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Updated July 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
PetSafe Drinkwell Butterfly Pet Drinking Fountain for Cats and Dogs
PetSafe Drinkwell
Butterfly Pet Drinking Fountain for Cats and Dogs
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Most Comprehensive
Bottom Line

Good looks, large design, and quiet operation earn this cat fountain our top spot.

Pros

Boasts an attractive ceramic design that looks great in any room. Large capacity makes it suitable for multiple cats and dogs. Motor and pump operate quietly. Carbon filter keeps water fresh-tasting and is replaceable. Design is very enticing to most cats.

Cons

Pricey. Rare reports of defective fountains, but many more happy customers.

Best Bang for the Buck
Parner Ultra-Quiet Pet Water Fountain
Veken
Ultra-Quiet Pet Water Fountain
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Affordable & Attractive
Bottom Line

A quiet fountain with excellent filtration and fun design.

Pros

Offers a filtration system that includes activated carbon and ion resin that remove odors, bad flavors, and pet hairs. Includes 3 replacement filters. Large capacity with 3 flow patterns and quiet operation. Includes a silicone mat. Adorable flower design.

Cons

Motors that quit working properly after a few months of use have been reported.

iPettie Tritone Ceramic Pet Drinking Fountain
iPettie
Tritone Ceramic Pet Drinking Fountain
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Most Stylish
Bottom Line

A lovely design that looks classy in your space.

Pros

This fountain is made of high-quality natural ceramic that’s sustainable and easy to clean. A dual mechanical filtration system prevents pet hair from clogging the pump and tank. Quiet operation and a large capacity.

Cons

The ceramic could chip or crack if not handled carefully.

ORSDA Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain
ORSDA
Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain
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Durable & Rugged
Bottom Line

Simple-to-use and very solid product.

Pros

A straightforward fountain made of durable stainless steel. Large water tank provides a constant supply of clean and filtered water without the need for frequent refills. Scratch-resistant stainless steel is easy to clean. Won't tip over or spill thanks to a locking-lid design.

Cons

There are prettier alternatives than this model.

PETLIBRO Cat Water Fountain
PETLIBRO
Cat Water Fountain
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Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

Minimal design that looks great and gets the job done.

Pros

Features a circulation system to keep fresh, oxygenated water available at all times. Monitor remaining water levels with the convenient level meter. Fountain includes its own high-performance water filter with LED alert when it needs changing. Quiet and easy to clean.

Cons

Some reports of longevity concerns.

HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Models
Considered
60
Consumers
Consulted
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Researched
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Buying guide for Best cat fountains

More than one out of every four households in the United States is home to at least one cat, and it’s likely that many of those homes have two felines. Cats are the second most popular pet after dogs: there are more than 58 million in the US. That’s a whole lot of hairballs. A cat fountain is a great way to make sure your cat stays healthy by drinking enough water.

While the average feline spends a great deal of time sleeping, grooming, purring, and chasing toy mice, one thing the typical cat doesn’t do a lot of is visit its water bowl. For a variety of reasons, many cats are hesitant to drink water from a bowl, which can lead to health issues, particularly kidney disease. A cat fountain can encourage even the most finicky feline to drink more water because moving water is far more appealing to cats than still water in a bowl. 

Since there are many different types of cat fountains available, you need to consider design, material, filter, price, and other factors to find the best one for your favorite tabby.

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The sound and sight of moving water encourages cats to drink more deeply and more often.

Key considerations

Why buy a cat fountain?

Compared to dogs and people, cats don’t have as much of a drive to drink water. Many cats aren’t interested in water that isn’t moving, such as the water in a bowl. The reason for that isn’t entirely clear, and there might be more than one, but the likeliest explanation is that cats evolved to gain most of their water requirements from the food they eat rather than from a water source. However, because many companion cats eat a regular diet of dry kibble, they have less chance of meeting their water needs from food alone than cats that eat wet food from a can or fresh or frozen meals.

Mild dehydration can be a problem for cats that shun their water bowl, although severe dehydration is usually due to fluid loss from vomiting or diarrhea and not from dietary habits, according to Fetch by WebMD. Still, even mild dehydration can cause a sluggish digestive system, reduce the effectiveness of urinary system function, and make the heart work harder to circulate blood.

Cat fountains, thanks to their constantly circulating water, tend to attract cats far more than still water. You may have noticed how powerfully your own cat is attracted to a slow drip or trickle of water from the faucet in the sink or bathtub. The sound of moving water, along with the gentle rippling motion, encourages even senior cats to indulge in a good, long drink, thus helping them stay healthier.

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Staff Tip
Set your cat fountain on a plastic mat to catch any drips or spills.
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Cat fountain features

There are lots of fountains out there for pets, but here are the most important factors to consider when choosing the right model for the needs of both you and your cat.

Design

There are three basic designs of cat fountains: free-fall, slide, and bubbler.

Free-fall fountains are the most popular type and are enjoyed by just about every cat. These fountains deliver a thin stream of water that falls from the spout into the reservoir. Picture water flowing out of your bathroom sink into the basin — and how enticing that sound is to the average feline — and you’ll get the idea. 

On the downside, if you aren’t as thrilled by the constant sound of running water as your cat is, you could find this style of fountain annoying.

Slide fountains are designed like a waterslide: the water comes out of a spout, but instead of falling to the reservoir it flows down a “slide” into the bowl. As a result, these fountains are quieter than free-fall fountains but still very appealing to most cats. Slide fountains are also less likely to cause splashes or drips.

Bubbler fountains are the least common type of cat fountain (although many dogs prefer this type of fountain), but there are cats that enjoy them. Bubblers are something of a hybrid between free-fall and slide: the water bubbles up from a central spout, but without much pressure, and then gently flows over the sides of the platform and into the reservoir. These fountains are fairly quiet as well.

Material

Cat fountains are generally made of one of three materials: plastic, stainless steel, or ceramic.

Plastic is by far the most common cat fountain material. These fountains are lightweight and relatively inexpensive. On the downside, many are not dishwasher safe, and the plastic can get scratched or cracked.

Stainless steel fountains are very sturdy and durable. Most are dishwasher safe, which is a big plus. Bacteria and mold are less likely to grow on the metal as well.

Ceramic fountains are attractive and dishwasher safe. On the downside, ceramic can chip and is heavier than plastic or stainless steel. These fountains also tend to be the most expensive choices.

Filter

Just about every cat fountain has some sort of filter to keep the water clean and improve its taste. In many fountains, the filter has a dual or even triple design for heightened effectiveness. As a general rule, you’ll need to replace the filter every few weeks. Filters are typically specific to the brand, so consider the cost of replacements when choosing your fountain.

Carbon or charcoal: The most common type of filter is activated carbon or charcoal, which does a good job of removing chemicals, food debris, dust, hair, and other unpleasant materials that might alter the water’s taste, odor, or freshness.

Foam: Some pet fountains also have a foam filter that serves mostly to catch hair, dust, food particles, or other debris that might clog the fountain’s pump or alter the freshness or taste of the water.

Ion-exchange: The best pet fountains also have an ion-exchange filter to help soften hard water by removing excess minerals.

Reservoir

The more water your fountain holds, the less often you’ll need to refill it, and the less danger of your thirsty pet finding a fountain gone dry. 

If you just have one cat and space is a concern, a small, 1-liter fountain should be sufficient, although you’ll have to refill it often. 

Most cat fountains have a reservoir that holds between 1 and 3 liters. If you have multiple cats using the fountain, and particularly if a dog shares the bowl, it’s best to go larger. Depending on the room temperature and the number of pets sharing the fountain, expect to have to top off a 3-liter fountain every couple of days.

Water flow

Spout: Most fountains have just one spout or slide, but there are models with two, three, or even four spouts. If you just have one cat, the number of spouts isn’t as much of a concern, but if you have two or three felines, multiple spouts might cut down on disputes at drinking time.

Control: Many cat fountains allow you to increase or decrease the flow of water.  That’s a helpful feature because some cats prefer a slower stream of water than others.

Level indicator: Most fountains have a small window that lets you quickly see how much water remains in the reservoir. Be sure to check it every day because evaporation can lower the water supply quickly when the weather is warm and dry. Top off the fountain as needed. Once a week, dump out all the water and replace it with fresh, clean water.

Cord

Most cat fountains have an electrical cord that’s around 5 or 6 feet long. Be sure that the cord of the fountain you’re getting is long enough to easily reach a nearby outlet without too much excess. A dangling cord could tempt your cat to tug and play, potentially tipping over the fountain. If you're preparing your house for a new kitten, consider using a cable management box if your fountain comes with a cord that is significantly longer than what you need.

Noise

You might find the sound of running water soothing, but the hum or buzz of the fountain’s pump can be distracting. If you’re easily bothered by noise, look for a fountain that is specifically advertised to be exceptionally quiet.

Maintenance

Your pet fountain needs to be cleaned regularly to remove any buildup of grime, mold, and bacteria. Ideally, the fountain can go in the dishwasher, is easy to disassemble and reassemble, and doesn’t have too many small parts to keep track of.

Because cats don’t always drink enough water, they can become mildly dehydrated. This can cause kidney problems or digestive issues.

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Pricing

Think of your cat fountain as an investment in your pet’s health. Still, these devices generally aren’t very expensive. 

Inexpensive

Most plastic cat fountains cost between $20 and $30

Mid-range

You’ll pay quite a bit more for a stainless steel fountain. These cost between $25 and $50

Expensive

Ceramic cat fountains are the most expensive type. These generally cost between $40 and $80.

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Staff Tip
Most cats take to a water fountain right away. Place the fountain near the cat’s food but away from the litter box.
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Tips

You’ll need to clean your cat fountain regularly, both to keep it in tiptop working condition and prevent the buildup of mold and bacteria that could be harmful to your pet’s health.

  • Clean the cat fountain at least once a week. Refill the fountain with fresh, clean water often. This is important even if you aren’t going to do a full cleaning. Unplug the fountain before dumping out the water and refilling the reservoir. 
  • Clean the pump motor. Remove the pump motor and disassemble it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This usually won’t be difficult. Use a small cleaning brush to scrub out the faceplate, flow-control valve, impeller, and any other small parts before reassembling the device.
  • Wash the fountain reservoir and top. You can do this by hand or in the dishwasher if the fountain is dishwasher safe. Take care to focus on any corners or crevices if you’re washing the fountain by hand. These are the likeliest spots to harbor mold or grime.
  • Rinse the filter thoroughly. If the filter is clogged with debris, it’s time for a new one. Be sure to inspect and rinse the filter every week even if you aren’t going to fully clean the fountain.
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Check the water level of the cat fountain daily and top it off as needed. Once a week, dump out all the water and refill the fountain with fresh, clean water.

FAQ

Q. Are cat fountains only for cats?

A. Not at all! While these devices are most commonly used to encourage finicky felines to drink more fluids, many dogs also enjoy lapping up flowing water from a fountain. If your pooch shares your cat’s fountain, make sure the dog doesn’t tip the fountain over or chew on any of the plastic parts.

Q. How do I get my cat to use the fountain?

A. Most cats take to a fountain right away once they see and hear the moving water. If yours doesn’t, be patient. Let the cat investigate the fountain when it’s off but has water in the reservoir. Position the fountain near the cat’s food but not the litter box. Make sure the fountain isn’t in a high-traffic area of your home, which can discourage cats from lingering. If your cat still refuses to use the fountain, try spraying a bit of catnip oil on the fountain base.

Q. Can I fill my cat fountain with tap water?

A. As long as the tap water is safe for you to drink, it’s fine for your cat. Remember that the cat fountain has a filter designed to remove chemicals and debris from the water, making it even fresher for your feline.
 

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