How To Train A Cat To Use A Water Fountain

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If you’ve just invested in a shiny new fountain for your cat, you’re probably really excited to see them using it. So, if they don’t take to it straight away, it might feel a bit disappointing. You might even worry that you’ve wasted your money on a product your cat won’t even use.

Don’t be disheartened. It can take cats a little while to get used to a pet water fountain, and their first reaction might be fear or indifference. Given some time, most cats will come around to the idea of using a water fountain. In fact, most end up preferring it.

Quick Overview


Cats aren’t naturally good at drinking enough water, and cats most tend to drink the absolute minimum.


Cats seem to prefer running water, so using a water fountain can encourage your cat to drink more.


With time and patience, it's possible to train most cats to love drinking from a pet fountain.

Do Cats Need a Water Fountain?

Many cats prefer drinking from running water sources, so a water fountain can help them drink more.

Water is crucial when it comes to life. From elephants to tortoises, most animals need to drink water regularly to survive. Unfortunately, cats aren’t naturally very good at drinking enough water, and most tend to drink the absolute minimum, meaning it doesn’t take much for them to become dehydrated.

Being in a constant state of “almost dehydrated” means that cats are more susceptible to kidney problems and it might also be related to urinary infections and cystitis.

If you’re a cat owner, you probably don’t see your cat drinking often, especially if they eat wet food. Even if you place lots of cat water bowls around the house, your cat might not seem very interested. If they go outside, they’re far more likely to drink some water from a puddle outside or the neighbor’s garden pond.

But have you ever turned on your kitchen or bathroom faucet only to be quickly accompanied by your kitty wanting a drink? Cats seem to prefer running water, so using a water fountain is the perfect way to encourage your cat to drink.

Also Read: The 8 Best Cat Water Fountains – And We Tested Them All

Which Cats Would Benefit From A Water Fountain?

Any cat that requires increased hydration can benefit from drinking from a pet fountain.

If your cat is prone to cystitis, urinary tract infections, urinary crystals, or a blocked bladder, increasing their water intake is one of the most important ways you can help. But, maintaining better hydration could also have a protective effect on the kidneys, keeping them functioning well for longer.

This means that all cats, especially those who are fed dry food, will benefit from drinking more. Even if the cat food you give your cat is wet, they could still benefit from drinking more.

How To Get A Cat To Use A Water Fountain?

If you want the best chance of success with your cat’s water fountain, it’s a good idea to do some preparation rather than just plonking the fountain down in front of them and hoping for the best! Following these steps should help:

1. Choose The Right Fountain

All pet water fountains are not the same, so do some research before choosing one.

Not all water fountains are the same. First, choose one that’s specifically for pets so that it meets safety standards. It’s also worth reading cat water fountain reviews before you make your purchase to make sure there aren’t any particular issues. For instance, cats can be very sensitive to noise, so if the water fountain makes a noise louder than a gentle hum it might not be a great option.

Also Read: What Can Cats Drink Besides Water?

2. Familiarize Your Cat With The Water Fountain

First introduce the fountain in the off position so your cats become used to it before you turn the motor on.

Before expecting your cat to take a drink from this new water source, place the water fountain somewhere they can see it and allow them to gradually get used to it. Don’t turn it on straight away, though. Once your cat is calm and accepting of the new feature, switch the water fountain on.

They might approach it and give it a sniff, if you’re lucky they might take a drink but don’t fret if they don’t. Once they’ve checked it out, they shouldn’t be too anxious around it and might be more open to using it.

Also Read: How To Stop Your Cat From Spilling Water Out Of Their Bowl

3. Choose The Right Location

Place your cat’s new fountain in an area that’s both easily accessible and quiet.

Once your cat is used to the drinking fountain, you’ll want to select a permanent home for it. This might take some trial and error, so don’t worry if your first choice of location turns out to be wrong.

Choose an area that your cat can reach easily, but make sure it’s away from the footfall. An easy starting spot is next to their food bowl. Your cat is more likely to use a water fountain if they feel safe and calm, and make sure it’s not right next to their litter box.

Also Read: Why Is My Cat Drinking A Lot Of Water?

4. Make Your Cat Feel At Ease

Cat drinking with tongue

It can take some cats a little time before they take a drink from a new fountain.

Using pheromone sprays or diffusers nearby should help attract your cat to the water fountain, and help so they don’t feel anxious or on edge. If your cat isn’t showing much interest and you’ve tried a few different locations, you could try using catnip to get their attention.

Using your hand to make splashes in the water might also help your cat work out what the new contraption is for.

Also Read: 10 Reasons Why Cats Put Toys In Food Or Water Bowls

5. Freshen Up Daily

Dump and refill your cat’s water fountain daily, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning it.

Water doesn’t taste as good if it’s old, and it’s also a health risk. If you want to encourage your feline family member to drink, provide fresh water daily (or more often) and keep the fountain clean by following the manufacturer’s instructions to remove any buildup.

Also Read: Why Do Cats Like Faucet Water?

6. Provide Rewards

Treats and other positive reinforcement can help induce a cat to use a water fountain.

The mainstay of most training is providing positive reinforcement. This means giving plenty of praise and positive feedback for good behavior and ignoring bad behavior. So, if you’re trying to get your cat to use a water fountain, start by providing a treat, giving some attention, or verbally praising them each time they look at or approach the fountain.

They’ll start to associate the fountain with feeling good and will be more likely to repeat this behavior. Over time you can provide a treat when they touch or sniff the fountain, and then finally when they use it. Continue to provide praise or something tasty after each time they drink for a few days to cement the habit.

Also Read: The 7 Best Cat Treats For Training

7. Try Flavors

Wessie inspects the Petlibro Capsule fountain

A small amount of cat-safe flavoring might be all a cat needs to finally start drinking from a new fountain.

If you’re finding that, despite your best efforts, your cat isn’t showing any interest in drinking from the water fountain, you could try using something to flavor the water, like spring water from tinned tuna. Before you do, though, make sure what you’re adding is safe for your cat and won’t break the fountain or void any warranty.

Also Read: Petlibro Capsule Automatic Cat Water Fountain Review

8. Try Bottled

Like some people, some cats prefer the taste of bottle water.

Depending on where you live, you might use bottled water already. However, if you live in an area where you get drinking water from the tap and your cat won’t drink it, you could see if they prefer bottled. This method might be expensive, but different levels of minerals in bottled water brands may mean your cat likes the taste.

9. Don’t Force It

Cats will pick up on your energy, so don’t put too much pressure on them to use a new fountain.

Cats don’t like to feel pressured. If they feel like you’re making a big deal out of the water fountain, they’re less likely to use it. You might even cause them to feel stressed and anxious. So, stay calm and relaxed, avoid punishing them and keep the vibes positive.

What If Your Cat Is Drinking Too Much?

If you’re worried your cat is drinking too much water, talk to your vet.

The main purpose of using a water fountain for cats is to increase their water intake. However, after an initial period of adjustment, the amount they drink should remain pretty stable.

So, if you’ve been using a water fountain for a while and then suddenly notice that your cat is back and fore drinking a lot, it could be a sign of an underlying disease. Increased thirst can be caused by diabetes, kidney disease, and liver disease, so you should always speak to a veterinarian if you’re concerned.

Also Read: 7 Cat Breeds That Actually Like Water

How To Clean A Cat Water Fountain, Pump And Filter

In Summary

In time, most cats will learn to love drinking from a pet water fountain.

Cats love to drink from flowing water rather than standing water, so a running or dripping tap is their idea of heaven. You can recreate this with a water fountain, which will help increase the amount of water your cat drinks and reduce the risk of kidney and urinary issues.

However, just because cats like running water, doesn’t mean they’ll take to a water fountain straight away. With time and patience, and the tips above, you should be able to train them to love it.

Also Read: Why Do Cats Hate Water as Much as They Do?

Frequently Asked Questions

Will my cat get used to a water fountain?

Cats usually get used to water fountains, but it takes time. Reward them with a treat when they show interest in it and make sure it’s in a location where they feel safe.

Why won’t my cat use her fountain?

A cat might not use a water fountain when it’s brand new because it smells strongly of plastic or cleaning chemicals. Leave the fountain somewhere your cat can see it and allow them time to get used to it.

Do cats like water fountains better?

Cats tend to prefer drinking running water, so water fountains can work well. Choose one that’s not too loud and make sure that you spend lots of time praising them when they use it.

Do cats prefer a water bowl or fountain?

When it comes to water sources, cats usually prefer a water fountain over a water dish, because the water is moving. You might also find they enjoy drinking from the tap for the same reason.

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About Dr. Hannah Godfrey BVETMED MRCVS

Hannah graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, UK in 2011 and began work straight away at a busy mixed practice. Initially, she treated all species, but as the small animal hospital became busier, she focussed on small animals. She has a passion for soft tissue surgery as well as canine and feline dentistry, having completed additional training in both areas.

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