Review by Karl S. Chwe:
My aging cat, like many others, needs to be encouraged to drink as much as possible. I read lots of reviews for cat fountains, and decided on this one (there are basically two other options that I know about.)
I have a pergo floor that isn’t impervious to water, so I varnished a thin 2′x2′ piece of plywood to set the fountain on, to catch any random splashes.
Maisie wasn’t sure about the thing at first, though maybe the smell of the varnish was putting her off. After a few days she has taken to it fine. I don’t know if she LOVEs it, as other owners have claimed, but she does use it, which is all I could reasonably expect.
- It is quiet. The motor is virtually inaudible. I don’t know why some other people complain about the humming or buzzing noise. I don’t hear a thing, and mine is sitting on a hard floor (on top of a sheet of 1/16″ plywood.) It can make a trickling watery sound at the high setting, but apparently some people like the sound, and anyway turning down the flow almost eliminates it.
- It holds a fair amount of water. I don’t have to worry about it going dry every few days as I did with the old water bowl. So Maisie always has water to drink.
- Doesn’t splash water everywhere. In fact it doesn’t splash at all. The water has a landing ramp that lets it down easy.
- Stable, not easy to tip over.
Not so good:
- It does need to be refilled every few days, not because it will run out of water, but because the impeller pump sits a fair distance above the bottom of the drinking bowl, so there has to be a fair amount of water in the bowl so the impeller (like a little paddle wheel) isn’t spinning in air. The pump will complain then, making a sucking, thrumming sound. If the water level falls too low, the pump will run dry and possibly burn out, even if there is still water in the bowl.
- It isn’t that easy to clean. I clean mine every week or so, which seems to be often enough. It doesn’t take me 30 minutes as it does another reviewer, more like 10. I don’t have the problem with cat hair (I brush Maisie twice a day) but I do get a bit of brown or pink slime (just as I did with an ordinary water bowl.) That is anaerobic bacteria, just like you get on the lower edge of your shower curtain, and it isn’t dangerous to your cat. But it is icky.
The fountain was designed with absolutely no thought to making it easy to clean. There are several nooks and crannies that are hard to reach and would have been easy to eliminate. For example, in the water reservoir there is a deep, round cavity about 1/2″ in diameter and about 4″ deep, closed at the bottom. It serves no purpose other than to align the reservoir assembly with the base, and it is continuously filled with water. To clean it well requires something like a test tube brush (long thin round brush with bristles on the end.)
So instead of cleaning it with a brush, I am experimenting with simply rinsing it with white vinegar, which should kill most of the bacteria, and unlike dishwasher detergent or spray cleaners, it leaves no residue and especially, no odor (once it is rinsed away.)
Or I may just use the dishwasher. The fountain is top-shelf safe, but a different plastic would have made it anywhere-safe. Also, it would be hard to position it so that it won’t collect dishwasher water (with little bits of coffe grounds, etc.) somewhere inside.
For those reasons, I give it four stars. The water filter is nice by the way, but it is quite thin and I don’t know that it does very much. Nor do I know if it is really necessary. It is supposed to remove tastes and odors, but there wouldn’t be much in tap water, and Maisie certainly doesn’t mind when she drinks from the faucet. Also, it filters water that has already passed through the pump. It would have made more sense to put a screen or filter in the water flow in front of the pump where it can keep hair out of the impeller.
Review by Derek Hofmann:
Some of the negative reviews indicate that the Drinkwell is noisy. The truth is, it’s only noisy if it doesn’t have enough water or if the intake valve is clogged (which so far hasn’t caused the pump to burn out for me). There’s a slight hum from the pump when it’s working correctly, but it will be much quieter than the other appliances in your kitchen.
Cat hair and cat food can both clog the intake. So to keep it in top condition, check the water level once every day or two (or get the add-on reservoir), place the Drinkwell several paces away from the food dish (so your cats aren’t tempted to moisten their food with it), and break down and clean the Drinkwell regularly, perhaps once a month when you change the filter cartridge.