KitKat has had cystitis twice since January. Apparently, water infections can be lethal to cats, so I spent some time researching ways to minimise the risk.
Beyond preventing her from eating human food (I know, I’m a terrible cat mom) and switching her to a wet-food-only diet to reduce the minerals and whatnot in her system, the best answer I could find was to get her a drinking fountain.
“Cats don’t like static water,” I read. “My cat will only drink from a dripping tap,” said cat owners everywhere. (Or, well, in the Facebook group I joined, anyway.) “Cats only drink moving water because it’s fresh and not stagnant or filled with bacteria” and “running water is good for kidney function”. (I’m paraphrasing.)
Okay, says I. Let’s try this fountain thing.
But, which should I buy? There are a heck of a lot of options out there and they range from the “probably not worth the money” price tag to the “that’s well out of my budget”. Some are stainless steel or ceramic, but most are made of plastic — which can cause acne in cats and tends to harbour bacteria. Reviews said some were noisy, others that their cats easily toppled water everywhere because the fountains just weren’t sturdy enough.
In short, my research suggested that the best fountains are not something I — and probably most of you, for that matter — can afford. So what’s the next best option?
ZooPlus had a sale on the CatIt Design Fresh n Clear Drinking Fountain. I’ve been impressed by the CatIt brand since I bought one of their Senses tracks and it turned out to be one of KitKat’s favourite go-to toys. I figured, for £17.99 (discounted), I couldn’t go far wrong with one of their fountains.
How naïve I was.
The fountain was noisy enough to keep me awake at night, even though the only comfortable place to plug it in is approximately three metres away in the hall. It only had one setting, and my carers could only get that to work half the time. The rest of the time, it was basically just an expensive water bowl.
Fortunately, ZooPlus offer great customer service. I emailed them asking to return it for a refund. They were quick to give my money back, but suggested I donate the fountain to my local rescue. Despite personal misgivings about the product, I thought a sanctuary might find use for it — even as the aforementioned water bowl — so that’s exactly what I did.
The second time around, I settled on the CatIt flower fountain at £25.99 from Amazon. It has a lot of reviews, and most of them are 4 and 5 star, which always makes me feel better about spending my money.
The Flower Fountain has three settings in case your cat prefers their water flow slower or faster than the default, and it even looks cute. It also holds three litres, which is a ridiculous amount for most single-cat households but means I don’t have to worry too much if I forget to ask my carers to refill it for a few nights.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to appeal to KitKat either. I’ve tried it on all three settings, leaving each one for roughly a week to give her time to investigate. She’s slow to warm up to new things so I didn’t think she’d take to it immediately, anyway. Sure enough, she’s sniffed around it a few times, and checked it out whenever we’ve changed something, but I can’t tell if she’s been drinking from it at all.
The noise is also a problem. When we first set it up, the Flower Fountain was much quieter than the original Fresh n Clear fountain I returned. Over time, however, the pump has gotten louder. Removing the flower makes it sound like running water — and not just a trickle, no, but a full-on running tap! (Which is funny because I would have assumed it would be noisier with the flower bit in than out, but never mind.)
As you can imagine, the noise can get infuriating for someone with insomnia, and the trickling sounds just make me need the toilet all the time!
In a last ditch attempt to get KitKat to use it, we put the flower back in and moved it from the hall into the bedroom. I was leery of doing this because of the noise but, funnily enough, it was actually much quieter in here. I barely noticed it the first night. Sadly, the same thing happened: KitKat showed it all the interest she’d shown before. As it turned out, the filter was riddled with what looked like bugs (that I think was probably actually carbon bits or whatever is in the filters). I wouldn’t have wanted to drink from that, either.
Finally, we took the filter out (because I didn’t want to spend £5+ on a new one if she wasn’t going to drink from it anyway) and stuck the fountain in the kitchen. At the next visit, I asked my carers to turn it off altogether because it was so loud without the filter that I could hear it two rooms away and it was driving me nuts. (And still, no sign that KitKat might ever drink from it.) I plan to send it to Rain Rescue at the first opportunity and hope that their foster kitties will use it more than mine.
Would I recommend a water fountain to you?
Yes, because research has proven they have dramatic benefits for the health of the cat. I would suggest starting at the bottom of the market, though, or even trying your cat with a dripping tap to check if they prefer their water mobile before committing to an expensive product. Some kitties clearly just don’t like water.
And if you do buy one and your cat doesn’t take to it right away, I can only suggest moving it around and leaving it in its new spot for a few days, or altering the setting if you can. Just as with litter boxes and food bowls, cats don’t like their water to be in a high traffic hot spot where they might feel vulnerable. And there are many other factors that might put them off, such as the noise of the pump or the speed of the flow.
Alternatively, try getting a glass of water, taking a sip or two, then leaving it out for your kitties. Several owners I chat with on Facebook have cats that will only drink from a water glass their owner has used. (Weird, am I right? But no weirder than rolling around in my armpit like it’s soaked in catnip, I guess…)
Alternatives for you
Things didn’t go well for us, but I still encourage you to try a fountain for your kitty. Here are a couple of cheapish models (under £30) you might want to check out because they’ve got good reviews (four or five stars). (Prices listed are for recommended retail, so you’ll probably find them cheaper if you shop around. I personally recommend ZooPlus.)
- CatIt Design Fresh n Clear Drinking Fountain £24.90 (see my review above)
- Cat Mate Pet Fountain £25.99
- Fresh Flow Deluxe Cat Water Fountain £29.99
- CatIt Design Drinking Fountain for Cats and Small Dogs £19.99
- Fresh Flow Deluxe Cat Water Fountain (in black) £29.99
- CatIt Flower Fountain £25.99 (see my review above)
- CatIt Senses Water Fountain £21.21
- Petmate Deluxe Fresh Flow Pet Water Fountain £24.99
Added 28th September 2018: I’ve been made aware of a gorgeous fountain that looks more like the decorative kind you’d buy for a zen garden rather than a kitty: Miaustore’s Ceramic Cat Water Fountain. It’s more expensive again at £49 but it looks beautiful—certainly more appropriate for the style-conscious cat owners among us than many of the plastic versions you can find. We haven’t tried it but the reviews look good and Miaustore takes the time to detail a lot of things about their fountain (including why it’s important that cats drink water) that most others don’t.
And if you’re looking for a bit more detail on what other people consider the “best” cat fountains, try these:
- 15 of the best pet water fountains by PetMoneySaver
- Cat Water Dispensers by Cat Food Dispensers Reviews (offers full reviews of each fountain listed)
- 10 best water fountains for cats and dogs by Petsho (offers pros & cons for each)
If I were to try a third, I’d probably go for the Cat Mate Pet Fountain this time. It has the best reviews I’ve seen for the cost of the fountain, so it seems like the best option and it doesn’t look completely ugly. It just isn’t the cheapest or prettiest out there, which is why I went for the CatIt ones instead. Otherwise, I’d probably try the Pioneer Raindrop because it’s made of stainless steel rather than plastic. Unfortunately, I don’t think any fountain is going to work for KitKat, so I need to figure out other ways of getting her to drink more instead.
But hey, at least she doesn’t drink out of the toilet!
Does your cat have a fountain?
Did you already buy your kitty a water fountain? What made you pick the one you chose? Did it have the desired effect, or did it turn out to be just an expensive water bowl?
If you haven’t committed yet, do you plan to? Which one are you hoping to buy? I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on the results, too!