Should I Get My Cat a Water Fountain?

It's a question as old as time: should I get one of those automatic water fountain things for my cat? Water fountains can come with a lot of benefits, convenience being a major one, but not everyone finds that they work much better than a good old fashioned bowl. When considering such a purchase, you can ask yourself if it would make your life more manageable, if it would be better for your cat, and if you're willing to maintain it to help you reach a decision.

Thirsty ginger cat looking curious to a pet drinking fountain. Side view with copy space.
credit: Lightspruch/iStock/GettyImages

What is a water fountain and how does it work?

A cat water fountain is a device that makes watering your cat convenient and generally hassle-free. Running on electricity, a water fountain for cats requires that you fill the fountain with water anywhere from every few days to every couple of weeks, and it uses that water to automatically fill your cat's water bowl via a pump. Many people find that using a fountain takes some of the trouble out of constantly refilling a pet's water bowl, while others feel that the maintenance, like replacing filters and using energy, is simply not worth the trouble.

Benefits for you

Water fountains for pets come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are made from all kinds of different materials, but the one thing they all seem to offer is convenience. Unless you have a multiple-cat home, your cat's food and water dishes are likely fairly small, and probably need refilling about once a day. Depending on which type of fountain you choose, you may be able to limit bending over to refill your cat's water container to every couple of weeks, which can certainly be of value if you have trouble physically crouching, bending, or lifting.

Cat drinking water
credit: Dulani Yapa/iStock/GettyImages

Because most fountains hold a good amount of water in their built-in reservoir, your cat will be less likely to run out of water, assuming you refill it as needed. This can be especially helpful for anyone who works long hours or just tends to be out of the house a lot, as filling a bowl every day is no longer something you'll have to worry about. Going out of town is also made much easier with a water fountain, as makes for a sure way to keep your cat hydrated with fresh water.

Benefits for your cat

We know how having a water fountain for your cat benefits you, but what about the felines? Is a fountain something they prefer or even appreciate? As it turns out, many cats are naturally drawn to the sound and feel of ever-flowing water and do appreciate what these contraptions have to offer for a number of possible reasons. According to Vetstreet, many cats are attracted to running water as their instincts tell them that it's safer, meaning, there's less chance that bacterial has built up within it, as there might be with stagnant water that sits in a bowl. This is why you might catch your cat stealing a lick from a running faucet, or exploring your bathtub after a shower.

Keeping a full dish of clean water can also provide much-needed health benefits for felines, especially ones that are prone to urinary tract issues, like UTIs or bladder stones. The American Veterinary Medical Association lists keeping fresh, clean water available for your feline friend to drink at all times among the top things you can do to prevent feline lower urinary tract disease, which can affect the bladders and urethras of cats.

A black cat drinking water from the tap
credit: Ángel Lozano Cortell/iStock/GettyImages

Is it worth it?

While providing food, water, and shelter are considered to be the basic needs of a pet we as pet owners are responsible for meeting, the choice to add a water fountain will be up to the individual. When considering your options, it's recommended that you consider whether adding a fountain to your home will make your life, and the care of your pet, more or less manageable. If you notice that your cat is drawn to moving water, or especially if your feline refuses to drink out of a bowl of still water, you may want to strongly consider a fountain as a possibility in an effort to make your cat's health a priority.