Cats are finicky at the best of times, but when it comes to drinking enough water they really don't seem to know what's best for them. Chances are you don't either. But a Taiwanese startup called Noacare believes it can sort both parties out with a smart water fountain. This new fountain, Pura, syncs with a tag on your cat's collar and an app on your smartphone to keep you up to speed on your feline friend's water intake so that you can prevent health problems before they occur.
Domestic cats evolved from various desert-dwelling species, which leaves them with a low thirst drive. But a typical house cat's diet is very different to that of her ancestors, who mostly ate live (and water-rich) prey, and she likely gets far less water from eating her biscuits and canned food than she thinks. Cats are thus vulnerable to dehydration, which can lead to urinary tract disease, kidney disease, bladder inflammation, and related problems that are less serious.
For some cats, the fix is easy: just fill a bowl with fresh water every day and they'll drink what they need. For others, it's a bit trickier. Many cats prefer to hunt for fresh running water, which basically means drinking directly from a tap or fountain (or, if they're anything like my cat, they start lapping up water from the glass that their owner was just drinking from).
Noacare is pitching Pura as a better, smarter cat fountain. It's an ergonomically-crafted fountain with a sloped design that Noacare claims reduces neck stress and keeps whiskers dry while also providing a constant supply of running water. It's made from non-toxic plastic and contains an activated carbon filter to keep the water clean. You still need to periodically refill the 1.2 L (40.5 fl oz) tank with fresh water, but Pura makes it easy. All you have to do, Noacare assures us, is lift the water container out of the system, put water in it, and place it back – no wires, no clips, just a glowing sensor light to remind you the water needs changing.
The bigger selling point is perhaps the built-in data logging. Pura logs your cat's – or for that matter cats' – daily water intake on an embedded flash drive. It identifies individual cats by syncing with a small ID card attached to each cat's collar when they get within 8 cm (3.1 in) of the fountain, and monitors both the amount of water they consume and the time(s) at which they drink.
This data can then be accessed over Bluetooth using an iOS or Android app. This app provides charts, reminders, tips, a calculator for estimating healthy water consumption levels, and other information related to your cats' drinking habits – all of which you can take to your vet for guidance if something seems amiss.
The Pura team's own trials found that cats drink around 30 percent more water from the Pura fountain than "standard" cat water fountains, but as with all things feline-related your mileage may vary considerably.
Pura is currently on Indiegogo, with a funding target of US$100,000 and an eye toward gaining consumer feedback ahead of potential (minor) design tweaks. Early bird pledges start at US$129 for one fountain and two collar tags, with higher tiers for larger bundle and volume sets. If the goal is met and everything else goes according to plan, Pura should ship in April 2016.
You can watch the Indiegogo pitch video below.
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