Cats instinctively go-to running water for a drink first. It’s just not in their nature to prefer standing water.
The best cat water fountains allow your cats to drink fresh, clean water. Even better, it makes for one happy cat!
Not sure where to start? Wondering if there’s anything you should know before adding that new cat water fountain to your cart? This guide has everything you need to know!
How to Choose the Best Cat Fountain
First, let’s look at the main factors and features you should be looking at:
Size and fit
Of course, whenever you buy a new appliance, you need to make sure it fits in your home. Cat water fountains come in a wide variety of sizes. Some are surprisingly small, and barely noticeable.
Others however, can be quite tall or wide. If you only have one cat, a smaller fountain will usually do the trick. However, if you have multiple cats, it’s worth making some room and getting a bigger one.
Another thing about the ‘fit’ of cat water fountains:
You want to make sure it fits in your home, too. We’re not talking about size here, but rather the overall design.
It’s no secret that some fountains can be a real eyesore.
So, if you plan on having it out in the open, it’s a good idea to find one that fits with your design scheme.
Ease of use
No matter what fountain you’re looking at, ease of use is important for you, and your cat. Make sure the fountain (and water) is easily accessible for your cat. Smaller cats may have trouble drinking from certain fountains if the outer rim is too high.
For your part, it’s best to make sure you can handle the maintenance and upkeep. Cat water fountains have to be cleaned.
The real thing you’re looking at is how easy or difficult cleaning and changing filters is. You may pay a little more for a fountain that requires less maintenance, so weigh your preference with your budget.
How does it filter water?
The best cat water fountains use a filtration system. This helps keep water clean, and your cat healthy.
There are two kinds of filtration systems: chemical and mechanical. Chemical filtration might sound scary, but don’t worry, it’s really not.
Chemical filters simply use carbon in activated charcoal filters. It won’t harm your cat.
Mechanical filters use a physical filter that water goes through before the fountain dispenses it. These are usually spongy, fibrous filters.
No matter which filtration system you choose, you need to change the filter element according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Quality, components, and warranties
Any water fountain will need replacement parts eventually, but if you get a high quality fountain, it shouldn’t be frequently. One of the main things you should look at is the quality of the pump.
A good, well built pump can easily last a few years. A good way to tell whether a cat water fountain is worth investing in is by looking at the warranty. Ideally, the warranty should last for at least a year.
If it’s longer, then that’s even better. A warranty protects your investment, and means the manufacturer won’t charge you to replace or fix your fountain.
However, you should still always look into the warranty details to see exactly what it covers.
Why get a water fountain for cats?
There are plenty of reasons to get your cat a water fountain, and naturally, it varies from cat to cat. That said, a lot of cat owners struggle with making sure their cat drinks enough water.
Cats are finicky, right? You’d be surprised at the difference having fresh, running water makes.
You’ve surely noticed your cat dipping their head in the sink to get water from the faucet. The fountain gives them the same sensation, but with safer, cleaner water.
When water sits, cats tend to avoid it unless they’re really thirsty. Why? Because in the wild, sitting water can grow stagnant.
Essentially, sitting water tells them it might not be healthy to drink. Think of a stagnant pond. There’s an endless variety of microbes, parasites, pathogens, and bacteria just sitting there breeding.
Cats feel safer and more comfortable drinking water from a running source.
So, we know that cats naturally don’t drink a ton of water anyway, and they hate drinking still water. But what about you?
Surprisingly, a cat water fountain benefits you too. It might not be the first reason you get one, but it’s a real timesaver. You don’t have to worry about changing the water bowl several times throughout the day. Likewise, you’ll never get to work and panic about whether or not you remembered to, and if your cat has clean water. These fountains require relatively low maintenance, so it’s a win-win all around.
Best Design: Drinkwell Pagoda Pet Water Fountain
We’ll admit, it’s pretty hard to find a cat water fountain that actually looks good. For most pet fountains, the design is alright, but nothing to write home about.
Naturally, the sleek pagoda inspired design was the first thing that caught our attention with this fountain. It has a modern look to it, and the white ceramic matches pretty much anything you have in the room with it.
We’re always fans of cat supplies that work equally well for one cat as well as multiple cats. That’s another thing we like about this one.
Not only does water come from two sides, there are also two areas on each side for pets to drink from. All in all, that’s four different places your kitties can drink from.
The different levels and drinking areas also make it easier for cats to find a comfortable spot to drink from.
Even if they have joint issues, or are too small to reach the upper spout, they can get their fresh water.
Cats seem fascinated by the water spouting from different spots, so it’s an object of entertainment too.
As far as filtration goes, this is a carbon filter model, which makes it easy to maintain.
Another thing we have to mention about maintenance: it’s easy. Plastic tends to hold onto gunk, which can make cleaning harder to do without chemicals. Luckily, the ceramic wipes down quickly and easily.
However, if you still don’t like cleaning things by hand, don’t worry. You can take it apart and stick it in the top level of your dishwasher.
Some cat fountains come with motors that are fairly noisy, but this isn’t one of them. Yes, you can hear the water quietly bubbling, but that’s it.
- Includes 4 possible drinking areas
- Sleek, modern design looks good anywhere
- Quiet and efficient
- Easy to clean and dishwasher safe
- Accessible for cats with mobility issues
- Ideal for multiple cats
- Slightly pricier than some fountains
- Does not automatically shut off when water runs out
Large Capacity: PetSafe Drinkwell Platinum Cat and Dog Water Fountain
When you have multiple pets, it can be a struggle keeping everyone properly watered.
The first thing that really stood out to us about this fountain is how much water it can hold. It’s pretty normal for the majority of pet water fountains to hold a couple of liters.
This one goes far above and beyond, however. It holds 168 ounces, which is close to a gallon and a half.
If you’re ever worried about the water running out, you certainly won’t with this fountain.
This is another fountain that uses a carbon filter, whether you use the disposable or reusable kind.
While it is built with plenty of plastic components, it’s 100% BPA free, so we felt good knowing our cats are safe. It’s also dishwasher safe, as long as you keep it on the top shelf.
Another thing we really like about this one: you can control the flow of water coming out. Some fountains are perfectly adjusted from the start, but not all are.
It’s really nice to be able to change the water flow, whether it’s because your pet doesn’t like a strong flow, or because of splashing water.
While it does hold an impressive amount of water, you don’t have to worry about it getting knocked over and making a big mess.
It comes with rubber, non slip feet for the bottom to prevent it from getting jostled around. Honestly, it’s a feature we wish more cat water fountains would include.
It’s fairly budget friendly, and you can tell it’s high quality. If you take care of it and keep up with maintenance, it’ll last you and your cat several years.
- Extra high capacity reservoir (168 ounces)
- 100% BPA, pet safe
- Adjustable water flow
- Includes rubber feet to prevent slipping and vibration
- Top rack dishwasher safe
- Doesn’t splash and spill
- Sturdy enough for cats to jump on (and not tip over)
- Faint humming noise, though not much
- Some inner crevices are trickier to clean
Most Versatile: Catit Water Fountain
We love products that let us use them in different ways, and that’s one reason we had to check this cat water fountain out. The first thing you’ll notice is the cute flower design.
Naturally, it never hurts to have something that’s functional and nice to look at. However, where it really wins is versatility.
This fountain also has adjustable flow, but there are three preset flow levels to choose from. We know picky cats, and there’s a setting to make any of them happy.
Water flows between the ‘petals’ and cats seem thoroughly intrigued by the concept. If you really want to make your life easier, you can also pair it with the Catit feeding station, for an all in one solution.
Even the fountain alone holds up to three liters of water, which seems to be higher than the average today.
We also like that there isn’t a huge bowl of water sitting at the bottom. Certain mischievous cats that enjoy making messes don’t seem to do so as much with this fountain.
Instead, there are little petal shaped pools of water underneath the flower fountain.
For us, that was really important. It comes down to having peace of mind that your cat can still get their water, even if the fountain isn’t running. Say the power goes out while you’re at work.
If you’re using this fountain, no problem. Kitty still has plenty of fresh water until you get home.
We’ve saved one of our favorite parts for last:
It comes with a built in LED night light.
Cats are naturally somewhat nocturnal. As a result, they already have fairly good night vision. However, when you notice your cat’s eyesight isn’t what it used to be, they need a little help.
We love knowing our older cats can still see the fountain and get a drink, even with less visibility.
- Includes 3 preset flows
- Small bowls at bottom allow cats to drink when it’s off
- LED night light for better visibility
- Can pair with Catit feeding station
- Holds up to 3 liters
- Advanced filtration system
- Relatively small footprint on floor
- Cute design
- Seems to slide a little on the floor
Best Budget Buy: Aspen Pet Lebistro Auto Gravity Waterer
We’ll admit, this fountain almost won for best gravity powered cat water fountain. However, for the price, there’s really nothing out there that can beat it. We’re serious when we say it’s a fountain you can get for basically pennies on the dollar.
That said, we wouldn’t include it in our reviews if it didn’t do exactly what it’s supposed to: provide your cat with fresh water.
The design might remind you of your typical water cooler, and in fact, the concept is pretty similar.
The difference is really that there’s nothing to press to get water, and absolutely no electricity needed (that’s double savings!).
Whenever the water level gets low, gravity does the work and refills it to the perfect level.
If you’re a really busy person, or have to go out of town often, this is a cat fountain you should really consider.
Not only does it eliminate worries about pumps, electricity, or burning out, it holds a ton of water. You can fill it with up to four gallons of water and let it go to work.
It also gets bonus points for easy maintenance. There are really only two components you ever need to mess with: the bowl, and the bottle.
To assemble them, just fill the bottle and twist it onto the bowl. Despite how much water it holds, it’s surprisingly sturdy. Even if you have dogs in the house, this thing just isn’t tipping over, or spilling.
The bowl is dishwasher safe, so cleaning is an ordeal that takes only a few seconds of effort.
There isn’t any pump or filter to worry about replacing. It’s a three step process to get it started: just fill, twist on, and set down.
- Extremely affordable for any budget
- All around easy to set up and maintain
- Automatically refills water bowl when it’s low
- Surprisingly sturdy
- Dishwasher safe bowl
- Holds up to 4 gallons of water
- Very little maintenance, no future part replacements needed
- Gravity powered, no need for electricity
- Somewhat basic design
- 4 gallons is a lot heavier than you think
Best for Multi-Cat Households: Cat Mate Pet Fountain
In our reviews, we made sure to include plenty of water fountains that work for more than one cat. However, out of all of them, this is our favorite.
There are three different levels, and that unique bit of design already sets it above the rest. Cats don’t need to hover over or under each other to get a drink. That’s because the different drinking levels are spaced out enough that even large cats can all drink at once.
There’s the bottom level, the bowl, a middle level that has a small bowl and flowing water, and the top level where water pools and flows down to the lower levels.
If you have multiple cats, you already know there’s plenty of cleaning and upkeep to deal with.
That’s another reason why this wins our pick to best multi cat water fountain. Just take out the pump and filter, and stick it in the dishwasher. We have to say, the filter seems to need less cleaning than other models too, which is a huge bonus.
You really only need to change the filter about once a month, where some other fountains need to have a filter change every two to three weeks.
It comes at a great price too, and with a few cats, every bit of savings is something we love. We felt good using this, since the manufacturer stands right behind their products. Remember how we discussed warranties?
This cat fountain comes with a three year guarantee, and the pump itself has a one year warranty. That’s good insurance for a small investment.
- Ideal for multiple cats
- Includes three different drinking levels
- Good spacing between different drinking areas
- Very affordably priced
- Includes 3 year warranty on fountain, 1 year warranty on pump
- Less frequent filter changes
- Very energy efficient
- Easy for bigger cats to slide around
- Doesn’t include rubber feet for the bottom
Best 360 Design: PetSafe Drinkwell 360 Water Fountain
If you want your cat to have access to water no matter where they stand by the fountain, this pick is the answer. Sure, there are plenty of cat water fountains that have multiple drinking areas.
However, very few allow your cat 360 degrees of fresh, filtered water.
While the 360 design definitely caught our (and our cat’s) attention, the water streams are another thing to pay attention to.
There are up to five different streams, making it great for finicky cats, as well as those with plenty of furry siblings. You can also adjust the flow, which is another bonus for finicky felines.
The construction does include plastic, although it’s 100% BPA free, so you don’t have to worry about harmful chemicals.
However, it’s also dishwasher safe, which we always appreciate.
It seems to have a really efficient filtration system, and the pump is quiet enough that you really don’t notice it. We’ve found that this helps cats get used to a new water dish, since they only hear the running water.
The pump is easier to clean than most, and the manufacturer actually provides clear, simple instructions on how to do it properly. It comes with foam that wraps around the housing before you fill it up.
It’s a unique feature, and we were a little skeptical. That said, it turns out that it makes cleaning even easier: just wipe down the foam.
This fountain holds 128 ounces of water, which is on the higher end of most cat water fountains. It also means you only need to refill it every few days, which is a huge timesaver.
Don’t worry if you run out of filters, it still operates without them. However, in the interest of providing our fur babies with the cleanest water, we suggest picking some up as soon as you can.
- 360 degree design, 5 drinking streams
- Holds 128 ounces
- Good pump and filtration system
- Easy to clean
- Comes with clear, thorough instructions
- Great for multiple cats
- Pump makes very little, if any noise
- Adjustable flow rate
- Seems to gather more cat hair
Our Top Pick!
When it comes down to it, there was a lot of stiff competition for our top pick of the best cat water fountain for 2020.
There were several near ties, but we can only pick one. So, we went back to the criteria from our buyer's guide.
We're interested in quality, ease of use, and how well the fountain works for both cats, and their human parents.
In the end, our first review, the Drinkwell Pagoda fountain is our favorite. It's made of high quality ceramic, easy to take care of, the cats absolutely love it, and it looks like a perfect fit in any room.