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It is in your pet’s nature to drink from a stream, so many cat owners opt for a water fountain. However, pet fountains can accumulate bacteria and hard water deposits that will require regular scrubbing. The pet care guide below explains the importance of cleaning your cat’s fountain and how to do so properly.

What Happens When a Fountain Gets Dirty?

Over time, you might start to notice a cloudy film developing on the surface of the water, which is known as biofilm. It does not come from the fountain itself, but rather your cat’s tongue. The bacteria from their mouth then sticks to the container and accumulates. If your fountain is scratched, bacteria can take shelter in these crevices and thrive. 

The National Sanitation Foundation found that pet bowls are the fourth most germ-filled area of the home. Bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli in food and water bowls can cause several problems, including chin acne and illness.

In addition to bacteria, people who live in areas with hard water will have to deal with hard water deposits that leave a chalky residue around the inner rim of the bowl, which can be tough to clean. If your cat water fountain has a filter, you can prevent these rings, but the filter will get dirty faster due to the mineral deposits, causing a blockage.

How Do You Properly Clean a Cat Fountain?

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In order to keep your feline healthy, you should routinely wash the fountain's water container every day with soapy water and sanitize the base once a week. This can be done in a dishwasher on high heat with a detergent containing chlorine bleach. 

If you don’t have a dishwasher, make a disinfecting solution by mixing 1/2 cup bleach with a gallon of water and soak the empty fountain for 10 minutes. Rinse it thoroughly and allow it to air dry. Remember to unplug the fountain, disassemble the unit, set aside the motor, and remove the filter before sanitizing.

Are There Other Cleaning Methods for Different Materials?

Plastic is the most common material for cat fountains. Ceramic fountains are less likely to be damaged by your cat, but harsh cleaners and abrasive scrubbers can scratch the surface and invite bacteria. Instead, apply distilled white vinegar to mineral deposits and allow it to soak. Sprinkle on baking soda, gently scrub with a soft scouring pad, and rinse. For stainless steel fountains, use an acid-based cleaning agent to get the surface shining like new.


For quality pet care advice and wellness services, schedule a visit with Baraboo Valley Veterinary Clinic. Serving Sauk County, WI, and surrounding the areas since 1995, this team offers a wide range of veterinary services focused on keeping your pet happy and healthy. Contact the clinic at (608) 355-2882 to set up an appointment with a veterinarian. For more information about their services, visit them online

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