Cats need easy-to-clean water fountain
August 1, 2012 12:20 AM   Subscribe

Need easy-to-clean pet water fountain for cats.

I need to get a water fountain for my cats but I am terrible at keeping those kinds of things clean. The main priority is that it be easy to clean. The easier the better. Water dishes seem to get gross and slimy really fast and I forget to clean them out, I am looking for something that will keep water moving and will be easy to clean. Leaving a faucet running is not practical in our situation. Recommendations?

Sorry, no pictures.
posted by HMSSM to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I just had to throw one of these out after less than a year because the pump had died. In the end I did so with a glad heart since it had been such a pain to maintain (as outlined here). The cat and dog have returned to drinking out of bowls and seem just as happy. Anyway: look for a system which allows you to rapidly take the feeder apart and put everything non electrical in a dishwasher. Look also for a supplier than can give you a replacement pump. If you have hard water you will probably also need to soak in a vinegar solution from time to time.

If I had to get another I would get one which was non plastic - like this.
posted by rongorongo at 12:48 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I use a small submersible aquarium filter in a 3 gallon bucket. It is not the most aesthetic bit of decor but it takes all of a few minutes to dissasemble, scrub clean, and refill. The filter I linked has suction cups that stick to the inside of the bucket; other similar filters have a hanger built into the back that you just hang over the rim of the bucket.
posted by jamaro at 1:00 AM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

I have been using jamaro's system for months and love it.
posted by MonsieurBon at 1:41 AM on August 1, 2012

I've had the stainless steel fountain from rongorongo's second link for just over a year. It only takes me a few minutes to clean it every other week or so. I haven't bothered to change the filters.
posted by kiripin at 2:16 AM on August 1, 2012

For cleaning, vinegar is your friend, followed by a good rinse.
posted by SillyShepherd at 3:30 AM on August 1, 2012

Have two drinking bowls and rotate daily, so that one is in use and one in the dishwasher every day?
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:52 AM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

I have a similar one to rongorongo's second link in black ceramic. The black color does allow you to see pretty easily if they're getting much particulate matter in there. The fountain itself is fairly easy to clean, although I had previously been living in a place with hard water and minerals did accumulate on the fountain over the course of about a year, they came off quite easily with a vinegar mixture. Otherwise I usually just pour out the water to get out the particles of (dust? cat food? or whatever) that have gotten into it and then I'll swipe over the dish with a soapy sponge, takes about 5 minutes every 2 months.

The pump is more tricky to clean since it is made of plastic and has some crevices in it, I probably scrub it to get some slimy-ish stuff off it about once every 3 months. I should probably be replacing the filter more frequently than I do.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:09 AM on August 1, 2012

I just gave this small one to a friend (we didn't need it anymore) and this is the one we use for our two cats.

Ceramic and stainless are better than plastic, which eventually just harbors germs no matter what you do. I wash the parts at least once a month. If I think it's really grimy I will soak it in a solution of white vinegar and hot water, and then scrub with soap. You may need q-tips or pipe cleaners to get at like, one spot on this thing. The rubbery bit where the water comes up into the top part is just small and hard to get to, but it's the only part.

For the pump, I take it out and while I'm doing all the other cleaning, I first rinse it really thoroughly with hot, hot, hot water (you will need kitchen gloves, clearly). Then I put it in a bowl of super hot water mixed with white vinegar and let it run during the cleaning process. It gets the gunk out.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:21 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think the major difficulty with every fountain I've tried (and there have been many) is the ease or not of cleaning the pump. I do the hot water and vinegar run in the sink suggested my Medieval Maven. I've been happiest with a stainless steel bowl, but actually have found it just as nice without the 'lid' and have just been essentially using a metal bowl with a small pump. I try to clean it once a week so it doesn't get too slimy. It is a pain at times, but the cats drink so much more when it's running that it is worth it. It saves me from having to keep them out of my water glasses all day long.

Rather than using the premade filters, I've used some aquarium filter floss, which is cheaper, or quilt batting (even less expensive). I gave up on the floss because so long as clean it regularly, there isn't much to filter out.
posted by gilsonal at 7:26 AM on August 1, 2012

We switched to a water fountain a few months ago on our vet's recommendation after our elderly girl had a bout with UTIs. I got the Petmate Deluxe, with the notion that if it "took" with the cats I might upgrade later (you may want to take that same path if you don't know if your cats are going to like it). My elderkitty went right for it and seems to love it (and definitely is drinking more, as the vet had hoped); younger kitty was scared of it for a while but seems OK now.

I've been quite happy with it. It doesn't seem to slime up very much--I don't know why we're not having the problems with plastic fountains that others talk about, but we're not. It makes a little noise if the water level gets low but is very quiet otherwise, so the noise just serves as a good reminder to keep it filled. Filter requires changing monthly, and everything is easy to dissemble and wash (although I'm glad I kept the assembly instructions for review afterwards!).
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:27 AM on August 1, 2012

Another +1 for the Pioneer Pet ceramic. We wash them weekly, no problems. The pumps eventually crap out, and I do wish I could find a higher quality alternative pump, but I haven't yet (and this problem isn't unique to the Pioneer Pet - every fountain we've bought has the same type of pump and same problem).
posted by primethyme at 8:16 AM on August 1, 2012

After going through two Petmate fountains and three replacement pumps, and hating the 20-minute workout to clean them, I bought one of these little submersible pumps and a large stainless steel bowl. Cleaning the fountain now is less than 5 minutes: rinsing the bowl, taking the pump apart, rinsing it, and changing its filter. Cats were skeptical for a day, and then took to it happily.
posted by angiep at 11:55 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I haven't bought one, but I've had my eye on these handmade ceramic cat fountains for awhile. Seller feedback says they are easy to clean, and I like that they are one of a kind. A bit pricy for anyone on a budget.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:51 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I got this one, which is plastic - and my cats love it. Maintenance is super easy.
posted by jeri at 11:31 PM on August 1, 2012

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