I can’t tell you how many times I have found Sophia, my cat, lapping water from the kitchen faucet.
Here is why cats love water fountains:
Cats love water fountains because the water there smells fresh and clean, tastes amazing, and they love the trickling sound the water makes. Also, your cat will be able to drink more of its fill of water from a fountain compared to a bowl.
1. Fountain water smells fresh
Felines generally have a very keen sense of smell. Your cat’s sense of smell is up to 16 times stronger than yours.
Their acute sense of smell is because of the numerous odor-sensitive cells in the cat’s nose. They also have the vomeronasal organ , which allows the cat to detect smell via the roof of their mouth.
Because of their acute sense of smell, if the water is not fresh, your cat will pick up on it. Bacteria in the water can give it an offensive putrefied smell.
But water from the fountain is fresh and clean, so it doesn’t have a scent that puts the animal off.
2. Fountain water tastes clean, sweet and colder
The water from a fountain is fresh, sweet, clean, and most importantly for the cat, cold. Yes. Cats love cold water.
It is refreshing and thirst-quenching.
Your cat only drinks water when thirsty, so they find cold water tastier.
3. Cats love the sound of water trickling
Even in the wild, big cats are attracted to the sound of water trickling in a nearby stream. That is because they can detect the presence of running water faster than still water.
Also, it is inherent for cats to enjoy running water because they find the flow of the water mesmerizing. For them, it is stimulating to watch the water bubble out of the fountain continuously.
4. They can drink more
Cats hate it when their whiskers collide with the bowl as they drink water. This limits the amount of water they drink from the bowl.
However, from the fountain, they can drink more because the water doesn’t come in contact with their whiskers.
Since a cat needs between 3.5 and 4.5 ounces of water daily, you must do everything within your power to ensure that your cat drinks enough water.
This is especially critical if your cat is on a dry food diet.
That may mean getting a water fountain for kitty.
Why Your Cat Needs a Water Fountain
We know cats love the water fountain, but does your kitty need one?
Yes….yes, kittie does need one.
Here is why.
a) Cats prefer moving water to stagnant water
Cats naturally do not like stagnant water.
That is because instinctively they are wary of predators in the water.
Also, they don’t like the insipid taste of stagnant water.
Stagnant water can be a breeding ground for bacteria that gives the liquid an off-putting taste.
However, the most dangerous aspect is that the water gets the nasty bacterial biofilm. The biofilm is gluelike and slimy, and it sticks to the bowl.
It looks green, red, pink, orange, purple, black, brown and yellow. But bacterial biofilm can exist in your cat’s bowl without manifesting into these colors.
The bacteria in the biofilm can cause life-threatening conditions like cholera from vibrio cholerae , which causes extreme vomiting and diarrhea.
Salmonella can cause fatal septicemia in cats, while E.coli causes low body temperature, dehydration, and inadequate oxygen in the cat’s red blood cells.
b) Water fountains encourage cats to drink more
Cats are generally poor at drinking water. And this deficiency is exacerbated when the cat drinks from stagnant or still water.
Unfortunately, inadequate intake of water can cause dehydration in the cat.
But using a water fountain encourages the cat to drink more water. As a result, they easily meet their daily quota of needed water.
Did you know that the cat evolved from the sand to your sofa?
Research by historians has found feline domestication occurred about 10,000 years ago (or more) in the middle east.
Cats from the wild were attracted by mice in grain storage houses in Israel and surrounding countries like Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon, among others. That has led these experts to believe that cats’ genes cause them to be poor at drinking water.
Their ancestors adapted to living in an area with little to no water, so they genetically evolved to have a low thirst drive.
That allows felines to survive on less water than canines.
A water fountain is fascinating to your cat, and that makes them want to drink from it. Not to mention play with the water.
With a fountain, you will notice your cat dips its paw in the water and licks or tries to catch the water with its mouth.
Sometimes, it will lap at the stream of water. These playful activities result in the cat drinking more water than they would if they were consuming from a bowl of still water.
c) Fountains contain filters to remove bad tastes
Most fountains come with a carbon filter that helps to remove bad odor and taste in water.
The filter is typically located in the motor.
It not only removes bad taste and odor but also traps impurities and debris like hairs and dirt.
Here is a small test I took with Sophia before I got her a cat fountain:
For one week, I placed water in her bowl, as usual, every morning at 6 am. I didn’t change the water but kept monitoring it to see how clean it would remain. And also, if she would drink some.
In the morning, she took a few laps and walked away. After her treats, which I typically give at around 1400 hours, she walked back to the bowl, sniffed but turned, and stalked off.
I didn’t see her return to the bowl until after her evening meal.
She didn’t even bother to sniff this time. Instead, she just meowed mournfully when she saw it was the same water she had left behind that afternoon.
Look at your cat’s water bowl at the end of the day. I guarantee that even you wouldn’t want to take a sip of what is in there.
When I looked at the water in the bowl by evening, it had lint, a dead insect, and dust particles.
No wonder Sophia wouldn’t drink.
As I mentioned, I did this experiment for seven days. During that time, I noticed that my cat would only drink water in the morning when it was fresh.
But she also wanted water in the afternoon and evening.
I realized I was standing in the way of my cat getting hydrated.
On the seventh day, I introduced a cat fountain, and voila!
She was glued to the fountain watching water streaming out of it and dipping her paw in it.
In the morning, she took a drink (not a sip) and in the afternoon too. In the evening she wasn’t interested in the water because she had drunk enough in the day.
I mentioned it to my vet, and he explained that Sophia loved the “new” water because it tasted better and ran in a stream. The moving water doesn’t absorb the odors and smells like still water.
Water can absorb odors from the treatment plants or pipes with algae.
Qualities of an Effective Cat Water Fountain
· Ceramic and Stainless Steel fountains are best
Choose either ceramic and stainless-steel water fountains. These materials do not scratch, while plastic, on the other hand, is susceptible to scratches.
Plastics are already an excellent hiding place for bacteria and pathogens affecting cats, according to research. The scratches provide the perfect nook for bacteria to thrive, no matter how well you clean the fountain.
Also, stainless steel and ceramic do not hold on to smells and odors like plastic.
Ceramic and stainless steel also do not contain harmful materials that can contaminate the water.
Finally, ceramic and stainless steel are more durable providing longer service.
· Should have two drinking surfaces
The lower surface should be wide to accommodate the cat’s whisker as it drinks. A tight space causes the whiskers to bend during drinking, and cats hate anything that messes with their whiskers game.
The top tier of the fountain should also be easily accessible to the cat.
· A quiet pump
Cats are quite skittish, and a loud pump is a perfect excuse to keep them away from the fountain.
So, consider a unit with a quiet pump so that your cat will not be too scared to use the fountain.
The loud pump will discourage the cat from drinking which takes away from the purpose of the fountain.
· A model that can clean without being taken apart
You do not want to be saddled with a unit that has to be disassembled every time for cleaning.
Find a model that is easy to clean without taking it apart.
Also give preference to models that are dishwasher safe, or can be cleaned while the unit is in one piece.
· A cat will not appreciate a complicated design
Do not be drawn in by many buttons and multiple settings on some models. Fancier doesn’t mean better.
A simple unit may be what works for your cat.
Remember, the fountain is for your cat. And your cat is not interested in the latest turbo, remote-controlled, water spinning, cat fountain that plays soothing ocean sounds as the cat drinks.
Trust me, those things are lost on the cat.
A simple model with an on/off button, three water flow settings, and a quiet motor will do just fine.
Some units have filters that need frequent changing, which can be inconvenient to you.
· The right size for your home and number of cats
If you have a small space, consider a small unit.
But if you have multiple cats in your home, you need a bigger, more elaborate unit.
Also, consider whether the unit needs to run throughout because of the number of cats in your household. Or perhaps it can shut down automatically when not in use.
If your unit is to run all day, consider one that uses batteries instead of using electricity. In the long run, it will be cheaper for the cat to use the fountain.
Test the fountain to ascertain whether it is a good fit for your cat’s needs. For example, you can ask the salesperson to run the motor to gauge how loud it is.
Types of Cat Water Fountains
i) Ceramic fountains
These are made with ceramic as the principal material. They tend to be heavier and fancy-looking.
Ceramic fountains come in different designs, and they are sturdy, so your cat won’t be able to knock the unit over.
However, they can be expensive but are worth it because ceramic is a pure material which means the water is safe and clean, as long as you change it regularly. In addition, you don’t have to worry about corrosion.
With proper care, they are long-lasting.
ii) Stainless steel fountains
These are made with high-grade stainless steel giving them durability and the ability to absorb impact better than ceramic.
Stainless steel models are easier to disassemble compared to plastic and ceramic units.
However, stainless steel can show dirt-like smudges quickly. That can be an eyesore.
Also, stainless steel is a medium to high-end material which can drive the price of the unit up depending on the model.
iii) Plastic cat fountains
They are the cheapest models because plastic is a cheaper material for many manufacturers. Unfortunately, they also tend to harbor bacteria easily.
But a well-constructed plastic unit can also be easy to clean if you pay attention and they are easy to disassemble.
Plastic models are also lightweight making them more portable and they do not degrade quickly with time.
Training Your Cat to use a Water Fountain
It is okay if the water fountain is fascinating to your cat and they can barely contain their excitement.
Take advantage of that excitement and how your cat looks forward to drinking running water to inject some training tips.
1. Allow your cat to investigate.
I know they say curiosity killed the cat. But in this case, the cat won’t die of curiosity; it will learn how to drink water.
Your cat will move closer to explore this new feature in their space, especially if they notice there is water in the bowl.
Place some water and call out to your cat to come closer. Dip your fingers into the water and hold the wet digits to the cat’s mouth.
They will taste water and yummmmmm….soon enough, they will lap some of that water that is streaming down.
After the brief introduction, let your cat figure out that the fountain contains water and it can drink from it.
2. Let the cat get comfortable with it
Now some cats are wary of the new device. So they may not be inclined to move closer for an inspection.
Do not force the cat to drink water from the fountain. That only makes the cat afraid of you and the fountain.
Instead, place the fountain at a designated spot and call the cat to you. Do not bring the cat to the fountain. Let it makes its way over voluntarily.
Once the cat is close to the fountain, turn it on and let your kitty get used to the sound of the pump.
If the sound scares the cat, turn it off. But call to the cat again to come close to the fountain.
Even if you do not turn on the unit, the cat is learning to get comfortable with the presence of the fountain.
3. Reward the cat for using the fountain
When your cat eventually uses the fountain, give it a treat to encourage that behavior. Reward the cat for using the fountain even if it is turned off.
The point is to help the cat associate using the fountain with good behavior.
As the cat continues to get comfortable and drink from the fountain, start to reduce the rewards until they taper out completely.
After all, you will not always be rewarding your kitty for drinking water.
4. Keep fresh water in a bowl nearby
Your cat may not take to the fountain immediately. It will probably take a while to get used to hearing the fountain and using it.
But a cat has still got to drink water, so have a bowl of freshwater nearby for your cat to drink from in the meantime as it becomes comfortable with the fountain.
When you notice the cat drinking less from the bowl and more from the fountain, it is time to remove the former.
Plus, removing other water sources can cause your cat to become dehydrated because it is not drinking from the fountain.
Speaking of dehydration, read on to see how you can tell that your cat is dehydrated.
Signs of Dehydration in Your Cat
If your cat is not drinking enough, make sure you are changing their water at least once per day, twice if possible. Also you might find a water fountain helps.
Usually, when skin (yours or your cat’s skin) is healthy and well hydrated, after a pinch, it bounces back on its own resuming its normal look. That is due to skin turgor.
But when your cat is dehydrated, its skin will tent. That means that the skin doesn’t bounce back to its normal state fast enough.
Their skin tends to get back to normal slowly, and it stays up in the pinched shape for longer. That is known as skin tenting. The tent look from the pinch contributes to the name tenting.
If this happens, you need to make sure that your cat drinks more water.
Lethargy is one of the primary visible symptoms of dehydration.
The cat becomes listless. It doesn’t play, move around, and even meows unenthusiastically.
If your cat hasn’t been drinking water, keep an eye for any signs of overtiredness.
Lack of appetite:
With dehydration comes a lack of appetite. The lack of water often causes nausea, and nausea makes it harder for your cat to eat.
The good news is that you can tell if your cat is off food.
If your feline doesn’t show interest in food or eats very little, it is more likely for its health to deteriorate faster.
In this case, it is critical to see a vet immediately when your cat shows a lack of appetite.
Low blood pressure:
Dehydration reduces the fluid level in your cat’s blood vessels. As a result, the cat experiences low blood pressure.
As the blood pressure dips, the blood flow to the cat’s organs also reduces significantly. That can be fatal as the functionality of the organs is heavily impaired.
Your cat may suffer from a stroke, kidney and heart failure, among other life-threatening conditions.
If your cat is peeing constantly, it means the feline is losing more water than it is retaining.
That will eventually cause dehydration if the urination doesn’t stop.
Diseases like diabetes can cause excessive urination, leaving the cat dehydrated.
Water flushes out the cat’s bowel system. When kitty is dehydrated, it will have a hard time going to the bathroom.
The stool becomes hard, and it is unable to easily pass it out.
Constipation can also make passing waste painful. So, your cat will be afraid of the pain and passing stool.
Other reasons for a cat being dehydrated
Your cat may be dehydrated because of several diseases including:
- Kidney failure
- Shock and fever
- Excessive diarrhea and vomiting
Ensuring Your Cat is Hydrated
There are two ways to keep your cat well hydrated.
- Provide fresh water
- Feed the cat wet foods
The best way to provide fresh water to your cat is by getting a water fountain. You must mitigate any issues that may cause your cat not to drink water.
Water in a bowl can be unappealing and often becomes dirty due to exposure.
Do not give your cat a reason to refuse water intake.
Of course, most cat parents find dry cat food to be convenient.
Sophia, my cat, has always enjoyed her dry kibble. And it worked for me too, because I could put some pellets on her bowl while going out, and she would be well fed while I was away.
But the vet turned me on to a wet and dry food combo.
That means feeding your cat wet food on some days and dry food on others.
Wet food provides the water that your cat needs to stay hydrated. Canned cat foods and pates are excellent choices for wet food.
If your cat is at riks of dehydration, your vet can give them fluids subcutaneously.
Subcutaneous fluid administration is where they inject fluid into the cat’s subcutaneous tissue right under the skin.
Their body then absorbs the fluid slowly and gradually into the blood and tissues.
While it sounds drastic, it may be necessary in situations where its needed to prevent dehydration and loss of life.
But it is critical to only give the fluids prescribed by your vet. These are intravenous fluids that are sterile meaning there is no risk of bacteria, fungi, or viruses getting into the cat’s system.
If you need to do it, make sure your vet has fully instructed you on how much to give, how to administer, and the frequency of administration. You will also be supplied with the required equipment like tubing and needles for the job.
The fluid is contained in a drip bag, and a tube is used to move it from the bag into the needle inserted in the cat’s skin.
The good news is that most cats receive the fluid without much fuss.
Fountains, need care and attention, meaning you cannot afford to neglect them. Otherwise, you will find yourself in the same predicament as when you were using the bowl.
There is more to water fountains than just appealing to the perpetual kitten in your feline. This includes health benefits like
- Drinking bacteria-free water
- Drinking more water
- Access to cleaner, fresher, tastier water
Your cat will appreciate the fun water dispenser and live a healthier life because of your care and attention.
Plus, the cat water fountain is easy to clean.
Remember, a cat water fountain can add a decorative element to your cat’s space. So don’t skimp on the aesthetics of the fountain.
Writer: Mercy Nandika Amatieku