close up of a tabby cat drinking from a cat water fountain

Cat Stopped Drinking From Fountain – What’s going On?

Has your cat been using a water fountain happily and then suddenly gone off it? Has your cat stopped drinking from a fountain and now you are worried? Maybe you feel they are not getting enough water? This can be a concern for a cat guardian because a cat can’t go without water for long before they run into potentially serious problems!

We are going to run through the likely causes of this worrying change of behavior and see what you can do to remedy the problem and get your cat interested in the cat fountain again.

Why Have They Stopped Using The Water Fountain?

It is often difficult identifying why a cat has changed its behavior, particularly if they are in full health. Sometimes it is down to some ancient genetic instinct and other times it is about personality – curiosity, boredom, or territorial conflict. Here are some of the non-health-related reasons that your cat might have suddenly decided to give the fountain a wide berth :

Dirty Filter Changing Taste

Many pet drinking fountains come with charcoal filters that remove pollutants from the water as the water is pumped around the fountain. 

Some areas of the world add chlorine to the water, and other areas might just have peaty or hard water. These flavors might not be palatable to your cat.

Additionally, some filters are there to remove hair, dust, and other physical muck from the water. It is easy to forget when you last changed such a filter, but this could be the source of the problem.

Your cat might have just gone off the fountain because the filter needs changing out. Until the filter is changed, your cat might just think that water is dodgy and not worth the risk!

Your Water Fountain Is Past Its Best

close up profile of a calico cat investigating a cat water fountain

Have you had the fountain for years? Is this why your cat’s abrupt change of behavior is so strange? Maybe your fountain is on the way out and your cat just spotted it before you!

It could be that with age the motor and pump on your cat water fountain have gotten noisy and this is irritating or putting your cat off. It could be that as the water level drops the noise of the worn components just changes, almost imperceptibly to us, but noticeably to your cat, and they just don’t feel comfortable around it anymore.

Perhaps it is a plastic fountain that is scratched up with age? Scratches in plastic can harbor odors that might put your cat off. Your fountain might have just reached the end of its useful life as far as your cat is concerned!

Location of the Fountain 

Simply changing the location of the fountain, even by just a foot, can make all the difference to your cat. Putting something new in the location or in close proximity to the fountain can also be enough to raise suspicions in your cat.

Have you relocated the fountain? Maybe it is now overlooked, in an ambush corner or just in an area of high footfall. All these mundane factors could be putting your cat off and are worth considering.

Cat Took Fright Whilst Using The Fountain

Maybe your cat got a shock whilst using the water fountain and decided not to repeat the experience? They might have seen an interloper out of the corner of their eye whilst using the fountain or potentially got attacked whilst using the fountain and now blame the fountain and won’t go near it.

Perhaps the fountain ran low and hissed, spat and gurgled at them? Your cat might think it has had a close encounter with an aggressor. Is your cat frightened of the fountain having been at ease with it for years before?

Water Temperature 

Your cat might have an issue with the temperature of the water in the fountain. As the water level drops the ambient temperature of the water might be changing. Your cat might have decided it does not like the warmer water – only cool fresh water will do! If you have noticed that your cat has stopped using the fountain in the summer this could be the issue.

a cat drinking from a kitchen tap

Regular Cleaning

Your cat might be really picky. You might think you wash the fountain regularly but your cat might expect higher standards! Alternatively, you could be washing the fountain too often and leaving odors of detergent on the fountain, and putting your cat off! No one said this was going to be easy…

In fairness, plastic does have a tendency to hold odors and a lot of water fountains for cats tend to be made from plastic to keep costs down. It could be that the fountain needs regular deep cleaning a little more often than might be obvious to you!

What To Do If Your Cat Won’t Drink From The Fountain.

Looking at the potential causes it is clear that you are going to have to do a bit of investigative work to get to the root of the problem. Once you have identified the cause you can then see if you can get your cat interested in the drinking fountain again. Here is what I would do:

  1. See if your cat will drink from anywhere – a normal bowl, puddle, pond or faucet, anything. If they are drinking elsewhere you know they haven’t got a health problem, just a fountain problem!
  2. Assuming they are drinking elsewhere and just don’t like the fountain, see if they will drink from a non-running fountain. If they do, they haven’t got a cleanliness or location issue with the fountain. They probably have a noise or splashing issue that has upset them.
  3. If they won’t drink from the fountain, even when it is not running, they have either a location or cleanliness issue or both.
  4. If they are drinking from a still fountain then you can try easing them back into using the fountain with running water by turning on the fountain at a slow flow compared to previously if your fountain has such controls. This might be enough to reduce noise issues or splashing problems – but at this stage, you might be looking at a new cat water fountain that is quieter or resigning yourself to the fact the fountain has had its day but is still a useful drinking bowl!
  5. If they just won’t use it, even when it is off, start cleaning! Change the filter if you can and give that bowl a really good rinse. It is said cats have a sense of smell x14 stronger than ours, so be thorough!
  6. Still no go? Think location. Has anything changed in the water bowl location that your cat might find off-putting? Have you got a mat under the fountain that needs cleaning, is the fountain near a window that might have had a stray cat pass by? Are accesses still clear or has new furniture been placed nearby? Any of these issues might be affecting your cat. If you have to, relocate the fountain to a new spot –  where should a cat’s water fountain be placed? Away from food, litter boxes, or noisy appliances and not cornered if possible, your cat might just want to change the waterhole location for variety.
  7. At this stage hopefully, you have the problem sorted and they are willing to go to use the fountain. The next potential issue is do they take a drink and then abandon the fountain? This could be a temperature change as the water warms after being poured in – at this stage try adding some ice cubes to the pond or they might want the water changing more frequently.
close up of a cat drinking from a large dish tongue out


Perhaps you have noticed that your cat is just not drinking, even from a faucet or puddle. What do you do if your cat stops drinking water? If your cat stopped drinking water altogether see a vet – could be a serious underlying issue that needs resolving. Most cats that fall out of love with their fountain will still drink from other spots. Not drinking is really dangerous. Dehydration can lead to kidney damage in cats.

If they drink, but too infrequently for your tastes then try to feed them wet food or add water to their dry food. Cats naturally get most of their moisture requirement in the wild from their food – in fact, they drink infrequently in the wild. 

If your cat is on a wet food diet and doesn’t seem to drink much, bear in mind wet food can provide them with as much as 80% of their daily water requirement. 

Finally, don’t just rely on one water location, put additional water bowls around the home. Sometimes the need for a drink is so fleeting they won’t unless the water is on the spot the moment they feel the urge!