How do you define ‘quiet’ as in a “quiet cat fountain”?

Certainly you mean no pump noise. We consider pump noise to be completely unacceptable. There are though, a lot of commercial brands of cat fountains and pet fountains in which the pump is quite loud, as so many of the reviews state. To know which, simply read the 3 and 2 star reviews of various brands on Amazon to learn which cat fountains are most likely to irritate you with their unpleasant noises.

(Owner and founder of Thirstycats has what is called Misophonia – a condition of finding it difficult to tolerate any arbitrary noises – however slight – which is one reason why we are scrupulous about having quiet pumps. (He loves water sounds, however.) So what about water sounds?

There are four elements that determine
how much water sounds a cat fountain makes

How much water is falling, how far it is falling, what it is falling onto or into, and the quality of the stream itself – whether it is smooth, turbulent, thick or thin. Generally, the more water and the further it is falling the greater the water sounds. A thin stream makes more of a trickling sound, a wider stream more of a pouring and an agitated or turbulent stream makes a more variable sound and is louder than a smooth stream which creates a softer, steady tone.

The fountains above are all quiet cat fountains. In fact, all but the third are silent fountains though all but the fourth can be made to produce water sounds by raising the pump flow. As mentioned, no ThirstyCat fountain has pump noise.

In the tall bubble-up (fourth from left) the water doesn’t actually fall at all, rather it slides over the edge and into the bowl. There is no stream and it is silent. The simple bubble-up to the left on a low setting is also silent. On a higher setting you can achieve gentle brook-like sounds. Similarly with the Serenity second from left. We named it Serenity because it creates such a smooth, quiet stream. Turn it up and you will have pleasant water sounds. The Serentiy Flow can be added to any bubble-up and can be swapped in and out for variety with the straight, also antimicrobial, copper spout which comes with every bubble-up.  With the Serenity you can still have a quiet cat fountain and a stream. The fountain on the far right has what we call a Downflow cat tap, which simulates a faucet. This creates a long-falling stream and it too is silent. We create them for a particular fountain and insure that the stream falls on the center piece. If you want slight water sounds we can create the Downflow so it falls in the water but even then the sounds will be slight.

ThirstyCats creates (all by hand) cat water fountains with from one to five streams. Generally the more streams the louder the water sounds but there are caveats to this.  A somewhat turbulent stream, which we sometimes do create, will be louder than a smooth stream. All fountains can be adjusted by a lever on the pump which simply lets in more or less water.

Here is a page with videos of many of ThirstyCat Fountain designs, demonstrating the sounds they make.