Automatic Cat Water Bowl – 2 Types

The first style of automatic cat water bowl under review here is the gravity fed type. Water is contained in a vessel attached to a small bowl. As water is depleted from the bowl it refills from the larger container until filled.

The second and by far the most common type is the recirculation fountain containing a small pump. We look at the gravity fed automatic cat water bowl first.

Shown here is one brand out of many but which has most of the same features of the others and it is very simple. Basically this water dispenser is comprised of a reservoir that holds the water and a bowl into which the water flows by force of gravity as the volume in the bowl lessens.

There are several advantages to this design of automatic water bowl:

  • It is relatively easy to maintain. Because there is no pump, there is no cleaning or replacing one. Though generally pumps are not difficult to clean or replace that is one more thing you needn’t concern yourself with.
  • The fairly large reservoir allows you to be gone for a couple of days without your pet running out of water.
  • The see-through reservoir makes it easy to know when to refill it.

There are also several disadvantages to the gravity fed automatic cat bowl.

  • It is made entirely or largely of plastic which by now almost everyone knows is unhealthy for your pets. If you don’t know about that here is a link which explains why pastic as a water source is bad for cats. Some brands have a stainless steel liner in the bottom bowl which can be removed and put in the dishwasher but the greater portion of the unit is plastic and that is what the water sits in.
  • Unattractive. Though some brands claim their gravity fed automatic cat water bowl is attractive and adds to your home decor most people disagree, although some brands certainly are more attractive than others.
  • The primary reservoir requires frequent scrubbing to reduce biofilm (slime) build up. The manufacturers, (actually they are manufactured in factories in China so the people who pay to have these made), claim that they are not harmful to cats in that they don’t have BPA in the plastic. That still leaves, however, the fact that plastic is absorbant, bacteria will enter and colonize and biofilm buildup will become a problem. This an be remedied with frequent cleaning with bleach.

Recirculating Automatic Cat Water Bowls

For most people this term refers to Cat Fountains and that is the other and primary type of automatic cat water dispenser.

A cat fountain, or automatic cat water bowl is comprised of a vessel in which sits a recirculating pump that pumps the water from its source to something which permits the water to become accessable to your cats. This can be anything from a simple bubble-spout to a device providing multiple streams falling into a bowl. As with the gravity fed dispensers, there are pros and cons to this type of cat waterer. First, the negatives:

  • These types of cat fountains have an aquarium grade recirculating pump and this requires regular, though not necessarily frequent, cleaning. How often depends on the brand of cat fountain, what it is made of and the nature of its filtration system.
  • Eventually the pump will need replacing. This need not be a hardship. In most cat fountains of this type the pump is fairly easily replaced and not very expensive. How often it needs replacing will again depend on brand. They should last at least five or more years and be warrented for a year.
  • As with the gravity feed type, if the fountain is made of plastic it will require a lot of scrubbing.
  • Expense. A good quality cat fountain with a recirculating pump is considerably more expensive than the gravity feed type, though it is possible to buy quite inexpensive plastic cat fountains in the same price range.

The advantages of a recirculating cat water fountain:

  • Recirculated water stays fresher, is more oxigenated and more attractive to cats so they drink more. This is critical as one of the primary cause of feline sickness comes from not drinking enough.
  • Another attribute of this type of automatic cat water dispenser is that the sound and sight of moving water attracts cats. They are hard-wired to seek moving water because in nature that is safest so this too encourages better hydration.
  • Easy cleaning, if not made of plastic. True ceramic cat water fountains are simple to clean – warm soapy water is all that is needed, about once a week. Do be careful though that it is high-fired, not porous ceramic.
quite cat fountain
ThirstyCat Fountains