent article; and I would like to add to my post below, that in order to keep floors safe from drips and puddles, we use IKEA trays under our fountain, stationery water bowls and food bowls. These trays are affordable, attractive, washable, and very practical. *And IKEA has an entire line of products for cats, too!*
happilyretired July 14, 2017
I have always used Drinkwell fountains for my cats, and they've all loved them. But I recently switched from the plastic model to their new ceramic one. I was concerned that it might be fragile, but it's held up great. I am careful to clean it weekly and change the filters as instructed.
tarasgirl06 July 8, 2017
Thank you for yet another excellent article with great suggestions and information. We have the good ol' Drinkwell pictured here -- in fact, we're on our second one as our servant broke our first one :( The redesign on the second one makes it a lot easier to disassemble and clean and re-assemble. Our servant bought out a business that had a lot of filters, so we have a lot of those for a long time. The three of us love this fountain and drink from it frequently. Servant loves the calming, serene sound of flowing water in the breakfast room. Win/win!:geekcat::cutecat::kneading:

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