Water is essential to life for all of us. Most mammals are made up of about 70% moisture, aka water. Cats rely on food for moisture so they are notorious for skipping the water bowl. However, a cat water fountain may entice your cat to drink more water.
Why Do You Need a Cat Fountain?
The reason that you might decide you need a cat fountain is that most cats simply don't get enough water from their diet.
Before buying a cat water fountain, consider transitioning your cat's food slowly from dry food to wet cat food. Cats rely on food for moisture and, in most cases wet cat food is going to supply more of that.
All domesticated cats can be traced back to desert-dwellers. These desert-dwelling cats also relied on food for moisture. There are no running water sources in the desert! The cat's natural prey (mice and other small critters) are all approximately 80% moisture. This trait has been carried down the line to domestic cats whose physiology has evolved to get that water from their live prey.
Dried kibble is, on average, only 10% moisture. Wet food, however, is much closer to the cat's natural prey ranging from 70-80% moisture.
Feeding dry food only can also promote weight gain and hunger. And overweight cats are at a higher risk for many health issues.
So a gradual transition to proper wet cat food will almost certainly increase your cat's intake of water, but a cat water fountain is a further great addition to ensuring your kitty gets enough water.
Having that cat drinking fountain in your home can provide enrichment and mental stimulation for your cat, but crucially it means that there is always a supply of freshly circulating water.
Quick Tips For Cat Water Fountains:
Remember, a proper diet is your first step in providing the right moisture. A cat water fountain cannot replace good-quality, appropriate nutrition.
However, a cat water fountain can be fun in many ways. It can also entice your cat to drink more.
We've included helpful tips below to make the most out of your new fountain.
How Much Water Do Cats Need?
According to Clinical Anatomy and Physiology for Veterinary Technicians, a book I read as part of my nutrition certification program, "Mammals consist of about 70% water... a loss of as little as 10% of its water can cause serious illness in most animals, and a 15% loss would be fatal without immediate treatment. The amount of water that is needed daily by an animal (in milliliters) is equal to the amount of its daily energy requirement (in Calories)."
That means, if your cat consumes 250 Calories daily, he needs 250 milliliters of water daily. 250 mL of water is equal to just over 8.4 ounces. Cats do not typically drink anywhere near this amount of water daily. Dogs are great at rehydrating themselves. But since cats instinctively rely on food for moisture, they will not rehydrate as well as dogs do.
This loss in much-needed moisture can be very dangerous for cats. Proper hydration is necessary for many bodily functions. As mentioned, a 15% loss of water could be fatal.
Additionally, water is necessary for proper digestion. So feeding dried kibble only further robs the body of much-needed moisture (water).
Since cats rely on food for moisture, they are unlikely to consume over 8 ounces of water in a day. This is why transitioning to wet or canned cat food is a great first step if your cat isn't drinking enough water. As we looked at already, wet food has a much higher moisture content than dried kibble. So wet food will help your cat get the water he needs.
Additionally, a cat water fountain can be a great supplement to a wet-food-only diet. Cats are notoriously suspicious of standing water and may not drink from a bowl. Standing water can also allow bacterial growth. A cat water fountain, however, provides constantly flowing water through a filter. Helthier and more appealing for your kitty.
Are Cat Water Fountains any Good?
Some cat water fountains are better than others. It is best to avoid plastic cat water fountains. Plastic traps bacteria, even with regular washing. Instead, choose stainless steel or ceramic water fountains because these materials will not trap bacteria as easily.
Cats enjoy (and deserve) fresh, clean water. Maybe your cat has lapped some water from your drinking glass? She is probably doing this for a reason.
Check her water bowl. When was the last time the bowl was scrubbed clean? When was the last time you replenished the water? If you notice a pink or orange biofilm on your cat's bowls, this is due to bacteria.
This may be another reason your cat refuses to drink water. Cats are very sensitive to smells and suspicious of standing water for this very reason. A cat water fountain can help solve this issue.
Cat fountains come with carbon filters and a motor pump that constantly cycles and cleans the water. If you choose the right drinking fountain and keep it clean, it can prevent bacteria buildup.
Avoid plastic and wash all of your cat's food and water bowls after each meal to prevent bacteria buildup. You will also have to clean the cat fountain, replenish water, and change the filters regularly.
Are Cat Water Fountains Safe for Cats?
Cat water fountains are safe for cats as long as you are responsible. As mentioned, avoid plastic because it traps bacteria. Put the cat water fountain on a stable surface that cannot be knocked over.
Additionally, make sure the cord is secure from biting, unplugging, and tangling. You may choose to unplug the water fountain when you are not home. Clean the cat fountain and change the filter regularly to avoid bacteria buildup.
Avoid plastic cat water fountains
That pink or orange biofilm you see in your cat's bowl is Serratia marcescens bacteria. Serratia marcescens can cause illness in cats with compromised immune systems. Plastic traps bacteria, even with regular washing. A safer water fountain is made with stainless steel or ceramic.
Safe areas for cat water fountains
Safe areas for water fountains include the floor. Most water fountains have the bowl a distance off the ground and include a filter that will keep the water clean from debris. You may also purchase a food-grade silicone mat to put under the water fountain. Many cats like to paw at and play with running water. A mat can help contain any spills.
Safety from cat water fountain cords
Be sure to wrap the cord so that fluffy cannot get tangled. Cats are attracted to strings and anything shaped like it, like cords. Teething kittens may also find relief in biting cords. All cats are extremely playful and get tangled in things easily. Be mindful of this and consider unplugging cords when you cannot supervise.
Keep your cat water fountain clean
Cat water fountain filters do not provide lifetime filtering. Just like your water filtering system, you need to change the filter regularly. You'll also need to clean out the entire fountain and replace the water frequently, especially if you are unplugging the fountain regularly.
Cats are very special creatures that come with responsibility. Clean, fresh water is necessary whether that comes from a bowl or a cat water fountain.
What is the Best Cat Water Fountain for Cats?
The best cat water fountain for cats is generally one that is made with stainless steel or ceramic. If you have multiple cats, a larger water fountain might be necessary. Cats like to paw at the water and some like to play in it. A large cat water fountain may keep them entertained and prevent fighting.
If you do choose a plastic water fountain the key thing is to make sure that it is easy to clean and keep clean.
Here are a couple of our best cat water fountains picks.
ORSDA Cat Water Fountain Stainless Steel
This could easily be our best cat water fountain for single cats. It is made from stainless steel, and it includes a silicone mat to place under it. It holds up to 67 ounces of water and comes with carbon filters that remove hair and dirt from the water.
This stainless steel water fountain is BPA-free, dishwasher safe, and comes with cleaning tools making it very easy to keep clean. It also comes with 6 replacement filters.
PetSafe Drinkwell Stainless Steel
This would be our best cat water fountain if you have multiple cats. It stands 9 inches high and holds 128 ounces of water. There are 5 spouts included to change the flow of water and offer 360-degree water flow. Many cats like the high-standing free-flow stream of water from this cat water fountain. This cat water fountain is also dishwasher safe and comes with cleaning tools.
How Often Do You Change the Water in a Cat Water Fountain?
You should change the water in the cat water fountain as often as you need. Even though there is a filter, you should change the water every few days. This will help keep the filter cleaner and the pump functioning normally.
Some cats may drink more water than others. And it's best to keep the cat fountain full so the pump functions properly. Some cats may also play in the water. As mentioned, cats are suspicious of unclean water so it is better to replace the water more often to keep the water fresh.
Maintaining the proper amount of water in the cat water fountain is important for its function and to keep your cat interested in the drinking from the fountain. If you do not provide enough water in the fountain, the motor pump may stop working.
If you don't keep the water clean, your cat will not use the cat water fountain. We want our cats to be happy and accepting of their water source. Cats prefer and deserve clean water. When in doubt, just change it out.
How Often Should You Clean the Cat Water Fountain?
The filter and motor pump will help circulate and clean the water. But you should still clean the entire fountain frequently. You should clean your cat's water fountain at least weekly. Cleaning regularly will prevent slimy bacteria buildup.
Even if you have opted for a stainless steel or ceramic cat fountain, you will need to clean all of it regularly. When cats sip or play in the cat water fountain, saliva and debris will ultimately land in the bowl. The filter and pump will do the job of circulating the water. But regular cleaning will help it function properly. This will help prolong the life of your cat's water fountain.
Regular cleaning will also keep the cat water fountain itself clean and free from debris. Cats need clean water and clean supplies. Cleaning the fountain and getting into any crevioces and hidden parts and then refreshing the water weekly can help prevent bacteria buildup, and that's what's best for our cats.
If you notice any slime or low water, change the water and clean the fountain more frequently. Every situation and every cat is different. Pay attention to how much your cat drinks from the fountain or if your cat plays in the cat water fountain and adjust cleaning times as needed.
How Do I Get My Cat to Drink From a Cat Water Fountain?
Cats are sensitive to change and suspicious of new things. They may also get stressed easily with sudden changes. Leave the cat water fountain out unplugged and without water for your cat to sniff. After some time, you may fill the fountain and put it next to your cat's usual drinking spot. This will help your cat get adjusted to the fountain and associate it with water drinking.
If you notice that your cat is drinking from the water fountain, you may move her usual drinking bowl to another area. We do not want to remove additional drinking areas altogether. But instead, redirect it elsewhere when your cat is adjusted to the water fountain.
Extra water areas are always beneficial as long as you keep them clean. Cats are clean creatures and picky about water sources. Providing extra water sources can help ensure your cat consumes enough water daily.
Final Thoughts on Cat Water Fountains
Cats rely on food for proper moisture (water) intake. So we cannot rely on cat water fountains alone for our cats to consume enough water daily. First, consider transitioning to a more appropriate wet food diet. This will help ensure your cat is getting enough moisture.
Cat water fountains can be a great addition to your cat's environment. Cats enjoy pawing at water and drinking from free-flowing water spouts. It's important, however, to choose materials that do not promote bacteria growth. Stainless steel and ceramic are much more sanitary than plastic.
The ORSDA cat water fountain might be a great first choice to get your cat used to water fountains and it's our top pick.
Remember to clean the entire fountain, replace water, and change the filter regularly. Keeping up with cleaning and maintenance is important for proper functioning and to keep your cat happy. Cats prefer and deserve clean water. You may find that you have to clean your water fountain and change the filter more often if your cat plays in it.
Safety is another important priority. Keep your cat's water fountain on a stable surface and make sure the cords won’t tangle your cat.
Many cats love free-flowing water. A cat water fountain can entice your cat to drink more water as long as you keep it clean.
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