Are Cat Fountains Worth It?

Cats need to stay hydrated to avoid serious health problems, but they don’t make it easy.

Our furry friends have low thirst drives given their long evolutionary history of obtaining much of their fluids from meat. They just don’t feel the need to slurp down water the way other animals do.

When cats live in human homes, keeping them hydrated can be even more difficult because they’re mischievous little stinkers.

Buddy’s no exception. The little dude loved to knock his water bowl over and paw at the water, so I replaced his bowl with a wide-bottom stainless-steel one that is virtually impossible for him to upend.

Then I noticed his water was sometimes dirty, or I’d find things in his bowl: hair ties, toys, the little plastic rings from drink bottles, twist ties and other things he likes to play with.

Bud was taking random things from around the house and depositing them in his water bowl, which is probably just another fun game for him. (Some theories suggest this behavior is instinctual as well, that cats are “washing the scent off” toys representing prey or simply hiding it as they would a kill.)

“Cats often put their toys away in a ‘safe’ place after playing with them, and cats look upon their food area as a secure part of their territory,” says a Q&A from Chewy. “This behavior is similar to cats in the wild who often take their prey back to their nest area to hide it from potential predators. Your cat simply might be storing his toy in a secure area to be played with later.”

As far as Buddy’s concerned, the entire apartment is his territory, but he’s especially protective of his little dining nook.

I can imagine the dialogue in Buddy’s head: “Hmmm, bottle cap. Where did I put my favorite bottle cap? Oh, right. My water bowl!”

Little dude gets two fresh wet meals per day, and at night I put out about half a bowl of good dry food as a late-night snack and something to tide him over till morning if he gets peckish overnight. (It usually prevents him from waking me up strictly for food, but he still finds his reasons to interrupt my sleep.)

I put fresh water out for him twice a day at set times, and sometimes randomly if I notice the water’s low, dirty or there’s a toy in it.

Between the wet food and the bowl he probably gets just about enough fluids, but I think we can do better, for his health first and foremost — since so many serious cat ailments, especially in males, are linked to dehydration — and to avoid costly and traumatic veterinary procedures.

Can anyone recommend some good fountains?

I’d like something non-electric, but a cat fountain that uses gravity to release stagnant water kind of seems like it defeats the purpose. I’ve also read that plastics are bad, as dirt and dust can get embedded in the surface. Finally, articles about pet fountains often suggest flat drinking surfaces are best to encourage cats to drink, as their whiskers don’t get caught or wet. I’m not sure how much difference that makes, and it’s probably different for each cat.

Do you have a fountain for your cats? What are your thoughts on how effective it is at getting them to drink more?

8 thoughts on “Are Cat Fountains Worth It?”

  1. Great topic! One of my cats eats only dry food and I’m concerned about his water intake. The fountain from a local big box store is so
    badly designed the cats could hardly use it. Looking forward to suggestions!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve also read it helps some cats if the water source is located away from their food. The theory is that in their ancestry, they would’ve stored their kills away from the community watering hole. I don’t know about that. What I do know is it works for my kitties.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That might be good for me because I don’t have an outlet where Bud’s food area is. An electric fountain would have to be in a different place.

      How far away did you place yours?


  3. I currently have seven(7) little furbanaceous critters that share my home, and I try to be diligent about providing ample, good quality water supplies for them, as they typically won’t drink enough to keep themselves hydrated. And, like humans, the problem seems to get worse as they age! I have two indoor fountains placed in the rooms they hang out the most, and since my critters are indoor/outdoor, I also have one clean water source outside in the back yard

    The two indoor fountains are actual fountain types, as the kitties definitely prefer running water. I chose the “Catit” brand because it has a good filtering system with affordable replacement filters, it is quiet, reliable, holds enough water to last 3-5 days, is easy to clean, and it is not terribly expensive. My units cost roughly $28 & $34 for the models I purchased through Amazon, which was considerably cheaper than the local pet markets. The dispensing ring just below the fountain outlet has several spoon-shaped depressions which the cats can easily drink from, and one of the models I use has a built in ‘night light’ that glows blue to help them locate it at night. It’s a bit too much light for me to tolerate in my bedroom though, so I have one ‘unlit’ unit for that location. The outdoor water source is a very old chiseled limestone rock ‘trough’ in the back yard that holds about 3 gallons of water. I rinse & refill it daily, and the cats love having a cool,clean source of water while lounging outside. BTW, I also use Kangen water for the indoor fountains, which is filtered and alkalized to a pH of 9.5, and is approved by my veterinarian. The furballs and I have all been drinking it for over 6 years now, and their intake of water improved significantly after I purchased the Kangen machine, so I would also recommend that if one is so inclined to make sure their water is as healthy as possible.

    As part of an overall hydration plan, I feed my furballs wet food twice daily in measured amounts for each cat. I also add a small amount of water (about 1TBSP) to each bowl for the seven cats to aid in hydration, and then microwave their meals enough to warm them up, (yeah, they’re spoiled!) but it does result in them eating it better. (Try eating your roast beef & mashed potatoes cold sometime, and see if they don’t taste better warmed up!) I leave dry (grain-free) food out in larger bowls in a couple of places to supplement the menu for those who want extra food during the day or night. I mention this because, IMHO, having the right balance in wet & dry food is an important part of hydration, and that extra bit of water in their wet food almost always gets eaten, which makes a difference as well!

    I hope this info from my experiences helps! I’m a BIG believer in preventative measures to keep my furballs healthy… healthy dietary & hydration habits are a LOT cheaper and less troublesome for all than having sick, unhappy kitties & big vet bills! Salutations to the fuzzy Buddy!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for the great comment, Bill. I found it helpful and I’m sure others will too. Adding a small amount of water to the wet food is a good idea as well. I used to do that regularly and I don’t know why I stopped.

      I found this after writing my post, and the Catit gets high marks here. It also says the flower can be swapped out for a flat top:


  4. I don’t have a fountain for the cats and have never used one, but like you did, I change the water in the bowls twice daily. There are water bowls in every room of the house, necessary in a multi-cat household. Some of the cats drink more water than others (especially the older ones), but I do see them all drink. Some people I know put water in the wet food and make a slurry.

    Liked by 1 person

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