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Best cat water fountains in The Lab

Testing six cat water fountains in The Lab.

Like us, sometimes our pets need a little encouragement to drink more water. While you can’t quite expect your feline to use a giant jug, there is something that can help motivate Fluffy to stay hydrated: water fountains for cats. Our team put together a list of top water fountains on the market, and veterinarian Dr. Michelle Diener helped evaluate each pick and narrow down the best options. From there, our expert team of product reviewers put each fountain to the test based on a number of factors, like the material they were made out of and how easy they were to clean. Here are the water fountains we identified as the best products out there for cats:

Cat water fountains we loved

Our top pick

When you have multiple cats or you throw dogs into the mix, you’ll probably spend a lot of time shooing one pet away so another can get a sip of water, too. The PetSafe Drinkwell Stainless Steel fountain has a wide base and multiple spouts, so more than one cat or dog can drink water at the same time.

  • Material. This durable fountain is made with stainless steel.
  • Cleaning. This fountain is dishwasher-safe, excluding the pump.
  • Assembly. We found it tricky to put together this fountain, which has several small parts and clips that are somewhat difficult to attach to the large base.
  • Noise. This fountain is noisier than the other options we tested, but it’s not too distracting.
  • Capacity. The PetSafe Drinkwell Stainless Steel Fountain holds about 3.8 liters of water.
  • Water flow. There are five flow levels on this fountain, but only some are gentle enough for cats.

What our vet thinks

Dr. Diener likes the adjustable water flow settings, multiple spouts, and stainless steel material of this pet fountain. She also likes that cats can access water from all sides of the product, and multiple pets won’t have to fight to hydrate.

Best low noise option

The Petlibro Cat Water Fountain was a hit with our two feline product testers, and pet parents will love that you can see how much water your cats are drinking because the front of the fountain is transparent. Although it arrived in a lot of plastic, the fountain is made with safe materials that are BPA-free. The best part? This fountain is incredibly quiet, so your cat can sip away even if you’re taking a work meeting in the same room.

  • Material. The fountain arrived in plastic packaging, likely to keep the product safe during transport. The water fountain itself is made from either BPA-free Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene or stainless steel.
  • Cleaning. The initial cleaning of this product took longer than assembly, but ongoing cleaning will be easy since this fountain comes apart easily and even comes with a bristle tool to clean small pieces.
  • Assembly. Assembly was fairly straightforward.
  • Noise. We couldn’t hear the fountain at all, even when we adjusted the flow setting.
  • Capacity. This fountain holds 2.1 liters of water.
  • Water flow. There are two flow settings for the water, but we thought both were similar and quite gentle.

What our vet thinks

Dr. Diener likes that this fountain offers different flow settings, multiple levels of filtration, and is a quiet option. She also likes that pet owners can choose from different colors and materials to help this device blend into your home decor. But Dr. Diener noted that this fountain does require frequent upkeep, which includes ordering and changing the replacement filters every two weeks.

Our easy-clean pick

Like unwashed pet food dishes, soiled water fountains can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. It’s important to clean your cat’s water fountain, and thankfully, we found the PetSafe Drinkwell Platinum very easy to wash. In fact, it’s dishwasher safe (on the top rack). We also like that it holds a lot of water, almost 5 liters, but we wish it were a tad bit quieter.

  • Material. This fountain is made with a hard but lightweight plastic and comes equipped with a carbon filter. 
  • Cleaning. This product is the easiest to clean of all the fountains we tested because it disassembles quickly and can be placed on the top rack of a dishwasher.
  • Assembly. We had no trouble putting this fountain together or taking it apart. 
  • Noise. The PetSafe Drinkwell Platinum isn’t as quiet as some of the other fountains we tested. The motor does make a humming noise.
  • Capacity. This fountain has quite an impressive water capacity. It holds 168 ounces, which is nearly 5 liters.
  • Water flow. The flow is adjustable, and the lowest setting is similar to that of a gentle sink faucet.

What our vet thinks

Dr. Diener approves of the carbon filter, which keeps the drinking water clean, but she noted that the filter needs to be changed every two weeks. She also likes that this cat fountain is dishwasher-safe, BPA-free, and holds a lot of water. Because the stream comes out in one direction, Dr. Diener noted that this fountain is probably best for a single pet household.

Best for small spaces

It can be tricky for apartment dwellers to find the floor space for a pet fountain, in addition to food bowls and toy baskets, but this stainless steel option from POLAME is compact enough to fit in tight spaces. We liked the multiple spouts and that it came mostly assembled — plus, it’s a quiet fountain. We just wish it were easier to tell when this fountain needs to be refilled.

  • Material. The fountain base is made from stainless steel, a longer-lasting option than plastic that’s good for cats with chin acne. The fountain spouts are made from plastic.
  • Cleaning. The plastic parts are dishwasher-safe in the top rack, and the rest is easy to handwash. That said, we did notice that water spots and fingerprints show up quite easily on the stainless steel.
  • Assembly. The fountain arrives mostly pre-assembled, making putting it together a breeze.
  • Noise. This product is very quiet, which we loved. 
  • Capacity. Because it’s a compact option, it’s no surprise that this fountain only holds about 2.1 liters of water.
  • Water flow. This fountain offers six water spouts and three flow settings, all of which seem great for cats.

What our vet thinks

There’s a lot to like about this fountain, but the brand really missed the mark on adding an indicator to notify pet owners when the water levels are low. Dr. Diener liked that this fountain has a four-stage filtration system, but because it uses two different types of filters, pet parents will be changing those carbon and foam filters frequently. That said, the stainless steel makes this option more durable than plastic alternatives.

Our ceramic pick

If you’re on a mission to cut down on plastic, the iPettie Tritone Ceramic Pet Drinking Fountain might be a good choice for your kitchen. While it’s pretty large and might not be ideal for small spaces, it does look pretty chic. It’s also easy to clean and sturdy, but pet owners will want to handle it with care, since ceramics are vulnerable to chipping.

  • Material. The fountain is made from porcelain. 
  • Cleaning. This product is pretty easy to clean and can even go in the dishwasher, but ceramic is prone to chipping, so you’ll have to be careful when you clean it. 
  • Assembly. We noted that there’s one rubber cap that’s difficult to install, but otherwise, this fountain is easy to put together. 
  • Noise. The fountain’s motor does make a faint noise.
  • Capacity. Like a couple other options on our list, this cat water fountain holds 2.1 liters of water.
  • Water flow. Unfortunately, the water flow on this fountain wasn’t adjustable. 

What our vet thinks

This is another expensive option at $80, and it requires weekly filter changes. While Dr. Diener does like the filtration system with carbon and charcoal filters and the ceramic material, she prefers other fountains on our list, especially because you can’t adjust the water flow on this one.

Our BPA-free pick

The BPA-free Veken fountain is an inexpensive pick, and we love that it features LED indicators so you know when to refill it. The flower on top, which controls the water flow, can be adjusted, and there are multiple gentle settings for our feline friends. Our tester kitties really enjoyed lapping water out of this fountain.

  • Material. This fountain is made from BPA-free plastic.
  • Cleaning. You’ll need to remove the pump on this fountain and give it a deep clean every two weeks.
  • Assembly. This fountain arrives mostly pre-assembled, and the rest is easy to handle. It also comes apart easily for regular cleaning. 
  • Noise. We found this product to be pretty quiet.
  • Capacity. The fountain holds 2.8 liters of water.
  • Water flow. The flower on top of the fountain controls the water flow, which is adjustable.

What our vet thinks

Dr. Diener loves that there’s an indicator for low water levels and that this is an inexpensive option. Despite the lower price, it offers many attractive features, like a triple filtration system, adjustable flow, and multiple spouts so that more than one pet can drink at a time.

Our research process

Why you should trust our reviews

  • Dr. Michelle Diener helped us formulate this list — Dr. Diener reviewed our list of the most popular water fountains for cats. She noted what she liked and didn’t like about each product and whether or not she’d recommend it.
  • We ordered and paid for these productsObjective reviews are important to us so we can give pet parents the best recommendations possible. None of the items on our list were gifted from brands, nor were we paid to include these items on our list. We purchased all of the products with betterpet resources.
  • We sent them off with our product researcher to test in the field — Our expert reviewer (and two kitty reviewers) tested each water fountain at home.
  • We trialed and tested these products in The Lab — Our team put our hands on each product to give accurate feedback and reviews. We assembled and tested every fountain on this list. 

How we picked

Cat testing water fountain

Our cat curiously checking out our “top pick.”

The betterpet team started by searching online for best-selling cat water fountains. Once we had a list together, we asked Dr. Diener to review it and offer her insight. From there, our product reviewer ordered the fountains and put each to the test. Both Dr. Diener and our product reviewer helped determine our “top pick,” the fountain that ranked highest in each of our testing criteria.

At first glance

First, we compared products based on many features pet owners would be looking for when shopping online, such as price, the number of filters, and how much water each fountain could hold.

Product Price* Adjustable water flow? # of filters it comes with Liquid capacity
Petlibro $29.99–$39.99 Yes 1 2.1 liters
PetSafe Drinkwell Platinum $59.99 Yes 1 5 liters
AONBOY $29.99 Yes 2 2.1 liters
PetSafe Drinkwell Stainless Steel $94.99 Yes 1 3.8 liters
iPettie $79.99 No 3 (plus an extra replacement pump) 2.1 liters
Veken $28.99–$36.99 Yes 2 2.8 liters

*price at the time of our review

How we tested these products

We worked with Dr. Diener and our expert product reviewer to determine our testing criteria for each product.

  • Material.We noted what each fountain was made of, typically plastic or stainless steel, and checked to see how sturdy or durable the materials seemed.
  • Cleaning.Pet fountains typically need regular cleaning, so we tested how easy each product was to disassemble and clean. We also noted whether or not a fountain was dishwasher-safe.
  • Assembly.We tested how easy it was to put the fountains together and how difficult they were to take apart.
  • Noise.Pet fountains have pumps to keep the water flowing. But are those pump motors noisy or does the fountain operate silently? Noise can be a deal-breaker for pets and people alike.
  • Capacity. Smaller fountains require frequent refills, while larger fountains can mean the water in the reservoir isn’t as fresh. The best choice for your household will depend on how much your pets drink.
  • Water flow.Some fountains offer adjustable flow settings, allowing you to make sure the water pressure is gentle enough for your cat.

What else should pet parents consider?

Does your cat need a water fountain?

Many indoor cats don’t drink enough water. If your cat has this problem or seems to prefer drinking from the sink instead, they might enjoy a cat water fountain. Most cats drink more water from a fountain than they would from a bowl, mostly because they enjoy the taste and freshness of moving water.

The importance of keeping your cat hydrated

It’s true that cats don’t naturally drink much water. However, hydration is critical when it comes to preventing a number of health problems in pets. Both urinary tract infections and chronic kidney disease can be the result of toxin buildup in a cat’s body. Water from a clean bowl or fountain can help cats flush unwanted toxins out of their system.

Dehydration: a common issue in cats 

While your dog might run for their water bowl with gusto, cats are prone to dehydration>. Throughout history, cats would meet their hydration needs through the prey they caught, but in your home, they get water from what you provide. It gets tricky considering cats are picky about their water preferences. No, we’re not talking sparkling or tap, but cats may prefer running water to still,  meaning that they find drinking from a stagnant water bowl unappealing. Since moving water is more enticing to thirsty kitties, a fountain can help encourage your feline to drink more water.

Health problems caused by dehydration

Hydration is essential for healthy felines. Without enough water to drink, cats face a number of health issues, some of which, like dehydration, can be fatal. Some of the most common hydration-related health issues in cats can be found below:

  • Decreased circulation. Dehydration can lead to decreased circulation and, eventually, multiple organ failure. Even if you’re able to get your cat to an emergency veterinary hospital, organ damage can be long-lasting or irreversible.
  • Inability to control body temperature. Water is essential to cats’ ability to control their core body temperature and stay healthy.
  • Cardiac arrhythmias. A cardiac arrhythmia refers to an irregular heartbeat , which can occur due to dehydration. Especially when dehydration is the cause, this condition can be life-threatening.
  • Neurologic dysfunction. Cats are smart creatures, but their brains and other organs need water. Water loss can lead to a number of different neurological disorders.

What to look for in a cat water fountain

There are a few key components you should look for in your cat’s water fountain.

Noise. Fountains with loud filters can be disturbing to both people and their pets. A loud fountain might discourage your cat from drinking water. If your cat seems particularly sensitive to noise, choose a fountain with a gentle water flow.

Filter. The filter is key to ensuring your cat has access to tasty, fresh water. Fountains with two or three filtration systems tend to have better water circulation, which helps prevent odors and remove dirt and debris. Many fountains include a carbon or charcoal filter, but you’ll have to purchase replacements.

Size. The ideal size of your fountain depends on where you want to put it, how big your cat is, and how many pets you have. Make sure the fountain you choose provides your cat with ample room to drink. Fountains with a large water capacity are best for cats that are left alone for long stretches of time.

Material. Fountains typically come in materials like stainless steel, plastic, or porcelain. While one isn’t necessarily better than the others, steel and porcelain tend to be easier to clean than plastic. Plastic fountain options tend to be more affordable, though.

👉 Look for fountains made of BPA-free plastic and materials. 

Easy to clean. It’s absolutely crucial that you frequently clean your cat’s water fountain. The material isn’t the only thing that affects the ease of the cleaning process. Pay attention to how the parts fit together and whether or not they’re easy to take apart. If you prefer to wash your fountain in a dishwasher, make sure the parts are dishwasher-safe.

Appearance. Your cat’s drinking fountain is probably in your kitchen or laundry room, so you might want to pay attention to the aesthetics of the fountain. This comes down mostly to your style, but ceramic and stainless steel fountains tend to be more aesthetically pleasing than plastic fountains.

How to clean your cat’s water fountain, in steps 

All models of drinking fountains have slightly different steps when it comes to cleaning. That said, there are a few general rules to follow.

Unplug and drain the fountain — First, you should make sure the fountain is completely drained of water. Before you begin the cleaning process, you should also unplug your fountain from the outlet.

Deconstruct the fountain — To make sure all the parts of your cat’s fountain are clean, you’ll need to take the entire fountain apart and remove the main tank and motor.

Rinse debris — Rinse all the parts of the fountain. If the parts aren’t dishwasher-safe, use natural or pet-safe dish soap to clean them. If you’re using a dishwasher, wash the parts of the fountain separately from your other dishes.

Use replacement filters — The filter of most cat water fountains needs to be changed every few weeks, so you’ll need to find and purchase those replacements to ensure you have plenty on hand.

🚨 It’s incredibly important to clean your cat’s water dispenser according to the product instructions. Any mold or slime on the pump could make your cat sick.

Water fountains versus normal bowls

You may wonder why you can’t just give your cat water in a normal bowl. While some cats enjoy drinking from a ceramic or metal dish, others prefer the taste of moving water. Because of the movement, cat water fountains also tend to keep water cleaner than normal bowls.

👉 Kitties that don’t like fountains might prefer an elevated water bowl

Hygiene

Due to the filter and motion of the water, fountains are typically more hygienic than normal bowls. When tap water sits for long periods of time in a still bowl, it can collect debris that can potentially be harmful to cats. Tap water also contains calcium and magnesium, both of which can cause health issues.

Motion

Believe it or not, cats aren’t crazy about drinking from still water sources. They find moving water, bubbles, and splashing enticing. This gives water fountains with spouts a huge advantage over normal bowls.

Frequently asked questions

Do vets recommend water fountains?

Our vets recommend cat water fountains for all cat owners. They say that fountains are proven to encourage cats to drink more, which consequently keeps cats healthy. Since filters help to keep the water clean, cats that drink from pet water fountains are also less likely to contract a water-borne illness.

How much water should my cat drink per day?

Your cat needs 3.5 to 4.5 ounces of water daily. This number varies depending on their weight, so you’ll need to ask your vet to be sure. Another tip is to try feeding your cat wet food, which contains a lot more water and moisture than dry alternatives.

Why do cats like water fountains?

Cats have a naturally low thirst drive — but they love running water. That’s because natural sources of water like streams tend to be moving or running, and a cat would usually avoid stagnant water. Therefore, drinking from water fountains feels instinctive to most cats. Your cat’s hydration is important to their long-term health. In general, you should try to pay close attention to your cat’s daily water intake.

What’s the best material for a cat drinking fountain?

Stainless steel is one of the best materials for a cat drinking fountain because it’s easier to clean and longer-lasting than plastic. Plastic is fine, too, but won’t last as long as stainless steel or ceramic.

What’s the safest cat water fountain?

When looking for a cat water fountain, you’ll want a water flow that’s gentle and not too forceful. As far as materials go, stainless steel is generally safe. BPA-free plastic is another good option, but make sure the product doesn’t have small pieces that are easy for a cat to bite or chew off.

Is it necessary to use a filter in a cat water fountain?

Water fountains will run without the filters, but you should always have a filter in them. The filters help prevent fur, food, dust, dirt, and other debris from clogging the pump and ensures that your cat has fresh, clean water.