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8 DIY Cat Water Fountains You Can Build Today (With Pictures)

Cats aren’t completely similar to humans, but we are similar to our feline friends when it comes to water consumption. Generally, the more water we consume, the better it is for us. Cats especially need to be drinking adequate amounts of water to prevent bladder problems, which they are prone to.

A 10-pound cat needs 7-9 ounces of water per day. In the wild, they get this amount from catching and eating prey. The problem is, at home, it’s difficult to get cats to drink from a bowl. Drinking water out of a standard bowl is not their favorite thing. The solution? Water fountains for cats!cat face divider 2

Why Some Cats Like Running Water

Cats prefer to drink from a running tap, which is why your kitty might jump up next to the kitchen sink or meow at you when you turn it on.

There are several reasons for this:
  • To a cat, stagnant water = dirty water. Standing water is a harbor for bacteria that can make a cat sick.
  • Water only tastes fresh in a bowl for a little while.
  • A cat’s whiskers can touch the edge of a water bowl while drinking, causing irritation.

A water fountain for your cat can avoid all of these issues. Some drink more water when a fountain is present. They will be able to hear the sound and want to check it out. A cat is able to drink freely from a fountain, any time he likes, without getting his whiskers in the way.

Are Water Fountains Safe for Cats?

Water fountains are safe for cats so long as they:
  • Get cleaned thoroughly and regularly,
  • Are made from non-toxic, food grade materials,
  • And the pump is safe for water submersion.

When a water fountain becomes dirty, bacteria grows and can contaminate the water, making your cat sick. Aim to clean the entire fountain once a week, also changing the filter as the packaging recommends.

You will want to make sure your cat fountain is made from quality materials. Plastic materials can be fine, but make sure they are free from BPA, which is known to cause cancer. The best materials for your cat fountain are glass, stainless steel, and ceramic, as they are easy to clean and the surface does not get damaged easily.

Do watch that the pump you select is appropriate for water fountains, and there are no dangling chords.

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8 DIY Cat Water Fountains

The good news is, you don’t have to purchase an expensive, pre-made cat water fountain, you can round up a few items and make one yourself! Take a look at these DIY Cat Fountains.

1. Glass Fish Bowl

DIY Water Fountain
Image Credit: PanEcats.com

A slightly ironic but extremely practical water fountain is this one made from a fishbowl and aquarium pump. The setup is very easy: just fill the bowl up a quarter way with decorative glass beads, set the pump inside, fasten it to the side of the bowl, then add water and turn it on.

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2. Stainless Steel Bowls

This cat owner came up with a brilliant cat water fountain that uses two stainless steel bowls, one small bowl turned upside down inside of a medium-sized bowl.

You can see in the video that, at first, the owner tried pumping the water directly on top of the water sitting in the bigger bowl. The kitten was a little skittish about this. So she directed the flow on the smaller bowl instead, which her kitty appreciated much more!

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3. Ceramic Bowl with Bamboo Spout

DIY cat paradise with this easy fountain hack
Image Credit: Chirpy Cats

One of the most beautiful cat fountains we found was this bamboo-spout fountain featured in this cats “catio” space. The water is pumped through the piece of bamboo and falls on to a dish of decorative rocks. Cats who love to drink out of the tap will love this fountain.

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4. Ceramic Pot Fountain

We’d like to imagine these cats liked to drink from the garden hose every time it was turned on. This woman cleverly came up with a way to make a cat fountain out of a big pot for plants. The pot is filled with water and filters the water with ceramic filter rings and activated charcoal contained in bags beneath the decorative rocks.

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5. Plastic Water Bottle Fountain

DIY Cat Water Fountain
Image Credit: Autodesk Instructables

Another clever cat owner turned a thrift store aquarium pump and a plastic water bottle into a cat water fountain. The owner was tired of giving the cat a drink every time he opened the fridge for some water, so they came up with this idea! As cool as it is, keep in mind that it may be difficult to clean.

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6. Bucket with Tubes

If you have adult cats who are able to reach up higher for a drink, this water fountain utilizes a basic water pump, bucket and siphoning tubes. This could be a great set up for a household with brand new kittens, as a water bowl with standing water poses a drowning hazard for them.

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7. Glass Bowl with Pump and Injector

An interesting variation on the glass fish bowl water fountain, this person used an injector to pump the water out in a bubble. However, the cats were too nervous to use this fountain. Even though it is a pretty design, nervous cats might not want to use it.

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8. PVC Pipe Fountain

When you’re a cat, it’s more fun to have an engineer as a cat mom or dad! This fountain is crafted especially for functionality and cat entertainment. Your cat can drink flowing water from the spout up top, or from the flowing water returning to the pump. Drinking water just got a whole lot more fun for cats!

While this design is very unique, keep in mind that all those tubes should be BPA-free and taken apart to be cleaned regularly.


Where Should I Put the Cat’s Fountain?

Your cat’s water fountain can sit in your cat’s catio or wherever your cat usually likes his water bowl. Definitely don’t put the fountain near the cat’s litter box, as cats do not like to do their business in the same area as their food and water.

Some cats will prefer to have their food and water sources farther apart. If you think the water might be too close to the food bowl, try moving it further away to see if your cat likes that better.

Cats can be very particular about many things, including the water they drink. The right water fountain can provide your cat with clean, fresh water.

Hepper stainless steel water fountain

We recommend Hepper's Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain, an easy-to-clean model with three different flow modes, a large capacity, and effective triple filtration. This minimalist fountain runs quietly and will fit right into your home.

At Excited Cats, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

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Cat Fountain Cleaning Tips

Now that you have your DIY cat water fountain made (and hopefully your cat is enjoying it), it’s essential to also know how to routinely clean it to keep it safe for your cat.

How Often to Clean Your Fountain

Clean the water fountain once a week. You will want to take it apart and wash it with warm soap and water. For tubes, get a straw brush and gently scrub away the insides. For hard-to-reach spots, grab a toothbrush to clean with. If you have multiple cats, you may want to up the cleaning to once every 3-4 days. Change the filter as often as the filter packaging explains and don’t forget to clean the water pump inside the fountain, too.

How Often to Change the Water

First of all, when the fountain seems low, simply top it off. There’s no formula when it comes to completely changing your cat’s water, however, when you start to notice white foam or bubbles on top of the water, it’s time to change it. This foam is organic matter (saliva, hair, etc.) that has dissolved in the water. Left too long and it will contaminate the water.

Can You Leave the Fountain On All The Time?

Yes, you can, as long as it doesn’t bother your cat. Consider, though, how much water your fountain holds, and how quickly the water runs out. You will not want the fountain running very low on water unsupervised.

This is because when the pump is running without enough water in the fountain, it can damage the pump beyond repair. This could be an annoying replacement to make. Avoid it by turning off your fountain when your cat does not use it.

cat drinking from fountain
Image Credit: Nana_Hana, Shutterstock

How to Help Your Cat Use the Water Fountain

Some cats will love the fountain right away, while other, more nervous cats might be hesitant.

Here are some tips to help your cat use and drink from the water fountain:
  • Keep the water fountain away from the litter box
  • Try putting it away from high traffic areas
  • Try putting it on the kitchen table or in the living room
  • Fill it up with water without using the pump for a few days
  • Take away other water sources for a day. If she does not drink, provide her with water again, to avoid dehydration
  • After not using the pump for a few days, try turning it on the lowest setting, then gradually increase to your desired strength
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A cat water fountain can be a great solution to get your cat to drink more and add a relaxing sound element to your home. The good news is, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a new one if you’re willing to put a little work and creativity forward. We hope your cat water fountain endeavors go well and your cat loves it’s new feature!

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Featured image credit: AltamashUrooj, Shutterstock