The Joy of Cleaning Cat Fountains

Cleaning cat fountains is never going to be joyful but it needn’t be the onerous, time wasting choir it too often is. We’ve compiled six videos of cleaning cat fountains using popular brands. We purchased them to discover for ourselves as well as to show you what cleaning and assembling them is really like. The seventh video is of cleaning a cat fountain from ThirstyCat fountains to give you something to compare the others to.

The videos were made in our ThirstyCats studio. Though we edited them to make them more viewable, some are still fairly long. We wanted to be thorough. Our studio is designed for other activities so the setting for the videos is a bit ‘home made’. It serves, however, to demonstrate this important aspect of cleaning cat fountains.

The Drinkwell 360

First up is the Drinkwell 360. This is mostly of stainless steel with some plastic components. The water flows in a pleasing manner and it has several options for the number and quality of streams your cats can drink from. Our primary issues with this fountain have to do with the plastic components and the assembly.

The plastic parts are the filter housing, the top and the clips that hold the center piece in place. This is also the most difficult part of the assembly for this cat fountain and makes cleaning the cat fountain difficult.

Cost of this fountain at the time of this writing is about $60 (about $40 for the all plastic model) and about $7 for a three pack of replacement filters which should be replaced, they say, about every2 weeks.

Note the fountain is said to rust after a short while and there is bacteria buildup around the plastic parts.

The Miaustore Cat Fountain

The Miaustore Cat Fountain is advertised as a  veterinarian recommended ceramic cat fountain with a lot of other qualities. This requires a bit of commentary. Veterinarians recommend fountains for cats. We found no specific veterinarian recommendation for this brand of fountain. 

The ceramics used are low-fire  meaning the clay is very porous and absorptive and should not be exposed to the hot, wet environment of a dishwasher. See this link.

Also, the glaze is of course low-fire which make it less durable and may not stand up to repeated dishwasher exposure or other use. The video shows the procedure for handwashing and assembling the fountain, which is how this fountain should be cleaned.

The claim that this fountain needs no filtration must also be questioned. Any pump submersed in water a cat drinks from needs filtration.

They also say their fountains:

  • Motivates pets to drink
    • All cat fountains motivate your pets to drink.
  • Recommended by veterinarians
    • Miaustore cat fountains have no specific recommendations from veterinarians. ThirstyCat fountains have several.
  • Handmade
    • In fact they are all slip cast, made by pouring slip into a mold. They are not handmade. You can learn the difference here. Only ThirstyCat fountains are completely handmade.

Why are we calling all this out? Because the realities of your product should be what sells them. Not misleading or false statements.

Cleaning the Catit Flower fountain

This is one of the least expensive, most popular and worst possible cat fountains, as far as your cats health is concerned, you can buy.

It is 100% plastic and unless you put it in the dishwasher, which is recommended against by various authorities (see this post), requires a great deal of scrubbing. Once it becomes scratched, which it will, and in those scratches bacteria will thrive, it will be nearly impossible to remove the slime buildup.

As the video demonstrates, there is a lot of plastic to scrub and the slime buildup is astonishing. Because the dishwasher is not a safe alternative, hand washing, and occasional use of a strong cleaning agent such as bleach is a must. Be sure to rinse very well after using bleach or your cats won’t go near it.

Said to have biofilm build-up and pump issues.

The Pioneer Raindrop Cat Fountain

This fountain is mostly stainless with a few plastic elements, most notably in the casing that holds the pump and filter. It creates a flowing, not a falling stream from which your cats can drink, as well as from the main reservoir. 

It isn’t a bad design if you and your cats don’t mind stainless steel. Like high-fired ceramics (fired to 2,232°F or higher) and unlike plastic and low fire ceramics stainless is not porous and does not generate biofilm (slime) buildup. However when there are significant plastic parts one need be careful as slime will build up on those parts.

Dry thoroughly to prevent rust as this is a very light guage of metal.

The AVP Spa fountain

We have very little to say about this fountain. The video will say it all.

cleaning cat fountains

Petsafe Multi-tier cat fountain

Nice idea here – an upper basin and a nice stream into a lower basin. The problems though are that it is 100% plastic, as are the Catit flower fountain and the AVP Spa fountain – (erroneously designated in the video as AVA) and all the corners and crevices that need thoroughly scrubbing because of biofilm buildup. 

Again, the dishwasher is not a good idea for the reasons specified in the Catit review above. (Specifically that harmful chemicals become more readily leached into the drinking water from exposure to the heat of the dishwasher.

This is another of the very inexpensive fountains (owing to the fact that they are mass produced in China and made of plastic), with a cost of around $30 at the time of this writing.  Filters are about $7 for three which you replace about every 2 or 3  weeks.

Note that it is said the pump becomes very loud even well before the water level drops to the fill point. It also has durability and leak issues.

ThirstyCat Fountain Cleaning

Warm soapy water, a sponge and about 4 minutes or so is what a ThirstyCat cat water fountain requires for thorough cleaning.

Because high-fired ceramics, such as ThirstyCat Fountains which are fired to cone 6, or 2,232°F,  is not porous there is no slime buildup. There are also no corners and crevices so access to all surfaces easy. 

Not shown in this video is the heavy duty foam filter which comes with every fountain. It only needs thorough rinsing and should last a year or more.

The upfront cost of a ThirstyCat fountain is relatively high but what you gain in ease of cleaning, infrequent filter replacement, quality and beauty and the lack of vet bills more than compensates, or so many of our customers say.

ThirstyCat Fountains are recommended by a number of veterinarians, some of whom keep our brochure in their clinics. You’ll find some of this stated in the reviews.

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