CattyCorner: Don’t Forget To Clean The Pump On Your Cat’s Water Fountain

Written by: Kelli Brinegar
For more than five years, Kelli Brinegar has been using her ability to write and her passion for research to tell the tale of what cats are thinking and why. She has provided care to more than 30 cats in her lifetime.Read more
| Published on February 2, 2022

Greetings, my pawsome human minions.

It’s your tabby of tutelage, Forrest Wisewhiskers, back again with a slimy subject.

Water slime is a problem that plagues cat water bowls across the world, mine included. Mom does pretty well with keeping my water fountain clean, and I’m thankful because watching the water pour forth and create a dancing lake across the bowl provides me much joy as well plenty of hydration. We felines are drawn to running water, so a fountain appeals to our natures, but when the flow went from that crystal rainbow to a lazy sluice in mine, I was not a happy kitty.

Now, as I said, my mother is good about keeping the fountain clean, but the low flow of water signaled a problem. So, I drew my mother’s attention to the issue with mournful cries and plaintive staring aimed at both her and the struggling fountain. To my success, she gathered up my precious water fountain and went to work. I watched as she puzzled over the little pump in her hands, and suddenly, she had dissembled it into several pieces. And to both our disgusted surprise, the parts were thick with slime!!

Oh, The Slimy Horror

So, we know cleaning fountains, whether stainless steel, ceramic, or BPA-free plastic, is a simple process of washing up with hot water and dish detergent. Some cat parents also recommend letting an equal parts water and vinegar solution run through the fountain to help clear out and prevent water slime. The vinegar mix will help the buildup inside the pump as well, but that little booger still needs to be taken apart and cleaned thoroughly every two weeks, or at least once a month.

Now, what’s the best way to clean the pump in your cat’s water fountain?

Start by gathering your tools. Fountains usually come with a set of small brushes and tools to help clean their parts. If yours didn’t, you can pick up an inexpensive set from online retailers. Cotton swabs will work in a pinch because you need something small to get into those tiny spaces.

Once you’ve got your gear, unplug and empty the fountain of water. Then, grab that pump and take it apart. This includes pulling out the propeller. Be prepared with tweezers when it comes to plucking out the propeller. I bring you this advice because Mom’s vocabulary became quite colorful while trying to pinch it out of the housing.

Once you’ve overcome the shocking horror at the slime buildup, grab your tools and get to cleaning. Using warm water and soap, carefully clean all the nooks and crannies of the disassembled pump. This includes carefully inserting one of the small brushes or a cotton swab into the tube where the propeller fits. That little hole gets gross, too, and will slow down the propellors’ ability to create water flow.

Once you’ve soaped away the nastiness, rinse all pump parts with clean water and reassemble. Fill up the bowl and plugin for a water flow that’s been restored to its full flow glory!

You can also check out the video below to get a visual guide to cleaning the pump. But once the fountain is clean and flowing, you must remember the most important thing of all… don’t forget to feed the cat!

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