Getting a cat to use a cat drinking fountain
September 14, 2008 8:24 PM   Subscribe

How to get my cats to drink from the Drinkwell fountain?

Two weeks ago I bought a Drinkwell fountain for my cats, but neither one will drink from it. Anyone had this happen? Any way I can encourage them? They are both indoor only cats, neutered males; they eat only wet food, and they have no other water source available to them. Fountain or no, they don't seem terribly interested in drinking when they're eating only wet food.
posted by agent99 to Pets & Animals (6 answers total)
They're probably getting much of the water they need from the wet food, so there's no need to panic. I saw a huge drop in water-drinking when I switched my cats from dry to wet food.

I would keep the fountain turned off for several days and let them use it like a normal water dish. When you do turn it on, set the water flow to the lowest level where it will be quiet and won't splash kitty in the face. Once they are drinking from it, you can gradually increase the water flow.
posted by weebil at 8:50 PM on September 14, 2008

Are you positive they're not drinking from it? If that's the only water source available, they're probably drinking from it or you'd likely notice some health issues -- they need water to live.

Do you think, if they're not drinking from it, they're getting water somewhere else? A toilet or something?

Unfortunately, cats are very finicky and may not come around and want to drink from it if they have an alternative. I doubt they'd let it get to the point of being sick / drinking no water at all, though.

A few things you could do, though, if they're favoring some other source like a toilet / sink:
- Make those sources unavailable, of course
- Put the water dish somewhere away from their food dish. Some cats are weird about having water and food in the same place. Why? I have no idea. They're weird animals.
- Likewise, make sure it's nowhere near litter boxes.
posted by twiggy at 8:51 PM on September 14, 2008

I put my Drinkwell on an appliance timer, so it only comes on every couple of hours or so. The novelty of it only being on some of the time seems to entice the kitties over for a look-see, even if they don't seem to drink much.

Also, keep it scrupulously clean. I take mine apart and run the pieces (I even do the filter) through the dishwasher regularly. The cats tend to avoid it when it smells even a little funky or gets floaties in it.

My cats still prefer licking the faucets, playing in the water cooler, and drinking from the dog bowls to the Drinkwell, however.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:30 AM on September 15, 2008

What worked for me - I can't say why, but who can tell what's in a cat's wee mind? - was moving it away from the food, into another room (food's in the laundry room, fountain's in the kitchen). My cat's on wet food too.
posted by nicwolff at 7:59 AM on September 15, 2008

I think different cats have different levels of interest in drinking from a fountain versus still water in a bowl. I bought a Drinkwell years ago, inspired by my cat's fixation with drinking out of the bathroom sink. She loved the Drinkwell and would drink the falling water right off the spout. Years have passed and that cat has passed away, and my current cat will occasionally drink out of the bowl of the Drinkwell if I keep the flow turned down low (I think it unnerves her a little) and the water is super-fresh, but she is mostly interested in drinking out of a different bowl I keep in another room.

Nthing the "clean it regularly" suggestion -- mine gets pretty funky pretty quickly if bits of kibble get stuck in the filter, or if enough time passes for algae to accumulate in nooks and crannies.
posted by aught at 9:43 AM on September 15, 2008

My cats prefer to have the water dish set away from where the food is. I haven't had any specific experience with the Drinkwell (I have an orange disaster cat who loves to sploosh in the water & there would be more water on the floor than in the cat with it.). Also - cats will get up to 3/4 of their daily water intake from wet food - so if their not drinking then it's probably OK.
posted by machine at 12:26 PM on September 15, 2008

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