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Do Cats Need Water Fountains? Vet-Approved Benefits & FAQ

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on July 3, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat drinking wataer from fountain

Do Cats Need Water Fountains? Vet-Approved Benefits & FAQ


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

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

Learn more »

All cat owners tend to want the best for their feline friends. You may have noticed that your cat is finicky about their water and may even prefer to drink from the faucet or a running source rather than a stagnant bowl. This is because cats are instinctively drawn to moving water, which they associate with freshness and cleanliness. But do they actually need water fountains? No, cats don’t need a water fountain to consume water, but having a water fountain can be appealing to cats and can bring some benefits. In this piece, we’ll explore whether water fountains are necessary for cats, and how they can benefit your cat.

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What Exactly Are Cat Water Fountains?

Water fountains for cats are devices that provide a continuous flow of water for your furry friend to drink from. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be made from different materials such as plastic, ceramic, or stainless steel. These fountains mimic the sound and movement of running water, which can be more appealing to cats than a stagnant bowl of water.

Image Credit by: Patcharida, Shutterstock

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Are Water Fountains a Necessity for Cats?

No, cats don’t necessarily need a water fountain to be able to consume water. However, water fountains can be beneficial and may provide an easy and more convenient and enjoyable way for your cat to stay hydrated every day.

Benefits of Water Fountains for Cats

There are several benefits to using a water fountain for your cat. First and foremost, they may encourage cats to drink more water, which is essential for their health. The sound and movement of running water can be more appealing to cats than a stagnant bowl of water and may encourage them to drink more frequently throughout the day. This can help prevent dehydration, and it may also play a role in urinary tract health. A 2010 study with 13 cats failed to prove that cats drinking from a water fountain had more diluted urine, which is beneficial in cats with urinary tract problems 1. On the other hand, the study suggests that water fountains provide a source of play and enjoyment for some cats, which turns into a less stressful and more active lifestyle, considered beneficial in cats’ urinary health.

Water fountains for cats also help keep the water clean and fresh. Stagnant water can become contaminated with bacteria, parasites, and other harmful substances, which can be dangerous for your cat’s health. Water fountains for cats use filters to remove impurities from the water, ensuring that your cat has access to clean, fresh water at all times.

Lastly, water fountains for cats can also be a source of entertainment and stimulation. Cats are curious creatures and may enjoy watching the water flow and playing with the stream of water. This can provide mental stimulation and prevent boredom, which is important for a cat’s overall well-being.

cat water fountain
Image Credit by: Creative Cat Studio, Shutterstock

Why Do Cats Need Water?

It may seem obvious, but cats need water every day just like us. Water is essential for all living creatures, and cats are no exception. Cats need water for every bodily function, such as to regulate their body temperature, aid digestion, and flush out toxins. They’re also prone to urinary tract problems, and having less concentrated urine can help prevent these issues. However, cats can be picky about their water, and may not drink enough if they don’t like the taste or temperature. This can lead to dehydration, which can be dangerous for cats.

Cats can be very particular about many things, including the water they drink. The right water fountain can provide your cat with clean, fresh water.

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Types of Cat Water Fountains

Cat water fountains, and pet water fountains overall actually, have become increasingly popular over the years due to the numerous benefits they offer. These fountains not only encourage your cat to drink more water but also provide plenty of fun time for them. There are different types of water fountains available on the market, each with their unique features and benefits.

1. Basic Fountain

The first type of water fountain for cats is the basic fountain. This type of fountain comes with a water reservoir and a pump that circulates the water through a filter. The water is then dispensed through a spout or a bowl. Basic fountains are affordable, easy to clean, and come in different sizes and shapes to fit your cat’s needs. More often than not, this fountain will be made mostly of plastic and will probably be the lightest and least expensive option that you can purchase. And be sure to check that it’s BPA-free.

Image Credit by: Daria Kulkova, Getty Images

2. Ceramic Fountain

Another type of water fountain for cats is the ceramic fountain. These fountains are made from high-quality ceramic material and come in different colors and designs. Ceramic fountains are super durable, easy to clean, and are suitable for cats with sensitive skin as they are less likely to cause skin irritation. The downside is that they can crack, which can create places for nasty germs to take hold.

3. Stainless Steel Fountain

The third type of fountain is the stainless-steel fountain. These fountains are made from stainless steel material and are durable and easy to clean. Stainless steel fountains are perfect for cats with allergies and are also suitable for outdoor use. The only downside to these fountains is that they can be a bit heavier and may rust at some point. However, if you find a quality one, chances are that you won’t have to worry about rust for quite some time.

Hepper Water Fountain - Himalayan Persian White

4. Smart Fountains

Of course, we can’t forget about the new smart cat water fountains. These fountains come with advanced features such as Wi-Fi connectivity, automatic water level monitoring, and filters that can be controlled using a mobile phone app. Smart water fountains are perfect for busy pet owners who want to monitor their cat’s water intake from afar and who want a more convenient and efficient way to keep their cat hydrated.

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How to Choose the Right Water Fountain for Your Cat

When choosing a water fountain for your cat, there are several factors to consider. First, you’ll want to choose a fountain that is the right size for your cat. If you have a large cat or multiple cats, you’ll want to choose a larger fountain to ensure that there is enough water for everyone.

You’ll also want to consider the material of the fountain. Plastic fountains are lightweight and affordable but may not be as durable as ceramic or stainless steel fountains. Ceramic and stainless steel fountains are more durable and easier to clean, but may be more expensive.

Finally, be sure to choose a fountain with a filter to ensure that the water stays clean and fresh. Replaceable filters are ideal, as they’re easy to replace and ensure that your cat always has access to clean water. But you may save money with a cleanable and reusable filter. And most of them are fairly easy to clean, only requiring a simple handwash with a bit of dish soap and water in the sink.

Cat drinking water fountain
Image Credit by: Vershinin89, Shutterstock

Maintaining a Water Fountain for Cats

Maintaining a water fountain for cats is relatively easy, but it’s important to keep it clean to prevent bacteria and mold from growing – something that can be harmful to your cat. You’ll want to clean the fountain at least once a week and replace the filter every 4 to 6 weeks, depending on how often your cat uses the fountain. If you see any debris, such as food particles, make sure to remove them.

It’s also a good idea to check your water bowl every few days for any brown spots or other discoloration, which may be a sign that it’s due for a cleaning. Also, if you notice any foul smells coming from the water, chances are it’s the result of a buildup of bacteria. So be sure to disassemble it and clean it out immediately – and don’t let your cat drink from it until you do.

To clean the fountain, you’ll want to disassemble it and wash the parts with soap and water. You can also use a vinegar solution to remove any buildup or stains, and you can put it in the dishwasher if it is deemed safe. Be sure to rinse the fountain thoroughly and let it dry completely before reassembling it. You can also quickly dry it with a paper towel.

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Wrapping Things Up

In conclusion, water fountains are not a necessity for cats, but they are a great investment for cat owners. They offer several benefits, including encouraging hydration, improving water quality, and providing a source of entertainment for your feline friend. When selecting a fountain, be sure to consider your cat’s needs and preferences to ensure that you choose the best type of fountain for them.

It’s also a good idea to have some budget in mind before heading out to buy your cat a new water fountain. These water fountains can cost as little as $16 or go as high as $40. Whether you opt for a basic fountain or a smart one, your cat will surely appreciate the investment.

Featured Image Credit: Daria Kulkova, Shutterstock

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