What parts are needed to build a sensitive, push-plate activated, solenoid valve to act as a cat water fountain?

Hello Instructables Community!

I am on a mission to water my cats! I have two cats that prefer to drink straight from a running water tap than from their bowl. I don't know if it is a freshness thing, or if it is just their odd nature, but they will always go for running water over a clean bowl of water any day! Also, they tend to drag their bowl of water around and it gets everywhere and is ruining my hardwood floors.

So, I would like to accomplish the following: Build a push-plate activated water fountain that has flow controlled by a solenoid valve. I hope to train the cats to push on the plate in order to activate the water so that they can drink.

I am hoping that the community may point me in the right direction to find the parts I may need for this project. I am hoping that the plate will be something small and relatively flat so that it does not stick up from the side of the bathroom sink too much. Many thanks!?

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iceng6 years ago
If you recirculate the water, the cats will pee on your pillow LoL
I see some good ideas on the right side of this page.
Help you more when your into details.

audiological (author)  iceng6 years ago
Thank you for pointing out the side links. I found a pretty good rendition of what I want to do here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Save-Water-Kitchen-Faucet-with-Foot-Pedal/

At this point, I need to rig a different pedal "switch" for this project. Mainly, it needs to be thinner and easily triggered by a relatively light cat paw stepping on it. Any thoughts on that?
Never had cats, dogs I know and only one is smart enough but to use a pedal or lever.
I would use something like an IR detector door light or light beam interrupt to turn it off and on

audiological (author)  iceng6 years ago
I may end up doing that if the switch doesn't work. The problem with that is that I am afraid that they will just sit there and let the water run if there is a IR or light beam interrupt as the on/off switch.
Yea... you might have to use both sensors and a time out feature to make this fountain bullet cat proof.
Here's hoping el gato doesn't notice it's recirculated water.

Recirculated water isn't much more of a problem than stagnant water in an ordinary dish. Maybe less. If concerned, commercial cat fountains use a carbon filter; you could build your device to use one of those.

HOWEVER: Speaking as someone who has a cat fountain which runs continuously... My cats are singularly underimpressed with it. They're specifically interested in the tap, perhaps because they see that I use it. Freshness and dissolved gasses may contribute; temperature likewise. The fact that sometimes it drips -- and they like trying to catch the drops -- seems to be another major factor. As does the fact that doing this gets them attention.

They're cats. They don't have to make sense.

Appropos of some other comments: Cats *can* be trained... if you can convince them that doing something is in their own best interest. Most won't perform for approval alone, or even for treats unless they are in the mood for a treat; pros working with cats make sure the cat is hungry when training or when they want it to perform. Beyond that it's all patience and consistency on your part... and recognizing when is and isn't a good time for a training session based on your own cat's behavior patterns. There are a number of good books on cat training; if you're seriously interested that's the place to start.
Use a microswitch, with a lever arm, and rest the plate on top of the switch in a frame - the plate will have to be very light, then, as you cat stands on the plate, the switch is pressed.

audiological (author)  steveastrouk6 years ago
Excellent idea! Where would one get switches like that?

At this point, I am looking at using a 12VDC solenoid valve, most likely with a wall-wart for power.
lemonie6 years ago
train the cats
Have you successfully trained the cats to do anything else?

iceng lemonie6 years ago

Dogs have owners and family.
Cats have Staff
lemonie iceng6 years ago

Cats have enough sense to say "You made it; you push the thing, I'll just sit here and wait for you..."

iceng lemonie6 years ago
He he he
Even the likes of Radio Shack should carry microswitches.

I just harvested three micro-switches from a throw away microwave that you may have seen the Sola transformer yesterday.

frollard6 years ago
iceeng has it...add a fountain pump to their bowl - or get them a purpose built recirculating water fountain bowl - they're not expensive and pets love them :D
audiological (author)  frollard6 years ago
Part of the issue is that they move the bowl all around the house. They drag it and in the process, spill it. Unfortunately, the repeated spills have started to wreck the hardwood flooring. If this project doesn't pan out, that will be the next step!
make it heavier -- cast the bottom of the bowl with cement/concrete...