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Culture

Should you buy your cat a smart water fountain?

The Pura is a smart water fountain that tracks your pet's thirst, but some felines may outwit it.

The Pura fountain has a simple, modern design. Pura

I have owned just about every cat water fountain ever manufactured in an effort to get my CNET test cats to drink more liquids. They all ended up in the trash after breaking or turning out to be impossible to keep clean. I haven't tried a smart water fountain, though. The Pura on Indiegogo wants to bring brains to the business of keeping kitties hydrated.

The basic concept behind Pura is that it tracks how much water your cat (or cats) drinks and lets you keep tabs with an app. Similar to the Bistro smart cat feeder or Tailio smart litter box, the underlying goal of the Pura is to prevent or discover illness. Changes in drinking habits can indicate hidden health conditions like kidney problems or urinary tract troubles.

The design of the fountain itself is reminiscent of the clean Apple-style look done up in white and clear. Water flows out from a hole in the top. An LED light glows around the rim to remind you to change the water. The fountain comes apart easily for cleaning and changing the filter.

Every cat in the house needs to wear a collar with an ID tag that the fountain recognizes. A scale within the fountain logs the amount of water each cat slurps up. The Pura team says it also uses an artificial intelligence system to account for factors like water evaporation and when cats are just playing around with their paws in the fountain.

The Pura is intriguing, but some pet owners might not be thrilled about the collar and tag requirement. My indoor-only cats don't wear collars. They are also notoriously reluctant to use water fountains or water bowls. I supplement their intake by adding water to their wet food. Would they embrace the Pura's low-key design? I'm not sure.

Cat caretakers with felines that use water bowls may find the Pura intriguing enough to invest in. There are still $129 (about £83, AU$175) early-bird pledges available. The regular price is $149 (about £95, AU$202). The campaign is just over halfway to a $100,000 fixed-funding goal with 24 days left to run.

Crowdfunding campaigns always entail some risk on the part of buyers. It's up to you to evaluate the claims and decide if your investment is likely to be returned in the form of the product you expect. The Pura is slated to ship in April 2016 if it meets its funding goal.

Let's return to that central question. Should you buy your cat a smart water fountain?

If you don't mind the crowdfunding uncertainty, you have a cat that likes water fountains, you're concerned about cat health and you tend to be an early tech adopter, then you might go for it. If your fuzzy companions eschew water-spewing devices and abhor collars, then maybe not so much.

Cat wearing Pura collar
This cat sports a Pura collar tag. Pura