The Best Cat Water Fountains, According To Veterinarians
Drink up 💦
If you rarely catch your cat drinking from his water bowl, you might be a little concerned that he’s not drinking enough.
It’s a totally valid concern, especially since cats aren’t the best at drinking water.
To help your cat stay hydrated, many veterinarians recommend a cat water fountain. Since lots of cats are drawn to running water (like your kitchen sink!) over still water, these fountains can help encourage your cat to drink more — and stay healthy and hydrated.
But with so many on the market, it can be a bit overwhelming to choose one. So The Dodo reached out to Dr. Patricia Squillace, chief medical officer at Veterinary Care Group, and Dr. Jonathan Roberts, a veterinarian from Excited Cats, to find out what they consider to be the best cat water fountains available.
Benefits of a cat water fountain
A major benefit of a cat water fountain is that it encourages cats to drink more.
“Most cats prefer to drink running water rather than stagnant water,” Dr. Roberts told The Dodo. “This stems from their wild ancestors that were able to detect water sources with their keen sense of hearing rather than relying on their sight or smell.”
Running water also just tastes a lot fresher than water that’s been sitting in a bowl all day, Dr. Roberts said.
Cats have a very low thirst drive compared to dogs and don’t always drink as much water as they should (especially when eating dry cat food, which contains very little water). And when your cat doesn’t drink enough water, it can lead to dehydration and other health issues, like a urinary tract infection.
“The objective is for our cats to drink an appropriate amount of water in the day to prevent clinical and subclinical dehydration,” Dr. Squillace told The Dodo. “Providing cats with a fresh, moving source of water, by providing them with a water fountain, [can] aid in helping to ensure they’re obtaining their proper water intake.”
According to Dr. Roberts, if your cat’s drinking enough water, it can help with the following situations:
- Cats prone to cystitis (aka bladder infections)
- Cats who are prone to or are currently being treated for bladder or kidney stones
- Cats who suffer from chronic constipation issues
- Cats with chronic kidney disease
How to find the best water fountain for cats
Before buying a cat water fountain, you might want to consider a few things first, like how safe it is and how easy it is to clean.
“Look for fountains made of nonporous materials, like metals, glass and ceramic,” Dr. Squillace said. “Make sure ceramic has a food-safe glaze. These surfaces do not allow bacteria to harbor [in it] and cause infections, like chin acne.”
When it comes to cleaning the fountain, “it should take no longer than five minutes,” Dr. Squillace said. “If it takes longer, it’s too complicated, and you don’t want to consider that model.”
Also, think about whether your cat is seriously freaked out by strange noises. If so, you might want to consider a cat water fountain that bubbles up instead of pouring out — which is a lot quieter. Dr. Squillace also recommends a cat water fountain with a good filtration system and a filter that can be replaced.
Here are some other considerations:
- What kind of water flow does the fountain have, and can it be adjusted?
- Does your cat prefer a raised bowl?
- Is it attractive enough that you would want it in your house without needing to hide it?
- Can you keep it in an area easily accessible to your cat?
- How long will a particular fountain last, and what would the long-term costs for maintaining that fountain be (like the cost of replacing the filter)?
Vet-recommended cat water fountains
Here are the top four cat water fountain models that are recommended by veterinarians.
This fountain is made with stainless steel, which is super hygienic and dishwasher-safe. It’s also totally customizable for your cat. You can change the water flow by twisting the top, and you can also control how many spouts the water comes from (up to five) — so you can definitely find your cat’s sweet spot. The replacement charcoal filters are sold separately, and need to be replaced every two to four weeks.
This fountain is more like a gentle waterfall, which is super quiet and good for cats who don’t like loud noises. It also comes in stainless steel, which is a healthy option for your cat. This model also comes with a charcoal filter that needs to be replaced every two to four weeks.
Not only is this cat water fountain adorable, but it’s also super high-quality. It’s made with a nontoxic, pet-safe ceramic, and you can choose from four different colors. And the water bubbles up, so it’s another quiet option. Replacement charcoal filters should be installed monthly.
“Even though this fountain is made of plastic, it is my number one choice as it ticks all other boxes,” Dr. Roberts said. “It is easy to clean, it runs quietly, the filters are super simple to change and it is the best value-for-money fountain on the market.”
We tested this product with our own cats and were so impressed with how much water they drank because of it that we awarded the fountain our Paw of Approval. “Calliope is definitely more hydrated now and is drinking [healthier] amounts of water than she would before,” cat parent Natalie Torres told The Dodo.