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Water fountains for cats


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I’m thinking of getting a water fountain for my cats, but I don’t have a lot of money and I’m looking to cut corners.  I’m ok with up to $50 for the bowl itself (I have a coupon), but it’s the ongoing costs of the filters that will stop me from being able to afford it.

1. Filters:
How necessary are those?  If I clean the fountain every couple of days, does it really, really need a filter?  Does the design make it so they won’t work without a filter in place?  (I could get a tabletop water fountain not designed for cats...just a decorative one that doesn’t have a filter at all.)  It seems that the filter is supposed to protect the motor from debris (cat fur and slobber, I guess) and to “make the water taste fresh.”  Well, the water will taste the same in the fountain as it does when I pour it into a regular bowl and I don’t use a filter when I put the water in a regular bowl, so the “fresh taste” part seems goofy to me.  I have 5 cats.  Will they create so much gunk that I’d have to change the filter every week?

I plan on turning the motor off at night.

2.  Plastic:
I have read that the plastic fountains are easier to harbor mold because the plastic gets tiny scratches.  If you have a plastic fountain, does that seem to be true?  What if I’m willing to clean it every day or two?  With vinegar water?  

3.  Cleaning:
How hard are they to clean?  If I want to clean them with vinegar water would I need a huge bucket to soak it in?  Is it impractical to think I could do that every couple of days?  

4. Finicky kitties:
What happens if I get a fountain, it turns out to be a moldy mess so I stop using fountains, and now the cats don’t want to drink from regular bowls at all anymore? Will they have dehydration/urinary problems because I opened Pandora’s box?


Overal, what do any of you think of water fountains for cats if you’ve used them?  I know that kitties prefer to drink from running water (their instincts have them drinking from streams rather than puddles), and I want them to have good health, but at the same time I don’t want to waste a bunch of money on junk.  And honestly, I don’t want to have to buy filters every two weeks for the rest of my life.



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I had this Drinkwell fountain for about ten years. It outlasted the cats and was still working fine when the last one passed on.

I used the filter that originally came with it and maybe bought one or two more before I stopped using them. IMO they're more trouble than they're worth. I really don't think they provided much benefit at all. I *think* the movement of the water helps aerate it and makes it taste fresher? But IDK. That one works just fine w/o a filter in place.

I did NOT like cleaning it. It was a hassle to take apart and hand wash it. There are little nooks and crannies and corners that are challenging to clean. They sell a cleaning kit for it now, which I don't think was available when our cats were around. I always kept a separate bottle brush to use on the cat fountain. 

I never had any problem at all with mold, and we live in a high humidity area. I generally cleaned it at least once a week but I don't think I ever did it more than every three or four days. But we only had two cats drinking from it. More cats will make it get dirtier quicker. I disinfected it with a bleach soak. It never occurred to me to clean ours with vinegar, but then I'm one of those people who thinks vinegar's cleaning/disinfecting ability is hugely over-rated. I washed and soaked it in the kitchen sink. I've always had large double sinks and the fountain fit easily. It might be a problem with a smaller sink, though.

Our cats always loved their fountain, and I do think they drank more with it than they would have from a regular water bowl. I'd rethink turning it off overnight, though. Many cats are active during the night, or at least have an active period. Ours always drank and ate more at night than they did during the day. Why would you turn it off at night anyway?

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1 hour ago, Pawz4me said:


. Why would you turn it off at night anyway?

Simply to not have to replace the filter as often as recommended.  I figure that if it wasn’t running, the filter wouldn’t be getting gunked up as fast.  

But thank you for everything you said.  That’s exactly the sort of information I’m looking for.


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