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poofandmook's avatar

My cat is scared of the Drinkwell fountain... can I coax her into using it?

Asked by poofandmook (17277points) February 9th, 2010

Several months ago, I posted about my cat’s urinary issues… long story short, she needed to drink more water. She didn’t like standing water in a bowl, so I had the shower dripping into a bowl. I don’t like that… so I bought this stupid Drinkwell fountain. Well, the skittish cat, once I dipped her paw in the water, finally drank right from the stream of water. Win. The cat I needed the damn thing for appears to be scared of it, even though it’s really not that loud at all. Sounds like your average, everyday fish tank motor.

I tried sticking her paw in the bowl and in the stream and she fought and leapt and howled. I tried to just hold her in front of the bowl, and she didn’t fight, but she bolted the second I took my hands off her sides.

I need her to drink from this thing. Need, okay? NEED. Any ideas on how I can get her to be less scared? I put a bowl of water down (standing water, no dripping from anywhere) and she drank as soon as I did… but I don’t think that will last long, as she was dehydrated before because she doesn’t like standing water.

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31 Answers

Trillian's avatar

I have a cat who insists on drinking water from a glass tumbler. For some reason, she likes to stick her head all the way in to drink. She also drinks from the toilet, floor after shower water, and puddles if we’re outside so that people think I don’t take care of her. Why? Because she’s just that way!
On the upside, I googled it and have a page full of links for cat bahaviourists. Hopefully, one of them will be able to help you.

gambitking's avatar

Cats like moving water, they really are uneasy about standing water, although most will drink it if raised on such a setup.

As for a whirring motor attached to it, this is a double-edged sword. 1) The cat associates that sound with hissing, which is naturally imbued as a big no-no, creating genuine fear, and the resultant reaction you saw when trying to force her near it. 2) If the cat relates the hissing fear of doom with her water/food area….then the whole process is that much more unpleasant…. you might find it difficult to recondition the animal without a big change to the setup.

So… possible solutions:

*Try a stainless steel bowl. Not only are they cleaner and more desirable than plastic or ceramic, but they create reflections, which might interest the cat – at least enough to get curious and paw at the bowl, get comfortable and maybe accidentally move the water around, further enticing her.

*put a small amount of cat food in the water and mix so that it’s a ‘soup’ of sorts. Not only does the smell tempt the animal, but hey – even if it has to ‘eat’ the water, it’s getting the hydration it needs.

*feed her a treat and pet her when you put the water down and she comes to you. Pavlov can’t be wrong.

marinelife's avatar

I am sorry, but I don’t think you can get her to drink from the fountain unless you remove all other sources of water, The smell of the water should attract her into it finally, but it may cause her urinary tract to act up again.

toknee's avatar

if you can control the flow of water maybe change the intensity of it, she may not just like how fast the water is coming out.

Also feeding more canned food in her diet which is a source of water may be a good thing as well

phoebusg's avatar

What @marinelife said, but in addition move her food closer and closer to it.

poofandmook's avatar

@marinelife: That was my initial thought. She will drink when she gets thirsty. Except a) I don’t want her issues to start again, and b) she’s a cat, she will do what she damn well pleases, including waste away to nothing from dehydration :(

row4food's avatar

My cat has the Drinkwell fountain, got it for Christmas. It took him a good week to go near it, and another week for him to try to drink out of it. How long have you had the fountain? Maybe she just needs time to explore it on her own.

Now he loves it so much, he tries to flip it over :)

tinyfaery's avatar

Give her time. Once she sees the other cat drinking form it and understands what it is she might lose her fear. Don’t take away the other water source. And put the trickle down as low as possible.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Maybe float a cat toy or treat in there or hold a swimming class for mice at your house.Good luck:)

marinelife's avatar

@poofandmook Yes, I agree. That’s why I said it reluctantly. I don’t think I would have the stomach for doing it myself.

DandyDear711's avatar

I bought one on ebay for the dog and cat to share (they share a standing dish…). Cat came running into kitchen after I set it up. She saw it and immediately put her brakes on. Almost left a trail of cat paw rubber. She never went near it. I finally sold it on ebay after several months. Sorry I didn’t help…

Hydrogenbond's avatar

Show her how to use it.

andrew's avatar

@poofandmook My vet suggested putting a little tuna juice (you know, that disgusting stuff from canned tuna) into the water. Hopefully your cat will nom it up.

gailcalled's avatar

Or juice from canned salmon. Milo practically levitates when I have some salmon in a green salad. I leave him the gravy.

Chez nous, I generate many options. The toilet just after having been flushed works well; so does the water left clinging to the sides of the tub after a shower. I have bowls and jars of different sizes filled with water and scattered around the house, including outside.

I even keep a small water bowl on top of the refrigerator; the novelty helps.

phil196662's avatar

We don’t use the drinkwell bowls, you have to clean them at least weekley to keep them running properly. If you don’t they become a breeding ground for slimy mold stuff that will make an animal sick.

We have ceramic bowls for our animals and the cats seem to like the coldness the clay gives the water and we also change the water in the bowl at least two times a day. They like the water fresh and will drink more, also if we are around the house we change it more often and if they go and sit by the bowl like they are asking for fresh.

we watch them dip there paws in the bowl and wash there faces as well as they come into the bathroom when we are showering so they can go in the tub as soon as we turn off the water, I have even grabbed them and taken them into the shower and all wet and after the first few times they don’t fret.

Bond with your animals and they will know your giving them the best care you can!

poofandmook's avatar

@phil196662: Read some of my earlier posts. Believe me, I am bonded with my cats :P

phil196662's avatar

sorry, I didn’t catch all of them, try multiple bowls because cats tend to like cool water more than moving.

poofandmook's avatar

I put her fresh water directly in front of the fountain… she drank from the normal bowl, but she kept looking up at the fountain. She’s definitely intrigued by it I think at this point, but cautiously. I held her right next to it and she didn’t freak out, but she still scurried away when I let her go. I will take that as slow progress, thankyouverymuch

tinyfaery's avatar

She’ll get there. Did you try the tuna juice?

phil196662's avatar

I don’t know, the things take so long to clean. ceramic bowl = dishwasher for me…

tinyfaery's avatar

You can put the Drinkwell in the dishwasher.

poofandmook's avatar

@tinyfaery: not in the Drinkwell… didn’t know if that would be okay running through the mechanisms. The regular bowl I haven’t left down so she’s drank a lot each time I put it back down.

phil196662's avatar

See, she doesn’t want the drinkwell. Don’t dehydrate your animal, just let her choose and it sounds like she wants her bowl- but changed regularly and cleaned…

poofandmook's avatar

@phil196662: I am not dehydrating my animal. She drank more when I had running water into a bowl, and it cleared up her crystals. A regular bowl of standing water is what caused her to get the crystals in the first place, even though I cleaned the bowl once a day and put fresh water in it three to four times a day… even though you seem to think I let water sit for days in a filthy bowl, apparently.

Please do not post here if you’re going to make accusations. You’ve not been here long enough to know anything about me or the care I give my animals.

tinyfaery's avatar

I lurve you poof!

phil196662's avatar

@poofandmook ; I was not trying to say “neglect”, just that she was showing a preference to her old bowl she probably misses it. Sometimes the noise it makes is frightening for them, I have a friend that as one and her cats did not like the noise when it sits on a counter top. the plastic on the tile makes a vibrating noise so she tried putting it on a towel so you barely hear it running! and it worked- you might try that…
And I seem to remember something holistic to put in the water to prevent crystals and other water-born organisms. hmmmmm If you have a holistic vet in your area you might want to call and ask.

It’s good to hear the crystals cleared up and _apologies again… bows in front of you bearing homemade chocolate fudge topped brownies

poofandmook's avatar

@phil196662: and if I got snippy, I apologize also. But there is nearly nothing in this world more important to me than those two furry lumps… I care for them better than some people care for their children.

phil196662's avatar

I believe you…the wife and I are the same way! our daughter humors us that we but the animals more toys than we buy her, our furry lumps even have there own room on the sunny side of the house with floor-to-ceiling climbing structures. but the niftiest thing I came up with is the third water dish cure- Motion-sensor water dish filler! Cat goes in the water dish area and the sensor turns on flushing the water out of the dish leaving fresh, new for drinking- only take 3 seconds and the cat is a foot away…

poofandmook's avatar


Ornery wench finally drank out of the bowl. I cleaned the bowl and the motor… but as I was rinsing out the filter, I noticed it just kept “shedding” little carbon particles. Thinking maybe that was the issue, I didn’t put the filter back in. Mookie was drinking out of it before I even got it plugged in, so of course, poofy cat had to see what was going on and as usual, tried to shove Mookie away so she could have a turn… by then, the motor was on and running, and she drank out of it. Win. Just in time for my vacation too… one less thing for their caretaker to worry about. Auto feeder, extra water reservoir… now if only the stupid Littermaid worked the way it should and didn’t dump all the clean litter into the bin… then he wouldn’t have to do a damn thing; they’d be all taken care of!

tinyfaery's avatar

Great news!

phil196662's avatar

Ahhhh- she knew something was there that should not be… Wonderful! once she really uses it you might consider purchasing a second so you can clean, dry and swap so it’s always clean and ready unless they want to watch you clean it making sure you do a good job! lol

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