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Home > Cats > Do Cats Need a Water Fountain? Vet-Reviewed Pros & Cons

Do Cats Need a Water Fountain? Vet-Reviewed Pros & Cons

cat drinking from water fountain

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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We all know that water is essential for life for everyone, human or animal. However, cats often leave their water bowls untouched while they lap away at the faucet, causing many pet owners to wonder if they would be better off with a fountain. Cats don’t necessarily need a water fountain, but it can be beneficial for certain cats. Keep reading as we list a few reasons that your cat might prefer a water fountain, as well as a few drawbacks of this device, so you can see if it’s right for you.

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Top 5 Water Fountain Pros

1. Cats Prefer Moving Water

Many people don’t know this, but cats have relatively poor depth vision and a blind spot in front of their nose, making it hard to see standing water in a bowl. They won’t drink it if they can’t see it, and this is likely why many cats seem to ignore their water bowl and seek out water in other areas of the house. A water fountain eliminates this problem because the moving water is easy to see, even from a distance.


2. Water Fountains Attract Cats

Cats have excellent hearing, and the constant sound of running water will likely attract your pet because they are curious animals. Once they arrive at the fountain and determine what it is, they will likely stop to take a drink, which will help keep them hydrated.

cat looking at water fountain
Image Credit: Bianca Grueneberg, Shutterstock

3. Water Fountains Remove Contaminants

Most commercial cat water fountains have one or more filters to help remove contaminants like dust and hair. These filters enable your cat to have cleaner water than when drinking from a bowl, and the fountain cleans the water continuously as it pumps it through the system.


4. Water Fountains Taste and Smell Better

The hair, dirt, and other impurities that can end up in your pet’s water can change the flavor, and filtering them out will help keep it fresh. As the water pumps through the system, it also gathers oxygen, which can help it taste better than water in a bowl.

longhair cat drinking water from a pet drinking fountain
Image By: Lightspruch, Shutterstock

5. Water Fountains Are Easier to Use

Many of the water bowls given to cats tend to be too small and can bend the cat’s whiskers as they try to drink, which can cause discomfort. In contrast, water fountains tend to be large, giving the cat easy access to the water without bending their whiskers, leading to a more pleasurable experience.

Finding a great water fountain that you and your cat will both love is harder than it sounds.

Hepper Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain
  • Premium 304-Grade Stainless Steel - This metal cat water fountain is hygienic, with superior...
  • Serene & Healthy Cat Drinking Fountain Experience - With whisper-quiet pumping & an advanced...
  • Say Goodbye to Dehydration - Provide your cat with a constant source of flowing water with this...

We recommend Hepper's Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain, a beautifully designed option with triple filtration, adjustable flow modes, and a conveniently large capacity. This fountain is easy to clean (many parts are even dishwasher-safe!) and sturdy enough to last for years. 

At Pet Keen, we've admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool company!

divider-cat Top 4 Water Fountain Cons

1. Water Fountains Use Electricity

Water fountains use a small, quiet pump to circulate the water through the system, requiring a small amount of electricity. While the pump is small, the cost of the electricity that it uses can add up over your cat’s lifetime.

Scottish Fold drinking from water fountain
Image By: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

2. Fountain Pumps Can Burn Out

While durable, the small pump in your cat’s water fountain can burn out and stop working. The power supply that powers the unit can also burn out. If either of these things breaks, you might be able to get a replacement part, but most pet owners just get a new unit instead.


3. Fountain Pumps Need Frequent Filter Replacements

Your water filter can have several filters inside that you will need to replace frequently to help keep the water clean. Many filters use activated charcoal and other ingredients, so you won’t be able to clean them, though you might be able to get some of the debris out of secondary sponge filters on certain units.

cat water fountain
Image By: Vershinin89, Shutterstock

4. The Fountain Can Get Moldy

Unfortunately, the damp, dark insides of your cat’s water fountain are the perfect breeding grounds for mold, especially in the summer when temperatures rise. To prevent mold growth, you will need to clean your fountain thoroughly every few days and change the water daily. White vinegar can help remove any green stains that you see, but you will need to rinse it away completely, or it could affect the flavor of the water.

divider-cat Water Fountain Tips and Tricks

  • Keep the food bowl and water fountain about 3 feet apart to prevent your cat from smelling food while they drink.
  • Keep your water fountain away from the litter box to prevent particles from contaminating the water supply.
  • Cats prefer a quiet place to drink, so choose a location away from heavy foot traffic.
  • Choose a fountain that alerts you with a sound or flashing lights that the water level is low. This will prevent your cat from running out of water and getting dehydrated and will also prevent the pump from running dry, which can damage it.
  • Ensure that your water fountain uses only non-toxic, food-grade materials.

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Conclusion

Most cats will likely prefer a fountain over a water bowl because standing water is hard to see, and their instincts may warn them that it can harbor bacteria. Water fountains keep the water moving so it stays fresh, and the built-in filters help remove impurities. The sound of running water can also help attract cats, causing them to drink more often, so there is less risk of dehydration.

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Featured Image Credit: Creative Cat Studio, Shutterstock

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