What should I look for in a Pet Water fountain?

Are you looking to buy a water fountain for your pets?  First off, buying any water fountain is a step in the right direction.  Every household should own at least one. I personally own two and plan on purchasing another for my five cats and two dogs.  

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Red Merle Australian Shepherd drinking from water fountain

Encourages Animals to Drink

A water fountain encourages your pets to drink water, especially cats.  Dogs are pretty demanding when it comes to water. They look up at you with the sad eyes when really they are saying ‘Where is my water, woman!’.  However, cats don’t necessarily scream to you that they are in need of agua.

Cat issues

For cats that eat an all dry food diet, water intake is extremely important to their health.  Water fountains encourage cats to drink more water. The water moving makes a noise which draws the cat’s attention.  Their curious nature allows them to take a taste.  Prior to owning a water fountain, I assumed cats drank from the water bowl that I laid in front of them.  Not necessarily so.  Cats put their paws, toys and/or food in the water.  Plus hair and dirt end up accumulating in their water bowl.  All before they drink even half of the water.  

I didn’t invest in a water fountain until Gabe had his first urinary block and I fed my cats an all dry food diet.  I didn’t know much about feline urinary issues, at the time and didn’t know that an all dry diet is necessarily bad.  However, we learn quickly when we encounter problems or issues with our pets.  At the time, all my pets were relatively young, so this type of information just wasn’t something I ever thought to investigate. 

Orange and white cat sitting stupidly on a colorful chair

I learned that canned cat food provided 80% of a cat’s water intake while the rest comes from direct water consumption.  So while feeding your cat both a wet and dry diet is a good idea for any cat, it is extremely important if they have urinary issues.  My Gabe was not an avid water drinker.  He never was.  I imagine this contributed to his issues.  But I truly believe that certain cats (particularly Gabe) are just pre-disposed for urinary problems. 

Feeding my cats an all dry diet didn’t cause Gabe’s situation, but it sure didn’t help either. The rest of my crew (Gabe was Cat#4) didn’t have any issues.  Urinary issues are one of the top three causes of death in older cats in many studies.  So even if your cat doesn’t have an issue now, there is a high chance one will develop as they get older.  Best thing to do is to buy your water fountain to encourage and promote fresh filtered water for your entire pet population.  Water helps to flush out all the bad things and keeps the body hydrated.     

Benefit to Dogs

Dogs tend to drink any type of water that’s available, no matter if it’s been sitting for days, or has bacteria in it.  We started out with a pet water fountain before we owned dogs, but that doesn’t mean the water fountain isn’t put to good use for Elliot & Lexi too.  Most dogs tend to be sloppier than most cats.  Besides spilling outside of the bowl or fountain, they can make the water dirty with their slobber or by putting their paws or faces directly into the bowl or under the falling water. The filter improves the water quality that goes into your dog’s belly.   I also recommend a deep mat or extra absorbent rug to place under the water fountain to catch all the random water.    

General rules relevant to all Water Fountains

Over my 10 years of pet ownership, I owned many different versions of water fountains.  In fact, it took me several years to realize I needed a fountain.  Each worked well for the pets I owned at the time, but my tastes changed; my pets multiplied, and I learned new things with each new fountain I purchased.    

Things you need to expect with every water fountain:  

  1. They will not last for 10 years.  Even if you find the best water fountain currently on the market, it still has a shelf life.  New items come out and parts for Pagoda pet water fountain sitting on sink being washedeven stainless steel becomes stained with watermarks.
  2. Every fountain needs a source of power, i.e. an electrical plug.  Make sure when making a plan to buy that you factor in a spot to place it, with electrical access.    
  3. All fountains need to be cleaned.  Sometimes, this ends up being weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.  The biggest factor in how often you clean your fountain involves the number of pets using it.  But ease of cleaning is a major factor in how much I clean it.    
  4. Fountains come with different replaceable filters.  If buying multiple fountains, try to purchase two that have the same filters.  This makes buying replacements so much easier.

1st Water Fountain

My first water fountain was the Drinkwell Platinum.  I loved this fountain for the extra space to store water. It was easy to fill without having to remove the entire fountain from the floor.  I didn’t have to unplug it. But it was hard to clean and almost the entire fountain is plastic. Plastic holds in bacteria. It’s the same premise of not using plastic bowls to feed your pets.  It works, but you need to clean it at least once a week. Not easily taken apart for cleaning, this discouraged me and I began putting it off. After grim built up on the plastic, I needed a replacement fountain within 6-9 months.  

If you are a diligent cleaner and don’t mind taking this fountain apart, it’s a great fountain.  The extra water storage is not found in many other fountains.  It was the feature that drew me to this fountain 5 years ago.  

2nd Water Fountain

My second fountain was a stainless steel one:  DrinkWell 360. Without the extra water container, you fill this up directly by pouring water into the fountain.  It had multiple heads that allowed you to change the water falling feature of the fountain. Alex loves drinking from falling water.  Most of the others, prefer to drink from the bowl. The 360 bowl allowed all cats to drink at the same time. Usually, only three drank at any one time, although I had four cats when we purchased this unit.  There was room enough for all to enjoy without infringing on anybody’s space.  This worked well for a few years. Cleaning was simple. Filling it was simple. We did start to see water stains on the ‘stainless steel’, so I’m not sure how much longer it would have lasted.  

The reason we no longer own this fountain is that Elliot came into our lives.  Elliot was 8 weeks old when we brought him home. It took him less than a week to learn to pull the plastic headpiece (that produces the falling water) off of the fountain.  After several attempts to replace this, we gave up and just filled the large 360 bowl with water for a few months.


Blue Australian Shepherd drinking from Drinkwell 360 fountain

3rd Water Fountain

One of our Blue & Red Merle Aussies drinking from water fountain similar to Seascape fountaincurrent water fountains is similar to the PetSafe Seascape.  Our model is not currently sold anymore nor do I remember the name of it.  Our model is round while the Seascape is a rectangle, but otherwise, it looks pretty similar.  We purchased this so Elliot would not remove any parts from it. Even though he was older, he still had a lot of puppy energy and once he learned a trick, he tended to repeat it.  It has no water falling feature, but it’s a very good fountain and met both the dogs’ and the cat’s needs.  Capacity is a little small, but this might just be because we have two dogs and approximately three cats drinking from it. Cleaning it is a breeze. It is ceramic so all of the parts that do not involve the filter are placed in the dishwasher. There are two filters, a normal carbon filter and a square sponge that traps some of the hair before the water is filtered through the carbon.  The water comes up through the center of the ball and flows down the sides to the trough around it.  

The dogs use this exclusively as their water source.  Two of my girl cats like to lick the moving water off of the round ball, specifically Ham and Quinn. Nomay tends to stick her entire head in to drink from the bowl portion.  We fill it once or twice a day at least.  And Ham stands over the fountain to let us know that it needs to be filled to the top for her.   

Blue & white pet water fountain with water falling





Additional Water Fountain

When Gabe died, I thought our urinary issues were behind us.  I stopped feeding my entire cat population prescription C/D food.  But low and behold six months after Gabe died, Alex was diagnosed with urinary issues.  Alex endured a lot in a short period of time.  We switched him back to ‘normal’ food.  He endured moving to a new house and the addition of new sisters, one puppy, and one kitten.  I thought my highly stressed out cat deserved his very own water fountain. 

Alex & Sam never truly accepted Elliot and remain scared to death of him.  In the new house, the cats got their very own ‘cat rooms’.  Designated areas where the dogs can’t enter.  The cats can still come and go as they please, but there remains a gate at the doorway blocking the dogs from entering. 

Since Alex was the one that always liked the falling water feature, I purchased the PetSafe Pagoda for him.  All the cats drink have access to this, in the upstairs ‘cat room’. It makes a trickling noise, and when the water level is low, the noise changes.  Even walking by the room, I can tell when water needs to be added. It is very easy to clean. Disassemble and reassemble with cleaning takes about 15 minutes.  It uses the same filters as the Seascape, so buying one big supply of filters is cheaper and easier.  Just like the Seascape, it is ceramic and dishwasher safe.  I rarely place this one in the dishwasher, only because it services the 2nd floor and I can just as easily clean it with Dawn in the laundry room.


Tortie Cat ready to drink from Pet water fountain

Another Water Fountain on the Horizon.

My plan is to buy a 3rd water fountain in the coming months.  We have a separate downstairs ‘cat room’ which is another separate safe space for the cats.  But I haven’t invested the time into looking for another water fountain.

My first inclination is to purchase another Pagoda over the Seascape.  It seems to have more capacity, but this could just be an illusion.  Obviously, two medium-sized dogs will always drink more than a combined five cats.  Plus the dogs do it in one sitting and the cats spread it out over time. 

However, the Seascape was a life-saver when we purchased it, and now, in that, it has no movable parts.  The ball in the fountain is heavy enough that neither of the dogs can move it.  Plus it’s round so they never get a good grip on it when they paw at it.  Luckily, their mouths are smaller than the ball. 

The next fountain will be for the cats again, so the Pagoda is the way to go unless a new one catches my eye.    

Red Merle Aussie drinking from water fountain on blue background

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