What Does a Cat Fountain Need to Have to Ensure the Long-Term health and Happiness of Your Cat and the Pleasure and Enjoyment of Yourself?
Ask yourself these six questions before purchasing a cat fountain:
- Is it safe?
- Is it attractive to the cats? Will they want to drink from it?
- Does it clean easily and stay clean a reasonable period of time?
- Does it have good, long-lasting filtration?
- Is it suitable for your home?
- What is the cost?
We address each of this issues here.
The first consideration is, what is the fountain made of? Ceramic, metal and glass are non-porous, meaning they do not absorb moisture and grow bacteria within them. They also do not scratch easily. Both these attributes contributes to them not harboring harmful bacteria which can cause chin acne. Plastic is porous and is easily scratched and in those scratches bacteria grow, thus requiring considerable scrubbing and the use of such agents as bleach to keep them safe. If the fountain is ceramic you want to ensure that only food-safe glazes are used. To know this the ceramicists would need to make the glazes themselves. Some sources will state that they do and their glazes are safe. If they do not state that then they likely don’t make their own glazes so don’t know what is in them or the fountains are made in China and the glazes are very possibly not safe.
The next important consideration; is it easy to clean and does it stay clean for a reasonable period of time? If the fountain has a lot of corners, nooks and crevices it will definitely not be easy to clean and if a fountain is difficult to clean, it won’t get cleaned often or thoroughly enough, which is harmful for the cats. Ideally a fountain should take no more than a few minutes and should remain clean for close to a week. Cat fountains vary greatly in this aspect. Generally, the more complicated, the harder the fountain is to clean. The pumps for cat fountains, however, are all pretty much the same and require the same cleaning, though how often will depend largely on the type and quality of filtration the fountain has. If the fountain you are considering requires either of these tools or something similar, think twice before purchasing.
There are two possible types of filtration; mechanical filtration which prevents cat hair and other debris from getting into the pump, and chemical filtration which removes unpleasant odor and taste-causing elements such as chlorine from the water. Every fountain needs the first, not every fountain needs the second. Shown below are two kinds of mechanical filtration and the one on the right also contains a small amount of activated charcoal for chemical filtration. The one on the left will last for two years. The one on the right lasts from two to four weeks, which is standard for most if not all commercial pet fountains. The company which offers the sponge filter on the left also offers an activated charcoal filter at about $10 for those who need one, and which lasts six months or more.
The next consideration, is it attractive to the cats and will they want to drink from it, is important but hard to know until you’ve made the purchase and set up the fountain. The best fountain on the planet is worthless if your cats don’t take to it. See if the maker has different designs offering different kinds of drinking experiences. Perhaps one will be more suitable than another for your cats. The best you can do here is to read the reviews of people who have the fountains and glean from their experiences. Some cats will drink from any fountain and some are really picky.
The next consideration has to do with aesthetics – or the lack thereof. If you plan to have the fountain in some out-of-the-way place then aesthetics may not matter so much. Please note that if you plan to place your cat fountain in the kitchen, it is best to place it away from, not near, the food bowls. This is written about extensively by veterinarians and other experts who say that water near the food can put the cats off drinking. In the wild, cats do not find nor keep their food near their water source as the decaying food could contaminate the water. Though this is unlikely to happen in our kitchens, it is still a hard-wired directive in our cats and they are likely do drink more (a very good thing) if the water is well separated from their food.
So if you plan to place the cat fountain where it is easily seen and becomes a part of your decor then aesthetics matters considerably. In this respect there is a wide range of looks from the many different brands of cat fountains, some of the more notable ones shown below.
Another aspect of aesthetics is the sounds a fountain creates. No cat fountain should have unpleasant sounds such as pump noises so be sure this is not a complaint among reviewers. Water sounds is another matter. Some cats, and people, like and want water sounds, others do not. Try to be sure that the fountains you are considering have water sounds (or don’t) which you like or which can be adjusted.
Finally, we have cost and this is not as straightforward as it may seem. The initial cost of the fountain is not necessarily the real, or long-term cost. If you have to frequently purchase parts which wear, or filtration units which for many brands only last a few weeks, then the real cost is the purchase price plus the additional spend over the months and years.
There is also longevity of the fountain itself. Some last, some do not. Again, customer reviews can help with this. Ceramic and stainless steel are much more durable than plastic. Also, some fountains are complex with numerous parts, others are quite simple with not a lot to go wrong.
We suggest that you watch videos of the different brands on Youtube, read customer reviews where you can find them and learn how the different brands you are considering are made. Armed with the right information you will be in a position to choose the cat water fountain best for your cats and your household.