Cat Water Fountain Buying Guide
To make the process easier for you, we’ve compiled a handy cat water fountain buying guide, in addition to our pet water fountain reviews. This is your one-stop source for all the information you need to buy a cat water fountain that will keep both you and your pet happy.
While cat water fountains are a great buy for both kitties and their owners, the actual selection process can be confusing. Not knowing which features to look for, having insufficient information on filter types, being unaware of the pros and cons of the different materials cat water fountains are available in, and lacking information on all the factors you need to pay attention to when selecting a pet fountain – all these issues can lead to you making a purchase you might regret.
There are numerous benefits to purchasing a cat water fountain – not only is it a major upgrade for your cat, it is also incredibly convenient for you:
Cats’ wild ancestors lived in dry areas where there was little to no water. Instead, they obtained most of their hydration from the moisture-rich meat of their prey. For domestic cats, however, the situation is entirely different. While they have inherited their ancestors’ low thirst drive, modern-day domestic cats do not have the same diet. While wet food provides some (but not adequate) hydration, dry food offer next to no moisture (its water content is 6-10% at best). Natural disinterest in drinking water, combined with a moisture-deficient diet, are the reasons why it is essential to find a method to ensure your kitty is properly and sufficiently hydrated. Cat water fountains are the best way to do this. A bowl of standing water has zero appeal for cats. A cat water fountain, however, is attractive and interesting to cats on account of its novelty. It provides running water, which appeals to cats owing to their strong peripheral vision and also because they instinctively trust running water more than stagnant water. The fresh, cool, aerated and pure water that water fountains provide encourages cats to drink more, ensuring their proper hydration.
Urinary Tract Diseases Prevention
Cats are particularly susceptible to urinary tract diseases and renal diseases. Since a cat water fountain encourages them to drink more water, it can also aid in preventing such diseases, and contributing to the better health of your pet. Drinking more water will also keep your kitty’s coat and gums healthy, in addition to preventing constipation.
A regular bowl of standing water can accumulate bacteria or fungus. The filtered and constantly circulating water in a cat water fountain, however, is more hygienic, free of impurities, has zero bacterial build-up, and is oxygenated to the max. This means better health for your kitty, and less vet bills for you to pay.
Convenient For Pet Owners
The benefits of a cat water dispenser are not restricted to felines – pet owners also have much to gain from a pet water fountain. These fountains provide added ease and convenience – you no longer have to refill your cat’s water as frequently as before. In addition, cat water fountains can also add to the décor of your home, and are also great for making the air in your home cleaner and fresher.
What Features Should You Look For In Cat Drinking Fountain?
While cat water fountains are highly beneficial for both cats and their owners, there are a number of features you will need to ensure your chosen fountain contains, in order to make it the best possible purchase. When on the lookout for a quality cat water fountain, the focus should be on reliability, durability, and plenty of great features to justify the cost, such as:
- Hygienic materials: The cat water fountain you choose needs to be made of materials that are hygienic. Stainless steel and ceramic are generally a safe bet but plastic cat water fountains also work great provided they are cleaned and maintained regularly – just make sure they are BPA-free!
- Height: While some cats are okay with bending down to drink, it is generally more comfortable for them to have their water dish at a somewhat elevated height. A comfortable, mid-level height will work great, not only for regular, healthy pets, but also for cats that are older or suffering from diseases such as arthritis. Multi-level fountains are also a great idea, since your pet/s have the option to choose whichever height they find most comfortable.
- In-built filtration: The best cat fountain will come with a filtration system, to ensure your pet is provided clean, fresh water, free of impurities, bad odors, and unpleasant tastes. A pre-filter (generally made of foam) is also a great idea, as this removes pet hair and other debris.
- Adjustable flow: Ideally, the best pet drinking fountain should have a variety of water flow styles (bubbling, free-falling stream, etc.), and the flow should be adjustable, so you can make it faster or gentler according to your cat’s preferences.
- Good water capacity: How much water can the pet fountain hold? This is important because you may have multiple pets, and/or require a fountain that can go for days without a refill. Some fountains come with built-in reservoirs, to increase water capacity.
- Well-designed: A good cat water fountain should be sturdy (i.e. solid and heavy enough to resist your kitty’s attempt to flip it or push it around), effective at containing the water (should be large/wide enough, and have a receiving ramp so water does not splash outside the fountain and make a mess), and visually appealing (should add to or at least blend into the décor of the home/kitchen).
- Attractive to cats: A great water fountain will have a simple yet functional design that will attract cats, and make them want to investigate and drink more water.
- Silent operation: A silent pet fountain is the best kind. The perfect cat water fountain will be completely noiseless when operating; the motor/pump should be silent (some are submersible, to make them even quieter), and the water should make minimal splashing noises (if at all). Keep in mind that to keep a cat water fountain quiet, it should be sufficiently filled, so you will need to keep the water at a particular level.
- Easy to clean: Your cat water fountain should be easy to disassemble, clean, and reassemble. It should also be dishwasher-safe, if possible.
- Energy-efficient: Check the energy consumption of the cat water fountain you’re considering, to ensure it consumes minimal electricity.
All good cat water fountains come with a filter – these are generally replaceable, so you’ll need to put in a new one at least once a month. The benefits they provide – keeping the water clean, fresh, and free of impurities and harmful components – make them an essential part of a cat water fountain. There are multiple types of cat water fountain filters you can choose from:
Carbon is one of the most powerful absorbents, which attracts and absorbs chemicals and all kinds of impurities. The most common types of carbon used in filters are bituminous, wood, and coconut shell carbons. While coconut shell carbons are the most expensive of the lot, they are also the most effective.
Carbon filters are ideal for purifying water – activated carbon is carbon that has been treated with oxygen, which opens up the pores between carbon atoms and makes the material even more absorbent. It absorbs chlorine, excessive calcium and magnesium (turning hard water soft), pesticides, bad smells, and any other harmful chemicals found in tap water, making it completely pure and safe for your pet.
Charcoal water filters are the same thing as carbon filters – the terms ‘activated carbon’ and ‘activated charcoal’ can be used interchangeably, since carbon is charcoal.
These work best as pre-filters – they are less about removing hidden impurities, pollutants and harmful chemicals in the water, and more about collecting hair and larger pieces of debris. Foam filters, with their porous surfaces, ensure there are no foreign bodies in the water, and prevent the water fountain pump from getting clogged. A cat water filter must be changed quite often.
What Is The Best Material For A Cat Water Fountain?
The best material for a cat water fountain is a purely subjective matter. There are three main types of materials available – plastic, stainless steel, and ceramic cat fountain – and each has their own pros and cons, which means different materials are suitable for different cats/pet owners.
Plastic Cat Water Fountains
Plastic has the advantage of being the cheapest material, but plastic cat water fountains do require regular cleaning (as plastic can absorb bad flavors and odors, making for poor hygiene if not cleaned properly), and you will need to ensure the plastic used is BPA-free. In addition, a plastic cat water fountain might prove too light-weight, making it easy for your kitty to knock the fountain down. However, there are also plenty of plastic water fountains available that are BPA-free, sturdy, and heavy enough to resist some cat aggression.
Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountains
Stainless steel pet fountains can really add to the décor of your kitchen – when well-built, they have a sleek minimalist look which is highly appealing. However, these types of cat water fountains can also stain/tarnish with regular use, so keeping them clean is essential. The good news is, stainless steel pet water fountains are the easiest to clean. In addition, they are pretty much unbreakable, unlike plastic water fountains, which can be flimsy if they are of inferior quality.
Ceramic Cat Water Fountains
A ceramic water fountain is typically the most expensive among all types of cat water fountains – however, they are also the most aesthetically pleasing. Ceramic is the most hygienic material, as is does not absorb smells or leak anything harmful into the water. In addition, a ceramic cat water fountain can also be quite heavy, which is both good and bad – good because this means you kitty can’t really knock it down or flip it over, but bad for when you have to lift it to move it around or clean it. A ceramic pet fountain will also require extra care during cleaning (by hand or dishwasher).
Things To Pay Attention To
When selecting a cat water fountain, there are a number of factors you need to pay attention to, in order to ensure you make the right choice. Here are some pointers on what to look for, to make sure you don’t end up regretting/being dissatisfied with your purchase:
BPA-FREE PLASTIC IN A CAT WATER FOUNTAIN
BPA stands for bisphenol A; it is an industrial chemical used in the production of plastic products. However, BPA is harmful for health (it has adverse effects on the brain and blood pressure, among others) and can seep into food and liquids that are stored in plastic containers made with the chemical. In order to ensure your kitty’s health, it is essential to check whether the plastic used in the construction of a cat water fountain is completely BPA-free.
Amount Of Pets
The amount of pets you have should be a major determining factor in your choice of a kitty water fountain. Multi-pet households need to invest in fountains that have a larger water capacity (smaller capacity ones will require you to refill more frequently), have a larger, wider, and deeper bowls (to ensure multiple kitties can drink simultaneously and comfortably, without their whiskers being obstructed), and possibly even multiple streams/multiple levels, to allow for multi-pet usage.
Water Softening Filters
In some areas/localities, tap water may be safe for pets to consume; however, tap water is generally too hard to make it ideal for your kitty to drink. To make the water more suitable for consumption, look for cat water fountains with water softening filters made with materials such as activated carbon – these remove calcium, magnesium, and other metal cations found in hard water, resulting in water that is ‘softer’, and safer for your cat to drink.
Cat water fountains with built-in reservoirs can be great for added convenience, or if you plan to be away for a while. Built-in reservoirs increase the capacity of the water fountain – this means less refills are required when you purchase a cat water fountain with reservoir.
While there’s nothing wrong with hand-washing a cat water fountain, it can be laborious and time consuming. Therefore, it is best to look for cat water fountains that are dishwasher safe – all you need to do is disassemble, pop the separate parts (except the pump and filters, of course) onto the top rack, and you’ll have a clean cat water fountain with minimal effort.
Customizable Water Flow
Cats are notoriously picky – it may very well be that your kitty might end up rejecting the cat water fountain you pick because it doesn’t like the water flow. To cover your bases, it is best to opt for a fountain that has a customizable water flow – that way you can pick between different types of water flow (a gently gushing stream, a free-falling stream, or a gurgling flow, etc.), and also adjust the intensity of the flow (make it faster, or slower) to suit your pet.
Extra accessories can be a bonus – some cat water fountains may come with additional replaceable filters, replacement adapters, cleaning kits, or decorative accessories. Some companies also offer a replacement cat water fountain pump if your original one burns out.
Tips On Keeping Your Pet Water Fountain Clean
With pet water fountains, the filters and the continuous movement of the water owing to the pump can keep both the fountain and water clean for longer than regular water dishes. HOWEVER, it is essential to note that pet water fountains still do require regular upkeep. Neglecting your cat’s water fountain can lead to clogged pumps, overuse of saturated filters, mold growth, fountains that stop working altogether, and layers of slime/grime which make the water impossible to drink and can affect your kitty’s health adversely if consumed. Here are a couple of quick tips to help you keep your pet water fountain clean:
- Clean at least once a month: Pet water fountains need to be disassembled and carefully cleaned at least once every month (more frequently if you notice it getting particularly dirty). Take it apart, clean all parts thoroughly, dry them out properly, and then put it back together.
- Replace water frequently: While a pet water fountain may not require refills as frequently as a regular water bowl, you do need to refill with fresh h2O on alternate days. In addition, make sure you keep the water at the required level, otherwise the pump and motor may burn out.
- Remember to replace filters: While your pet water fountain may be a long-term investment, the filter that comes with it isn’t. Filters need to be replaced at least once a month/every 30 days. However, it’s best to keep an eye on the filter, and if you notice it is particularly saturated, you can replace it sooner.
- Vinegar is your best friend: Vinegar is the best go-to product for cleaning a cat water fountain. Regardless of how thick a layer of slime you’re dealing with, or the stubbornness of a particular stain, all you need to do is mix 1 part vinegar in three parts water, disassemble the fountain, soak the required parts in your vinegar + water solution, and your cat fountain will be spotless, fresh-smelling, and as good as new.
- Use toothbrushes/Q-tips for those hard-to-reach places: The best pet water fountains are designed to have minimal nooks and crannies where slime can accumulate. However, if you find yourself with such a model, and are struggling to clean it satisfactorily, you might consider using a toothbrush or a Q-tip to scrub out all those tiny, hard-to-reach spots. Remember, you need to clean every corner thoroughly, in order to prevent mold growth.
Or, just use a dishwasher: If your pet water fountain is dishwasher safe, go ahead and pop it on the top shelf to get it nice and clean with minimal effort.
- Install filters with care: The insertion of filters in the correct spot and position is necessary, in order to make sure they work effectively. A filter that isn’t correctly inserted or is at an odd angle will not do its job – this means impure water for your cat, and quick build-up of grime, slime and bad odors. Make sure you consult the use manual of your cat water fountain, to ensure you’re installing the filters correctly.
- Don’t neglect the pump: The pump is the heart of the cat water fountain, so make sure its alignment is correct (otherwise the flow will be erratic/obstructed), and make sure you clean the pump at least once a month by removing any gunk from it and soaking it in a solution of vinegar and water.