How to Choose a Cat Water Fountain

Water fountains are a popular option for cat owners these days and come recommended by lots of vets.

For those of you not in the know, cat water fountains offer fresh running water by way of a pump or filter.

But as is the case with a lot of pet accessories, the market for these things has become kind of flooded, if you’ll excuse the expression.

Happily though, we’ve put together this guide to help you make an informed purchase. So why choose to buy a cat water fountain in the first place?

Why Choose a Cat Water Fountain?

As well as being picky eaters, cats are kind of fussy when it comes to drinking water.

Feeding bowl placement for cats can be a major issue, given that felines keep water and food sources separate in the wild.

It’s also the case that some felines don’t like standing water, preferring instead to drink from flowing sources.

Cat Drinking Flowing Water

We should point out that there’s no clear evidence that cat water fountains are generally preferred by cats, despite what you may read online.

And there’s isn’t any evidence that they offer substantial health benefits in comparison to regularly cleaned and replenished water bowls.

But they certainly offer a convenient and hygienic means of providing fresh, clean water for your cat.

For an animal that can have issues with dehydration, this is really important.

What Features to Look for in a Cat Water Fountain

A quality cat water fountain will be easy to clean, durable and able to provide a consistent source of clean, fresh water.

With the above in mind, some of the most important features to therefore look out for include:

  • materials used
  • fountain capacity
  • shut-off functionality
  • filter indicator

There’s a number of additional features you’ll really need to take into account as well. Here’s a run-down.

Noise Level

Because cat water fountains use pumps to circulate the water, noise can be an issue, especially with cheaper models.

Thus, it makes sense to buy one with a quiet pump so that you’re able to retain your sanity.

Indeed, low noise levels are major selling points for mid to high-range models, so finding a quiet one isn’t going to be an issue.

As a general rule of thumb, look for a model with a noise level of no more than 40 decibels.

Ease of Cleaning

Ease of cleaning is a big deal when it comes to cat water fountains.

Irregular cleaning will result in a build-up of bacteria which is not going to be good for your cat.

The material used in a fountain’s construction is particularly important here.

While you might assume that plastic is easy to clean, the surface is actually rough and porous. So thorough cleaning can be a bit challenging.

Being non-porous, ceramic is easier to clean as is stainless steel which is, in our opinion, the best material for feline water fountains.

Also look out for cat water fountains with parts that are dishwasher friendly!

Some models have self-cleaning mechanisms (see below).


Capacity is another thing to look out for, especially if you own multiple cats. The more capacity a cat water fountain has, the better your cat’s supply of drinking water and the fewer refills required.

Unfortunately, a lot of the cheaper fountains don’t hold that much water. So avoid!


Again, plastic isn’t a great option in terms of durability. It can be scratched and cracked very easily. Ceramic is a better option that’s more resistant to scratches.

Stainless steel water fountains are by the far the best option in terms of longevity, though.


So what material is best for a cat water fountain? Stainless steel and ceramic are highly recommended.

These materials are easier to clean than plastic fountains and tend to be far more durable. You’ll get far more value for your money while ensuring that your cat has a cleaner, more hygienic water source.

Automatic Shut-Off

When a fountain runs dry, a lot of models continue running which may cause the motor to burn out.

Helpfully, some versions include an automatic shut-off mechanism when the water runs low. This is definitely a feature to look out for.

Filter Indicator

Filters help clean the water fresh and clean. They don’t last forever though and will need to be replaced quite regularly.

The frequency depends on the individual model. But it can be very easy to forget, considering that certain fountains don’t require their filters to be replaced for up to three months.

This is why some include an LED light that tells you when it’s time for a filter change – a big help in our view.

Stainless Steel Water Fountain

Model Types

Now for the types of models you’ll come across online and in your local pet store.

Plastic Fountains

Plastic fountains are usually cheaper than ceramic or stainless steel models making them an attractive option for lots of owners.

Unfortunately, longevity is a problem with these versions given that plastic is easily scratched.

These scratches can become havens for bacteria. They’re not always dishwasher resistant either.

What’s more, plastic fountains are often lightweight, making them vulnerable to damage.

This is especially so in a busy or multi-cat household where the fountain can get kicked or moved around.

Price Range – $15 – $90

Ceramic Fountains

Ceramic cat water fountains represent a better option for owners. As already mentioned, they’re easy to clean, resistant to scratching and safe for the dishwasher.

Ceramics do of course break from time to time. To guard against this, invest in one that’s properly glazed.

There’s also a very slight risk of lead poisoning so be sure to source one from a reputable outlet; online stores such as Chewy include lead-free models.

Price Range – $30 – $300

Stainless Steel Fountains

Stainless steel cat water fountains come highly recommended by experts.

Easy to clean and more hygienic than ceramic or plastic, stainless steel variants are also aesthetically pleasing.

In addition, they’re resistant to corrosion and damage, as well as being dishwasher friendly.

Price Range – $40 – $450

Wireless Battery Operated Fountains

Placement can be an issue for standard water fountains, due to the cable. A cordless cat water fountain does away with this problem by allowing you to place it anywhere.

Even though recharging is required, these types of wireless cat fountains tend to be powered by high capacity batteries that can operate for up to 30 days without recharging.

Price Range – $40 – $70

Motion-Sensor Fountains

Motion sensor cat water fountains are a useful way of conserving energy and keeping your water bills down.

As the name indicates, a sensor detects your cat when he’s near the fountain which then activates the water supply. Once he leaves the vicinity, the water stops.

A lot of these versions allow you to set a constant flow of water or activate a feeding timer.

But despite the technology involved, motion sensor cat fountains aren’t all that expensive. You can pick one up for as little as $40.

Price Range – $40 – $380

Our Recommendation

As far as we’re concerned, stainless steel cat water fountains are the way to go.

As well as ease of cleaning and durability, they represent the best value for money: stainless steel fountains aren’t all that more expensive than the dreaded plastic versions

In terms of additional features, noise-level is one of the most important considerations. We also recommend a fountain that automatic shut-off functionality and a filter indicator.

Top Cat Water Fountain Brands

  • Aonboy
  • Catit
  • PetKit
  • Petlibro
  • Petsafe
  • Pioneer Pet
  • Smartcat
  • Wopet
  • Zeus

Places to Buy Cat Water Fountains

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