The Story Behind Drinkwell Fountains

"Inventions are rarely just a sudden bright idea," says historian Richard Rhodes. "Even if they are, they usually have antecedents in the form of pieces of the idea... Piecing these things together gives one a sense of where inventions come from and that's interesting."

For Dr. Mary Burns, the inventor of the Drinkwell Pet Fountain, her first (and most successful) invention, came from the result of applying her ingenuity to the love of her cat. As the story goes, Mary had a very pesky furry feline who flat out refused to drink from normal drinking bowls. Like many cats, her companion Buckwheat would only drink out running water faucets. This typical behavior for cats is actually a part of their natural instinct to drink from running water sources to ensure clean water.

Unfortunately, Buckwheat's drinking habit was causing some problems at the Burns household. A loud running faucet and an expensive water bill was becoming increasingly bothersome for Dr. Burns, so she dedicated herself to creating a solution.

Meeting Dr. Mary Burns

Dr. Burns finished her undergraduate in Medical Technology at West Liberty State College in West Virginia and graduated from Ohio State University (OSU) College of Veterinary Medicine before 1990. According to her bio, she completed externship in behavioral studies at the Veterinary College in Georgia during her senior year at OSU.

As an animal lover and a licensed veterinarian, she had a practice that specialized in the behavior of animals. From there, she went on to teach as an associate professor at a university in Reno, Nevada until financial cutbacks sent her looking for a new career; an inventor.

At home she had developed an interesting little invention for Buckwheat. Still plagued by her cat's fussy behavior, Dr. Burns put together the first ever Drinkwell Fountain.

Assembly of the fountain was fairly simple. There are only a few parts including the lid, filter, housing, base, and pump. The pump is electrically powered and keeps water flowing into the base of the bowl. Plus, to make sure her pet was getting the cleanest water possible, the water goes through a filter.

Starting a Legacy

In 1994, Dr. Burns went public with the Drinkwell Pet Fountain. Within a few short years, the pet fountains had become the most popular water bowls for cats and dogs on the market. As an added bonus, tests have shown that her invention leads to animals drinking more water, thus preventing illnesses and health problems in pets. According to vets, increasing the water intake for animals has the following advantages:
  • Promotes healthy kidneys and helps eliminate toxins
  • Prevents urinary disease and UTIs
  • Speeds recovery time for sick pets
  • Increases metabolism

"After a painful experience with UTI and bladder crystals, our vet told us our kitty would need to be fed prescription diet for the rest of his life. What a bummer. We heard about the Drinkwell Pet Fountain and invested in it for our kitty's health." Says Caleb R. "Our kitty started drinking copious amounts of water, no prescription necessary! I am now a big advocate. Who would want to drink out of a dirty, stagnant bowl anyway? The filtered, aerated water from the Drinkwell is fresh and great."

Today, the Drinkwell Pet Fountain is available in dozens of different styles and shapes. From a large dog fountain to a Zen fountain, there is something for any pet owner with a cat or dog. Plus, all of the fountains are easy to maintain and clean, so you can ensure that your pet will be receiving sparkling water for years to come, even if you have a pesky drinker like Buckwheat.

If you're looking for a Drinkwell Fountain, be sure to ask the pet experts at by calling 800-957-5753. The animal lovers are more than happy to answer any questions about any of the pet products that we carry in our catalogue.

By Sean Bowes
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