Water Fountains For Cats

by Michael
(London, UK)

Fresh water is vital for cats and water fountains for cats are, on the face of it, an excellent way of supplying it (but see update in comments). Before I discuss them I’d like to have a look our cat’s need for water, generally. I am a concerned cat keeper. I think about my cat a lot and do my best for her but even with that level of concern I can sometimes forget to make sure my cat’s water is absolutely fresh.

We get side tracked or focused on other things and before we know it a day has passed and our cat’s water has almost run dry. One factor than can make us a bit forgetful about our cat’s water is that wet cat food is 82% water! This means sometimes cats don’t drink that much. A stray cat I feed never drinks water despite fresh water being put out for him and sometimes he eats dry food.

Of course drinking water is particularly important for cats fed dry food (cat food recipe).

As Dr. Jon of PetPlace.com says water is vital for survival and very important for our cat’s health. For example, urinary tract infections (URIs) can kick off from too dry a diet. Water helps to do the following:

  1. Digest food
  2. Absorb nutrients
  3. Flush out waste
  4. Control body temperature

Cats apparently can go for days without food but if they lose just 10% of their body’s water serious illness can follow as body functions shut down. At a 15% water loss a cat will die. PetPlace.com says the formula for knowing what a normal intake of water should be for a healthy cats is one ounce for one pound of body weight. Do cats drink enough to stay healthy and if not, is it because of something we are doing or failing to do?

We can make water as appealing as possible by:

  1. Keeping the water bowl clean. This means cleaning it daily and I change the bowl over for a fresh one every week. I also change the water daily but Dr. Jon says change it several times a day. I think that is a little over cautious, myself (but I do live in a cool climate!)
  2. One thing I do is to give my cat frozen fish that has been cooked gently in a microwave. Frozen fish contains quite a lot of water and it is fishy water so very appealing to my cat. Tap water in the UK has chlorine in it, which can make it taste less appealing.
  3. Also I occasionally give her tuna flakes from a tin (tuna in spring water) as a variant to cat food. Tuna in a can contains plenty of tuna flavored water.
  4. I don’t give my cat bottled or filtered water but this could also be a good alternative to encourage drinking.
  5. Cats naturally like running running water and I am thinking of Bengal cats or the wild cat hybrids particularly (this preference is not limited to wildcat hybrids cats though). Wild cat hybrids are more in tune with water as a source of prey having inherited this from their wild ancestor. Cats will drink from the tap (faucet in the USA) sometimes to get running water but this carries unforeseen dangers. For example, if the cat is looking up at the tap (i.e is under the tap) water can get into the cat’s lungs. This can be fatal. But there a thousands of YouTube videos of cats drinking from facets so as you can see cats love running water. Here is just one of the many amusing examples (a Sphynx cat competing with a human!):

In order to avoid the potential dangers of tap water drinking exercises, the better solution, if one has the means and inclination, is water fountains for cats. I have just this minute decided to buy one. The best known water fountain for cats is the Drinkwell, which was invented by a veterinarian, Dr. Burns (no not Dr. Drinkwell, shame that). Dr. Burns invented the Drinkwell water fountain because his cat was one of millions who liked to drink from the faucet. The doctor got tired of having to respond to his cat’s requests (see How to Speak Cat) and inadvertently leaving the water running. He invented a great product but he could have trained his cat to turn on the faucet! Or his cat could have trained him/herself, if the tap is one of those modern ones:

It is not uncommon for cats to learn to do this. They even learn to flush the toilet for that precious fresh water: Video removed..sorry

As I said, I think the more controllable but less amusing solution is the 360 Drinkwell one of the newer water fountains for cats. I am not getting commission for this. Unless someone comes to me and suggests I do. Here is the 360 Drinkwell in use:

I particularly like this model as the water does not slide down a ramp where they drink it and I think this is safer (less chance of mold etc.). Cats can’t get right under it either so it is safe from the problem mentioned above. I’m off to get one of those water fountains for cats…..

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Water Fountains For Cats

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Jan 20, 2012
Water fountains NEW
by: Anonymous

I work with an animal shelter and help out by taking old and infirm cats. At present there are 14 sharing my home.

The water fountains encourage the cats to drink. I remove the charcoal filters and empty and refill the water daily as I would with a cat water bowl.

The pumps only get noisy when the water level is allowed to get too low.

The units are taken apart and cleaned weekly.

These fountains are not intended to be a constant source of water that is never changed. If you use municipal water there is no need for the charcoal filter.

Fountains encourage the cats to drink more and would definitely recommend them.

May 17, 2009
Update to My Article
by: Anonymous

Hi, I’d just like to update this article. How did my cat take to a lovely water fountain. All that gorgeous fresh, filtered water gushing out? She ran away! When she first saw it she made a wide pass. It was something new and the pump was just bedding in and was a bit noisy.

So I showed her it again and she positively, at the moment, does not want to know about it. Definitely no interest. She prefers the same old water out of a mug! Cats are creatures of routine (so are we). And the fountain is pumping away to no avail.

One thing about this fountain that I think will be a problem in the long term is the maintenance. You need electricity (running cost), once a month at least cleaning (and this means dismantling), the pump has to be dismantled regularly (
for heavens sake who is going to do that?!) and you have the charcoal filter to renew frequently (more hassle and more expense).

So, current assessment: we are heading for a disaster on this purchase. Anyone want a second hand Drinkwell 360 please contact me: Contact me

May 12, 2009
Warning about Cat Water Fountains
by: Anonymous

I just wanted to warn you about a hidden danger of cat fountains. I bought one for my Norwegian Forest Cat and I was under the impression the carbon activated filter purified the water completely. This is not so as bacteria breeds well on the carbon filters and I was poisoning my cat as a result. I was going absolutely mad trying to figure out why my cat was getting gradually worse and worse diarrhea with vomiting. Until luckily one night I observed him drinking from it and vomiting soon after. The filter must be changed after a MAX of 1 month otherwise bacteria spores start to inhabit the filter and poison the water flowing through it. I feel so guilty I put my poor cat through the weeks of discomfort…poor thing. Now I practice very very stringent hygene when it comes to the water fountain. I believe for people who don’t know, like me, it can become a dangerous device for pets. I honestly believe it should’ve come with a health warning… Just thought you should know in case you are planning on buying one so you can avoid making the same mistake.

By the way my cat thankfully made a full recovery.

Update: Why I think it’s so dangerous is because how we are today conspires to make for a dangerous situation. We are told not to throw away stuff unnecessarily, so changing a perfectly good filter once a month because of invisible bacteria goes against your instinct. Furthermore we tend to think of carbon activated filters as these miracle things which makes even the most dirty water drinkable i.e. used in Africa where drinking water is infested with cholera. On the contrary, carbon is an organic substance and is a breeding ground for bacteria. On top of all this, as your cat gets sick from the contaminated water, he tends to drink more of it because of the dehydration from the vomiting and/or diarrhea, which compounds the problem. It was sheer luck I found out in time and avoided hefty vets bills. Still, imagine the discomfort my poor cat went through.

I was lucky my cat is young and has a strong immune system. He made a full recovery within a week. I was also lucky I was aware there was a problem (he litters indoors) and knew how to handle it (had a previous unrelated problem with his GI tract). So I would cook fish and rice for him as I had done for his previous problem, which settled his stomach/intestine.

This comment comes from a concerned member of YouTube (I am also a member of YouTube). His home page is infernogialloblu. Thank you for your useful feedback..Michael

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