9 Best Water Fountains for Cats and Dogs of 2023
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Serve up fresh, circulating water to your cat or dog with an automatic pet fountain.
Providing sufficient water is the most basic, must-do chore for pet owners, especially when the weather heats up. Most dogs will slurp from a bowl, but cats are famously finicky and some don't like their whiskers touching the sides of a small dish. Plus, many cats also just dig moving water.
"Cats that are attracted to running water sources are likely expressing an evolved trait that is part of the natural evolution of the species," says Mieshelle Nagelschneder, owner of the Cat Behavior Clinic in Portland, Oregon. "Cats instinctually like moving water because it’s likely more clean than standing water when encountered in the wild."
An electric, automatic cat water fountain can entice the feline in your life to drink more often, though some families get a fountain for a dog to ensure there's always fresh water on hand. A pet water fountain can often hold several days worth of liquid, so you'd need to refresh it less often than a bowl. Most include a carbon filter to clean the water, much like a water pitcher filter you might use for yourself. The only disadvantage of a fountain over a bowl is that an automatic fountain requires electricity.
The Good Housekeeping Institute regularly evaluates gear and accessories for pet lovers, including pet hair removal tools and best cat carriers. For this story, we evaluated 15 popular pet fountains, enlisting six feline and three canines as our testers. We looked at each fountain's capacity and height, graded each on how noisy it was and how easy it was to clean, and studied the filter situation, outlining how much replacement filters cost and how often they need to be changed. Based on all those factors, we determined these were the best water fountains for cats and dogs.
After this list, you'll find more details about pet water fountain recommendations from veterinarians, a way to guess if your cat will like a water fountain, what to look for when shopping and more about how we tested pet water fountains.
While it might be more utilitarian-looking than others, the Rellaty pet fountain ended up being our fave. Nearly silent, it's the quietest of the dozen pet fountains that we tried and it's also the easiest water fountain to clean.
The stainless steel bowl fits nicely in the dishwasher. The top has the pump attached to the underside, so you should disassemble the pump first if you want to put the top piece in the dishwasher, otherwise you can rinse it all clean in your sink. The fountain is sold with a tiny brush to help clean the inside of the spout piece.
"I was really able to set it and forget it with this fountain. It doesn't get knocked over the way their little dishes did," said our tester with two cats and two kids. The fountain offers two spouts of flowing water and can hold more than three liters of water, so if you have multiple cats or a thirsty little dog, you should be good for days. The bummer is that there's no way to see the water level. If your animal drinks about the same amount each day, you'll soon get into a rhythm of knowing how much and how often to replenish.
With a generous six-foot-long cord, there are plenty of options for where to place the fountain. We also like that this comes with four filters to start you off. The brand recommends changing the filter every two to four weeks and the pre-filter sponge every four to six weeks to keep the water fresh. There's a replacement pack with eight filters and sponges so you'll probably end up with extra sponges since those get replaced less frequently.
Dogs drink more water than cats and this holds a full six liters of water for them, filtering it and sending it bubbling or running out the top.
It's made with dogs in mind, elevated almost a full seven inches so those taller pups don't have to bend down too far to get hydrated. (Though if there's a big cat in the house, it might try this out, too!) There is no way to see the water level, but the sound of the pump will grow louder when you need to add more water.
This fountain's BPA-free plastic parts can go in your dishwasher but many of the Amazon reviewers say that because this is just essentially two large pieces (top and bottom) they can easily hand-wash them in the sink once a week.
Zeus suggests replacing the filter monthly and sells a two-pack of replacement filters. Each filter ends up costing about $7, one of the more expensive that we saw. If your dog tends to make a mess with the water, note that the brand just launched a new fountain with splash-guard sides that we have not yet been able to test.
This ceramic water fountain looks more like home decor, so if you plan on placing it in a living room or office, it will blend in nicely, though you can expect to pay a bit more for it.
Water falls gently from both sides and the splash is audible from a room away. Fans of the Pagoda Pet Fountain praise the sound in online reviews; testers said they found the water-garden sound "soothing" and that it "provided ambiance."
One feature we especially like is that even if you lose electricity, there will still be plenty of water available in the wide-open basin. The main pieces, aside from the pump, are also dishwasher-safe and it's very easy to check the water level to determine if you need to replenish.
The brand suggests replacing the filter every two to four weeks and sells a 12-pack of replacement filters for only a little over $1 per filter, one of the best prices we saw. You should also replace the pre-filter foam every month or two; those are sold separately for closer to $3 a piece.
This design, out since 2004, mimics water falling from a faucet and many cats seem to take to it. We especially like the wide, low bowl which allows access for two cats and also makes it easy for a young kitten or senior cat to drink.
When the tank is full of water, this fountain is virtually silent. As soon as the level starts to go down, you begin to hear noise from the pump, which prompts you to do a refill. There's no visual water gauge, so we came to appreciate knowing that when we heard the pump, some water was needed.
"My two cats don't drink out of this at the same time but they both go over to it multiple times a day," our tester said. We read comments online about this sometimes not working, but we know a senior cat who has used this model for nearly 10 years straight with no problem. We did buy the latest version to test and as of this review, the new model has been running for more than a month with no troubles.
This plastic water fountain has a lower capacity than others on our list, so expect to top off the water every few days. The brand suggests a window of two to four weeks for replacing the filter and sells a three-pack of replacement filters.
We assumed that, at this price, there would be many compromises to make regarding this cat fountain, but it's a solid choice.
It didn't make any mechanical noise in our tests, though, "I could hear the gentle water-splashing sound from the next room," one tester said. Yet because the water only falls a couple of inches from the cute flower in the center— with a total of six mini spouts — the noise level was still less than some other fountains we tested.
We appreciate that the Ciays includes three filters. The brand sells an 8-pack of replacement filters and suggests you change the filter every two weeks, which is more often than most fountains. There's only a few easy assembly steps to get the fountain up and running.
It holds enough water to keep one cat hydrated for days, and it's easy to see the water level through the window on the front. There are three color choices: blue (shown), gray and green. The five-inch height of the square bowl should work for toy dog breeds but the overall bowl size is too small for most dogs. Also, the flower piece is a little tough to clean; versions that cost a little more often come with a brush you can use to help clean small crevices.
You can set this small water dish anywhere, since it doesn't require power, and gravity does the work of pulling water from the reservoir into the bowl.
You also don't need to buy filter replacements because it doesn't use a filter. (If providing filtered water is a non-negotiable for you, look at any of the other choices on our list). It's cheating a bit to call this a "fountain" since the water doesn't pour down and circulate, but if your main goal is to not be refilling a dish every day, and you want something silent, this will help you out.
Unfortunately this doesn't hold even a liter of water; the 27 ounces, however, is sufficient to provide for a cat for two days, so this can be good to leave out when you're away for a weekend. The brand does not recommend that you put it in the dishwasher, but the bowl is made of glass and easy to clean in the sink. This is another one that's low to the ground, easy for kittens and senior cats to reach.
This adorable, flower-adorned water fountain is a favorite of many pet families, garnering over 29K five-star reviews on Amazon.
Made of BPA-free plastic, the compact round design easily tucks into a cramped space, and the window on the front clearly indicates water level. "You can detach the yellow part of the flower from the white part so it's easy to clean them both, and this comes with a thin bristle brush to help with cleaning as well," our tester noted.
We found the noise level to be loud but not unpleasant. The water falls two inches from the top of the flower and then down another inch to the splashpad and then drops into the basin below, which might account for it being louder than others. Some online reviewers called this out as a plus, because cats are attuned to sound and many love to hear running water.
We appreciate that it holds a full three liters. It only comes with one filter to get you started, but the brand suggests you only need to swap it out monthly. If you use the filter the fountain comes with and also get a five-pack of replacement filters, you should be good for half a year.
The small bowl might be okay for tiny dog breeds but is best for cats. Keep in mind that the six-inch height from floor to bowl is probably too tall for a kitten. The fountain comes in green (shown) or blue. Note that the cord is only three feet long; if your available outlet is up high or further away, you may need an extension cord.
Looking for an extra-large bowl? Pioneer Pet's got you. Any size dog can drink from this ceramic fountain as well as multiple cats. If you've got a multi-pet household, this one fountain can be a watering hole for all of them.
The drawback of the large bowl is that debris like stray kibble and hair tends to settle at the bottom and not get pushed through the filter. That saves the filter, but this fountain needs to be cleaned at least once or twice a week. You have to take three pieces apart; two of them are dishwasher-safe or can be hand-washed. Don't submerge the pump — follow directions in the fountain's manual for cleaning that.
It is made of sturdy ceramic, which has upsides and downsides. At seven pounds, it's not easy for pets to push around. But picking it up to clean takes some arm strength. It's also a workout filling it up with a gallon of water again after each cleaning.
Turn hydration into a game for your dog by connecting this step-on water dispenser to an outdoor hose in your yard or on a patio. Basically, you are letting your dog call the shots; whenever they press a foot on the pedal, there's a squirt of water.
You will have to train your pup on how to use it, and set the water pressure to low or high depending on how big your dog is and how high you want the water to spurt upwards. But then offering them water outside is easy and in their control!
This will provide water straight from your garden hose so it's not carbon-filtered like other water fountains on this list. The hose hookup does have the very basic screen that catches large particles. It also comes with a two-way splitter so you can use this alongside a hose that's attached to your lawn sprinkler or available for watering your garden.
This is best for large dog breeds with some paw power and some smarts, such as Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and the like. Beware: They might soak themselves, but they'll likely love it.
We presented 15 water fountains to six cats and three dogs across four households over the course of a month. Because many of our furry test subjects were willing to drink anything, we graded pet fountains primarily on data points that matter to the humans in the home.
Before you choose an automatic pet water fountain, here are some factors to consider:
✔️ Ease of cleaning: In our tests, the stainless-steel fountains and ceramic fountains were easier to clean than the plastic ones, but they were more expensive to purchase. The little plastic flower spouts on some pet fountains are very cute but are a little harder to clean than the simpler fountain spouts. It's nice when pieces can be put in the dishwasher, though many pet families report that they simply hand-wash their pet fountains so they're not out of operation for more than a few minutes. Pumps are the hardest parts to clean but do not need to be scrubbed regularly like the rest of the fountain. Keep and consult the manual that comes with your fountain for when you have to clean the pump.
✔️ Capacity: If you intend for the fountain to serve water to your cat when you go on vacation, keep this in mind: A healthy 10-pound cat should drink eight fluid ounces a day, according to Megan Conrad, MBBS, a veterinarian at HelloRalphie.com (a HearstLab company). Even so, if you'll be gone longer than a weekend, you should have someone check in and refill the fountain and any automatic feeder just to be safe. There's always the chance that your electricity could go out, stopping the water fountain, so having a cat sitter is important. If you frequently travel, we also suggest a pet camera.
Dogs are bigger on average, so most drink more than a cat will. A dog drinks an ounce for every pound, so a 50-pound dog drinks about 1.5 liters daily, Dr. Conrad says. If your fountain is for your pup or will be shared between a dog and a cat, we recommend you look for a large-capacity pet fountain.
✔️ Type and size: Most pet water fountains either drip water down from a height or have it bubble up from the bowl; many fountains can do either depending on whether you insert the spout or just let the water gurgle at the surface. Our two non-electric choices work differently, with one just holding water in a bowl and the other being dog-activated to shoot water in the air.
When it comes to kittens, senior pets and toy dog breeds, most have the easiest time reaching a low-profile water fountain that's less than four inches tall. Regular cats and small dog breeds can use most standard pet fountains that have a bowl that's three to six inches off the ground. Larger dogs won't have to stoop so much if their fountain is six or more more inches from the ground.
✔️ Cost of filters: Check the price of the replacement filters and how often the brand suggests you change the filter. Another option is to go with a fountain that does not require a filter at all, like the Cheerble Wireless Cat Water Dispenser. If you like your local water supply and don't filter your own drinking water, you do not have to filter your pet's water, though it's obvious that the brands highly encourage you to do so. "Pets don't need filtered water. I would consider this more of a luxury," say Dr. Conrad. "In some areas, filtered water tastes better so this may be beneficial for cats that need more water or are picky."
Are you wondering if a water fountain is better than a water bowl for cats? We consulted with two vets to get their expertise.
"Cats are very particular about what they drink so fountains are naturally more appealing to them. My dog will drink old water but my cats insist the water is fresh before drinking it, and they drink out of both a fountain and a bowl," says Dr. Conrad. "If your cat drinks happily from a bowl, it isn't a necessity to have a fountain, but sometimes I will recommend fountains for cats with urinary or kidney issues to encourage them to drink more often and remain hydrated."
Not every cat will take to a water fountain. "Although many cats prefer water fountains, there are also cats that will not use them," says Bradley Krohn, a veterinarian with The Vets. Read a tip in the box below for finding out if your cat will like using one. Then follow this advice for setting up a cat water fountain:
There's an assumption that cats hate water, but that's only partly true. Most cats hate getting their bodies wet. Many, however, love sipping from gently dripping water. You might catch them trying to drink out of the kitchen faucet.
Try this simple trick before you buy your cat a water fountain. Place a bowl down and hold a glass of water above it. Slowly pour the water from the glass into the bowl. Watch to see if your cat is fascinated or excited. If they're into it, like Azula, here, they would probably love a water fountain.
If, however, your cat runs in terror (Azula's sister, appropriately named Little Spazzy, wants nothing to do with falling water and avoided every cat fountain we plugged in for her), stick with a dish filled with still water, and be sure to refresh it daily.
You will want to clean your pet fountain once a week, or at least every two weeks, to limit bacterial growth. Any vessel that holds water for that length of time will start to get slimy without a cleaning. Disassemble the fountain; most parts except the pump and the filter can go in the dishwasher or you can wash them in your sink with dish soap and warm water. Just be sure to rinse well. Read the manufacturer's instructions on how often to replace the filter. Be sure to change the water often.
The scientists, researchers and market specialists at the Good Housekeeping Institute in New York City have been helping consumers make good choices for more than a century. Our experts collect data and evaluate purchases big and small.
Contributing writer and cat parent Jessica Hartshorn tested the pet water fountains for this story and wrote the reviews. She most recently helmed kid and pet coverage for Parents magazine.
Jessica (she/her) is a freelance writer with several decades of experience writing lifestyle content and evaluating home and parenting products. A mom of two teens and two cats, her previous work can be seen in American Baby and Parents.
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8 Best Electric Blankets of 2023we evaluated 15 popular pet fountains, enlisting six feline and three canines as our testers quietest of the dozen pet fountains that we tried and it's also the easiest water fountain to clean.this holds a full six litersceramic water fountain looks more like home decor the wide, low bowl which allows access for two cats and also makes it easy for a young kitten or senior cat to drink it's easy to see the water level through the window on the frontdoesn't require power, and gravity does the work of pulling water from the reservoir into the bowla favorite of many pet families, garnering over 29K five-star reviews on AmazonAny size dog can drink from this ceramic fountain as well as multiple cats game for your dog by connecting this step-on water dispenser to an outdoor hoseSetup:Noise level:Cleaning:✔️Ease of cleaning:✔️Capacity: ✔️Type and size: ✔️ Cost of filters:it isn't a necessity to have a fountain, but sometimes I will recommend fountains for cats with urinary or kidney issues to encourage them to drink more oftenDon't take away the old water bowl right awayoffer choicesConsider providing water in more than one roomBe good about cleaning and refreshing