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How Often Should I Change the Water in My Cat’s Fountain? Vet-Approved Facts

Ashley Bates

By Ashley Bates

cat looking at water dispenser with automatic gravity refill

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Alice Athow-Frost

Veterinarian, BVM BVS MRCVS

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Having a water fountain for your cat can be a godsend. Not only do cats seem to like drinking out of a fountain more than having a stagnant water bowl, but it can be much more convenient for you as well. If you’ve recently opted for a cat water fountain, you are probably looking for ways to ensure you are taking care of it properly.

In this article, we will discuss exactly what you can expect in terms of water fountain cleaning—and all the benefits of making that switch.


How Often to Change Water in a Cat Fountain

How often you need to change the water in a cat’s water fountain depends on several factors. Generally, you should completely change the water in the fountain every 3 to 4 days for multiple cats or every 5 to 6 days for an individual cat.

This is simply an average, and you might find you need to change it out more or less frequently depending on your living situation. If you have a long-haired cat, you might also notice a little hair build-up in the mechanism, which could lead to changing out the water more frequently.

Set a Schedule

Once you see how quickly your cat’s water fountain gets dirty, you can create a schedule. If you need to clean it every 2 to 3 days, schedule it on your calendar and commit to getting the job done.

Sometimes, it benefits people to have alerts or reminders set so you don’t forget. After all, there are a million tasks to accomplish daily, and sometimes, changing a cat’s water fountain can fall by the wayside.

cat drinks fresh water from an electric drinking fountain
Image Credit: Reshetnikov_art, Shutterstock

Visual Cues

If the water seems like it’s getting a little dingy or you notice some debris, it’s time to change the water out. You can often tell a lot by looking at the fountain itself.

Most cat water fountains have filters, so the water stays fresh for longer. But each cat water fountain can have a different timeline for changing the filter or doing a complete water exchange. But if you notice that your cat’s water fountain looks a little dingy, change it out regardless of the timeline.

hepper single cat paw divider

How to Change the Water in a Cat’s Fountain

Your water fountain might be very different from another on the market. To change out your cat’s water, it’s best to look at the specific instructions that came with your product. Some will be relatively easy to change, while others require dismantling.

If you have lost the instructions since purchase, check the description on the website. Care instructions are often listed with product information, regardless of if you’re purchasing from the brand website or a third party.

British short hair cat drinking from a cat fountain or dispenser because he is thirsty
Image Credit: Arwen Matthijssen, Shutterstock

Benefits of Cat Water Fountains

This article might help you in weighing up the pros and cons of getting a cat water fountain. If you’re still unsure, here are some benefits that might pique your interest.

1. Water Fountains Encourage Cats to Drink More Often

It’s no secret that our cats often do not drink very much water.  This is in part due to their natural physiology, having evolved from African wildcats (Felis silvestris libyca) who were adapted to low-water environments.  In our domesticated cats, those eating wet food will get almost all, if not all, the liquid that they require from their food.  However, even if they get all the fluid they need to survive from their food, it is known to be beneficial for them if we can get them to drink more water.  This is especially true in those cats that eat a dry kibble diet which contains very little moisture, and those with health concerns such as recurrent cystitis.

Having a flowing water source will captivate your cat, encouraging them to drink more at home. You could also do a few additional things to keep your cat hydrated, such as offering wet canned cat food on a semi-regular basis and increasing the number of watering stations available around the house.

black and white cat drinking from a water fountain
Image Credit: ErikGlez, Shutterstock

2. Allows Constant Access to Fresh Water

Have you ever seen a stagnant cat water bowl? It can get pretty disgusting! Your cats can leave remnants of food crumbs, debris from the floor, hair, saliva, and a whirlwind of other unmentionables behind in the water. Having a flowing, filtered water source allows your cat to always have access to fresh water.

The filtration system mentioned above is an added bonus, constantly filtering the water to make it as tasty and clean as possible.

3. Filters Out Potential Debris and Bacteria from the Dish

Water fountains flow through a system. They have a filtration device in the back that traps any debris, allowing the water to stay fresh for longer.

A stagnant bowl of water can be a breeding ground for all sorts of nasty things. If you don’t remember to change it daily, it can quickly become a problem. A water fountain will alleviate a lot of the problem—we think you’ll agree!

orange cat drinking water from the fountain
Image Credit: FotoLT, Shutterstock

4. Cat Water Fountains Save Time

We have so much to take care of these days. Most people have full schedules with little time to spare. It can get rather hectic changing out your cat’s water dish day after day. With a water fountain, you won’t have to worry about changing the water for several days at a time. It can save you the hassle and keep you happy in the knowledge that your cat has fresh and clean water available at all times.



Now you understand that how often you change your cat’s water out will depend on several factors. It might be a little trial and error at first. You might have to see how long it takes for the water to get dirty before you have a good indicator of when it needs to be changed out.

Remember that sometimes it can look clean even when it’s not, so always stick to a maximum of 5 days before cleaning out the water. If the water looks dirty but it hasn’t been longer than the allotted time the particular cat fountain brand recommends, change it out anyway. The fresher you can keep things, the better.

Featured Image Credit: Vershinin89, Shutterstock

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