The technical term for the slime that inevitably builds up in plastic pet fountains is biofilm.
It comes from your pets’ mouth and tongue which contain bacteria that adhere to the surfaces of vessels they drink or eat from. Thorough cleaning with hot, soapy water will get rid of this biofilm at first but with use, plastic fountains become scratched – no matter how careful you are – and cleaning the bacteria from those scratches is very hard to do. Unless you use bleach or some other powerful chemical agent, regularly, the bacteria will build up, creating an unhealthy environment that can cause a number of ailments for your pet and you. Chin acne on your pet is a commonly reported consequence of this bacterial buildup. A recent study conducted by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) concluded that pet bowls are the fourth leading source for places in the home that contain the most germs. Several manufacturors include cleaning equipment but unless these are used scrupulously and assiduously, they will not be adequate.
Can slime be prevented or eliminated from plastic pet fountains?
To a degree, there are a few things you can do to eliminate and prevent the build-up of biofilm and that involves cleaning. You must regularly clean your plastic pet fountain with bleach or some similar chemical, then rinse very thoroughly. (Your cat won’t go near the fountain if it has even a touch of bleach smell to it). Unfortunately, the real and best answer is, don’t use plastic pet fountains. Yes, you paid good money for them and oh yes, your pets may love their plastic fountain but they won’t associate their pain and discomfort with their drinking source. Which is why we must. It is a simple and unavoidable truth that plastic is not the material pet’s fountains should be made of.
Below are reviews on Amazon of one of the leading brands of plastic pet fountains.
“While the unit continues to operate flawlessly, I notice the water is very slimy when I clean it. It only takes the water a couple of days to get like this. No one in the online forums seems to know how to get rid of this. I called (redacted company name) and they advised running vinegar through the fountain which I did for several hours. Tried again this week, the cat won’t go near it, and the water is slimy again. I tap out.”
“If you like cleaning slime every week this is for you.
We bought this and the cats loved it, the problem is that it builds up a bacterial slime on every part and it has to be taken apart and washed every week. This is a half hour process leaning over the tub, trying to clean the motor out with the little brushes that are sold for it. We have tried multiple times to run it through the dishwasher but it does not clean all of the scum off this as it can not go onto the hottest setting which is the only thing that would work but that would melt or cause the plastic to get brittle.
Now this sits in a corner of the bathroom, it has not been run in over 6 months and I am considering putting it out at the next yard sale!”
So all those ads you see for ‘the best cat fountain’ and ‘the best pet fountains’ which feature plastic fountains are bogus, probably funded by the manufacturers themselves. They are, in fact, the worst possible choice and people need to know this.
Then there is the environmental consideration. In addition to the air quality deterioration that results from the manufacture of plastic there is the fact that every plastic pet fountain sooner or later and often sooner ends up in a landfill. And this is so unnecessary given the availability of quality ceramic fountains which last a lifetime and, in the case of ThirstyCat fountains, in the long run are less expensive than most plastic fountains because of superior filtration.
The best choice
The number 1 choice of veterinarians for pets water bowls and fountains is ceramic with stainless steel as a second choice. The reason for this is that ceramic is not porous and it doesn’t get scratched so doesn’t provide a suitable home for bacteria. But here again it is necessary to be vigilant. Most ceramic pet fountains are made in countries which do not regulate the use of harmful minerals (lead, cadmium, etc.) in ceramics and you don’t know if those materials have been used in the ceramic pet fountains they make. Only if the maker of the fountains makes the glazes themselves and certifies that no harmful minerals are used can you be sure. Your best bet then is to buy ceramic pet fountains from reputable fountain creators in the United States who make their own glazes and know what is in them. ThirstyCat Fountains is one such company. If you’re still not convinced, please read any of many reviews which speak of the differences between our fountains and pet store brands.
FOR 10% OFF all non-sale items use the code noplastic at checkout.