Veterinarian J. Eichenberg tells us: "Many cat owners are not even aware of the existence of cat fountains. Many of those who are, are unaware of the higher quality options available to them because the market is flooded with inexpensive and well marketed plastic and cheap stainless steel cat fountains. But far and away the best cat fountains available are ceramic cat fountains."


Here you can learn why ceramic is the recommend material for cat fountains.

Plastic Cat Fountains vs. Ceramic Cat Fountains

Apart from the severe environmental disasters caused by both the manufacturing of plastic as well as the attempt to dispose of it, plastic is a vastly inferior material for any product used for eating or drinking. Some of the additives that are infused into plastic can cause permanent harm to our pets’ metabolism. Chemicals such as phthalates and BPA are widely used as additives that prevents degrading of plastic, (why plastic products remain in the environment indefinitely) and they also interfere with our natural hormone levels which can cause serious problems for pets and humans. Those plastics which claim to be BPA-free frequently have an equally harmful alternative – a practice called ‘regrettable substitution’. This is never true for ceramic cat fountains. Below are a just a few of the many plastic pet fountains available.

ceramic cat fountains

Additionally, all plastic becomes scratched

and in the presence of water, those scratches become home to vast colonies of harmful bacteria which can, and do, cause a variety of feline ailments including chin acne, a painful and frequently very difficult to treat disease characterized by blackheads, pustules and open sores. Plastic fountains are also notoriously difficult to clean due to both the bacteria growth as well as to the build up of slime from the accumulation of biofilm and the many crevices and corners nearly all plastic cat fountains have and in which those bacteria colonize.

The Dishwasher Is Not The Answer

“A dishwasher’s heat can cause harmful chemicals such as phthalates and BPA to leach from plastics that contain them,” says Don Huber, director of product safety for Consumer Reports. Here is a quote from the Center For Disease Control and Prevention:

“Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more durable. They are often called plasticizers.”

The only way to deal with the harmful bacteria and biofilm that grow in plastic cat fountains is by frequent scrubbing with bleach, concentrated hydrogen peroxide or something similar. After scrubbing, the fountain must be very thoroughly rinsed to get rid of the odor or your cats won’t go near it.

ceramic cat fountains

Stainless Steel Cat Fountains

have few of the issues plastic cat fountains have.Generally, stainless steel cat fountains don’t become scratched and if they are made of all or mostly all metal they won’t harbor bacteria but be sure to examine them thoroughly to make sure there are not significant components made of plastic. Here are two commonly sold stainless steel pet fountains both of lightweight steel and one with considerable plastic.

There Are Many Classifications of Stainless Steel

Some stainless steel pet bowls made overseas have been found to contain lead and radioactive metals. There are also many thickness grades of stainless steel, so quality can vary. If too flimsy, they won’t last and may rust, even though they are stated to be rust-proof. It can be helpful to read some reviews, (though beware, up to 60% of these types of reviews on Amazon were paid for by shady third party companies or the manufacturers themselves). So when it comes to shopping on Amazon, just make sure to be extra vigilant and don’t take what is written  as gospel. It can be highly informative to watch videos on Youtube to see what owners of these fountains have to say and to see what they show.

Metallic Taste

Cats may or not be put off by the metallic taste of stainless steel fountains, and you may or not like the designs available. That said, stainless steel pet fountains are vastly superior to plastic fountains, but inferior to ceramic cat fountains.

stainless steel cat fountain

Ceramic Cat Fountains

when diligently & responsibly made, do not wear or oxidize, they can take heat and pressure and are resistant to chemical attack, they do not deteriorate in sunlight as does plastic and they exhibit extreme hardness. If properly made of quality materials and high fired to 2,232° F, the glaze penetrates into, binds with and becomes a part of the clay so it can’t wear off. It is an impervious, utterly non-porous glass skin which is inseparable from the clay body.

Equally as important, they do not become scratched so don’t harbor bacteria and they do not develop biofilm. There is no environmental impact from the creation of ceramic pet fountains and every component that goes into the creation of a ceramic cat fountain comes from the earth. A well made ceramic pet fountain is food safe and with reasonable care should last a lifetime.

There are Some Caveats However Concerning Ceramic Cat Fountains

A ceramic fountain is not 100% food safe if it contains any toxic elements such as lead or any toxic colorants, or if it has too much of any colorant (which can leach out). For the fountain to be durable the clay needs to be of a certain density. (A less dense clay and the use of lead which greatly lowers the melting temperature of a glaze, both lower firing costs). As none of this is regulated in many countries, none of this can be known for any Chinese or foreign-made ceramic cat fountain which does not certify food safeness.

Certifiably Food Safe Glazes For Ceramic Cat Fountains Made of Stoneware

If potters or ceramic studios in the United States do not make their own glazes they cannot verify if they are safe, as no ready-made wet or bagged glaze gives its recipe of ingredients, and it is impossible to know what is in them. Only by making the glaze can a studio know what and how much of what is in the glazes. This is the practice at ThirstyCat Fountains which is why we certify food safeness for our glazes as well as the durability of our stoneware vessels. (You can come to our studio and verify this for yourself.)

Easy To Clean

Another advantage to ceramic is that it is easy to clean, requiring simply warm soapy water and a sponge, but again, some caveats. If it is a lower class of clay/glaze, if the glaze is applied such that it is less smooth than it could be or if the fountain has a lot of corners or crevices, cleaning will be more difficult. (At ThirstyCats our glazes are sprayed on, giving a beautifully smooth surface.)


The only way to ensure that the ceramic cat fountain is of the highest quality

and is truly safe, is to know if the potter or ceramic studio employs strict oversite of the entire process of creating the fountains. As mentioned, the clay should be of stoneware or porcelain (both of which are quite dense but more expensive than lower grades of clay), the glazes need to be made from raw minerals for complete control over their ingredients, and the proportions of the various elements that go into the glaze need to be carefully determined according to guidelines established from testing by ceramics specialists for food safeness.


Cost of Creating The Ceramic Cat Fountains Cannot Be The Determining Factor

Also as mentioned, the fountains need to be fired to a very high temperature to ensure durability. The higher the firing temperature, the greater the cost of firing so expense cannot be the determining factor in choosing the clay, glaze and firing temperature. In fact, cost of creation cannot be the primary factor at all. Quality must be.

Variety of Designs

When you choose ceramic cat fountains, at least from ThirstyCats, you have the additional benefit of being able to choose from a great variety of designs. You’re not stuck with one or two models but can have a completely unique, one of a kind ceramic cat fountain only you in the entire world will have. By the nature of how we create our cat fountains, the craft of hand-throwing and hand-building, designs are essentially unlimited.


Designs of Ceramic Cat Fountains For Every Breed & Temperament

One of the many advantages to this is that we are able to make fountains for longhair and flat faced cats; short hair cats; cats that want a gentle, quiet fountain; cats wanting a prominent water display or a faucet or stream; aggressive cats; cats who want to tip over their fountain; very large cats or small cats and and just about any other sort of cats your cats might be. With our handmade cat fountains you can choose from an essentially endless variety of forms and colors to suit your personal tastes as well as your cats’ and to harmonize with your décor. And with ThirstyCats ‘Create Your Own’ option, and our Specialty Fountains you don’t have to wait till you see what you want, you can choose what attributes you want your ceramic cat fountain to have and we will make it.

Handmade Ceramic Cat Fountains Are Not For Everybody

Obviously our fountains are not for everyone. There are many people who would not begin to consider paying upward of $140 for a fountain for their cat. Though the investment would be very worthwhile in the long term, the upfront cost is for many prohibitive.


ThirstyCat Fountains are for those who appreciate beautiful ceramics, and more importantly, who must have the highest quality. These are the finest money can buy and we believe the most beautiful. In the long run they turn out to be less expensive than most but their upfront cost is not in reach of many cat owners. Regrettable but unavoidable – so much time and work goes into their creation. We are a small shop doing our best to bring you the highest quality and most attractive cat fountains worldwide at the lowest prices we can reasonably ask. And we thank You.

ThirstyCat Fountains