Are Cat Fountains Really Worth It?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about getting my cats a water fountain, and I wanted to know if it was really worth it. I’m usually pretty minimalist when it comes to home décor and flashy accessories, but it’s a different story when my cats come into the picture. Pampering my cats like they’re my children?

Yes, I’m definitely guilty!

I like to get my cats everything they need to lead healthy and happy lives (all nine of them!), so I did some research to see if cat fountains are beneficial or if they’re simply smoke and mirrors.

So are cat fountains really worth it? Fountains can be expensive, clunky, and require maintenance. However, they can provide fresher water, promoting hydration. If a cat needs encouragement to stay hydrated, a cat fountain can be a worthwhile solution.

Scottish straight short hair brown color cat drinking from cat water fountains

I’m so happy I did my research about cat water fountains before buying the first fountain I saw online. It turns out that there’s a lot of debate about them and the selection is vast.

If your cat has no issue staying hydrated with an old-fashioned bowl of water, then you probably don’t need one.

But even then, there are some surprising facts about fountains that may pique your interest, including a link between evolution and the sound of water that causes cats to have a preference for running water.

Like how my Foo Foo loves to drink out of our laundry room faucet every morning after breakfast.

With that said, fountains can also pose some unexpected annoyances in the household due to their mechanics.

Check out all the pros and cons to see if a cat fountain is right for your home.

Benefits of Cat Water Fountains

There are quite a few benefits that come along with having a cat water fountain in your home.

Many of these benefits never would’ve crossed my mind before actually researching them.

The benefits of fountains can be divided into two categories:

  • Health
  • Convenience

The health benefits can help contribute to your cat’s happy healthy lifestyle, while it can also improve the overall home environment by making your cat’s drinking habits more convenient for you.

First, the sole idea of cat water fountains is based on a design that keeps the water flowing regularly.

When water sits still for a long period of time, it can get dirty, dusty and polluted from bacterial growth.

Because cat fountains keep the water moving, bacterial growth is dramatically reduced.

In other words, the water stays “fresh”.

calico cat drinking from a kitchen faucet

Another contribution to keeping the water fresh is the integration of a filter.

The activated carbon filter removes bad tastes and odors from the water, keeping it fresh.

The granulated carbon is made from coconut shells for extended filtration like the one from the PetSafe Drinkwell 360.

Most cat fountains include a filtration system that is designed to remove impurities from tap water.

Many of these filters can also catch hair and dust particles, so your cat is only drinking pure, clean water.

Sometimes stagnant water collects a particular odor that can be off-putting.

Free-flowing water, on the other hand, remains odorless, which can help entice your cat to drink.

There’s another way that cat fountains encourage felines to drink regularly.

In fact, research suggests that evolution plays a part.

Cats instinctively find the sound of running water to be much more appealing, which means that the sound of water running in the cat fountain can be attractive to your kitty.

This evolutionary quirk may even explain why cats tend to fancy drinking water straight from a dripping faucet!

This brings us to the first benefit that falls into the ‘convenience’ category.

Many cat owners struggle with curious cats that jump up on counters.

Often, these cats may be looking for a different water source, such as a sink.

I’ve even caught one of my cats drinking straight out of my own glass of water that I left on the counter.

grey cat drinking from a cup on a kitchen counter

Happens all the time in my house.

Cat fountains can sometimes replace this counter curiosity by providing an engaging source of fresh, running water.

Another benefit of cat fountains is that the reservoir is typically built to hold a significant amount of water.

This is fantastic for pet owners who are outside of the home for long periods of time.

Instead of coming home to find a bowl that is bone-dry, the large reservoir of a fountain can ensure that your cat has plenty of water to last while you’re away.

Finally, there is one more aspect of cat fountains that can benefit pet owners.

Similar to the cat’s evolutionary attraction to the sound of running water, many individuals find this sound soothing.

A cat fountain that provides the gentle sound of running water can be a therapeutic addition to the ambiance of your home.

Drawbacks of Cat Water Fountains

To be honest, most of the drawbacks to cat fountains affect the pet owner directly, instead of the cats.

Because a cat fountain is a much more complex design than a simple watering bowl, it requires some special attention, which contributes to most of the drawbacks listed here.

First of all, cat fountains can be quite noisy.

While some people find the sound of running water therapeutic, others find it annoying.

And if the reservoir runs out of the water, the weird sound of the motor grinding without water can be even more unpleasant.

Cat fountains can also be obtrusive to your living space.

Children, dogs, and clumsy guests can bump the fountain (either on purpose or by accident), yielding to a messy spill that requires attention.

While some fountains run on batteries, others require a cord, adding to the confusion and tripping hazard.

Depending on the type of fountain, even a slight impact or tumble can cause the device to break.

Plastic fountains are much more durable, making for a better option if you’re like me and have rambunctious nephews who like to run around when they visit.

Ceramic fountains, on the other hand, can be more aesthetically pleasing but are much more fragile.

Another significant drawback of cat water fountains is that they require much more upkeep and maintenance than a traditional water dish.

First off, some fountains require assembly, so be sure to check the packaging instructions before you purchase one.

Unlike bowls, cat fountains are much more difficult to clean, too.

This is due to the pump mechanism built into the fountain.

Regular cleaning is required in order to keep bacteria from building up within the pump and filtration system of the fountain.

Some cat fountains even require a special cleaning kit, which must be purchased separately from the fountain itself.

In addition to cleaning, there’s another thing involved with the filtration system.

Many cat water fountains require a steady rotation of new filters in order to maintain a quality filtration performance.

This means that you’ll need to change the filter regularly if you want the fountain to work properly.

The purchase of new filters can quickly add up, leading to the next drawback of cat fountains.

The price.

While there are some fountains priced around $30, a quick browse of the selection of quality cat fountains shows that they can quickly approach $60 or more.

And if the pump or filtration mechanism breaks, you can add a replacement part to your projected cost.

Are Cat Fountains Safe?

The pros and cons of cat fountains really tend to depend on your particular living situation and whether your cat has any issues drinking from a regular bowl.

Since I’m home most of the day, I can keep an eye on my cats’ drinking dishes to make sure they’re fresh and clean.

But thinking about my cousin, who often has 12-hour shifts at work, having a cat fountain could be much more convenient for her.

But whether or not you think a cat fountain is beneficial for your home, it’s important to consider the element of safety above all else.

I read a lot of articles to consider all the angles of safety when it comes to fountains, and the results were really interesting.

It turns out that the safety of fountains truly depends on a number of factors, including the material of the fountain and the effectiveness of the filtration system.

cat drinking outside from a trough

Not all cat fountains are created equally, so if you’re shopping for a cat fountain, definitely take these things into consideration.

In general, most cat fountains are pretty safe when you’re considering their electrical power source.

Cat fountains usually feature a very low voltage to power the pump, meaning electrical shock shouldn’t be a concern.

However, the material of the water basin can influence safety:

  • Plastic materials may contain BPA, which has been linked to various health risks.
  • Stainless steel, on the other hand, is FDA approved and Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS).
  • Ceramic basins are also generally considered safe.

The difference in filters can also affect overall safety.

While some filters are designed with activated carbon to remove toxins from the water, others are only designed to remove debris and hair.

So in general, cat fountains are considered to be safe.

However, different elements, such as material and filtration design, can impact some aspects of safety.

Do Cats Like Water Fountains?

And finally, the question that could make or break in your decision to purchase a fountain

Do cats like water fountains? Unsurprisingly, this depends heavily on your cat’s unique interests and demands.

Some of us cat owners are working with very picky felines who would raise a pinky while drinking water if they could!

If your cat tends to avoid the water dish and opt for hanging out by the sink, then there’s a good chance she will enjoy having a cat fountain.

Even cats that show no fuss about drinking from a plain dish typically adapt well to drinking fountains.

Because of the evolutionary history of felines, which leads to a preference for the sound of running water, chances are your cat will like drinking from a fountain.

In general, most cats tend to not be bothered by cat water fountains, so long as the basin is large enough to access without disturbing their whiskers.

Related Questions

Do cats prefer running water? Research suggests that cats are attracted to the sound of running water. This stems from evolutionary development. One theory suggests that feline instincts express a preference for running water because of its reduced risk for bacterial growth and overall increased freshness.

How much do cat fountains cost? Cat water fountains include a wide range of price points and can fall anywhere from $20 to past $100. Additional costs of cat water fountains include the filters and suggested cleaning kit.

How do cat fountains work? Most cat water fountains feature an electric pump, which moves water from the reservoir to the basin. This movement provides fresh water. Additionally, some fountains include a filtration system that enhances the water freshness by removing toxins and impurities.



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