Is your cat having trouble chewing dry cat food or regurgitate kibble after eating? Soft dry cat food is one way of helping your cat get the nutrition it needs while being easy on their teeth and stomach.
After reviewing a wide selection of cat food brands and formulas, we’ve gathered together our top six soft dry cat food options.
Our top six soft dry cat food choices:
- Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend
- Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Morsels
- Primal Freeze-Dried Cat Food – Rabbit Formula
- Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers Grain-Free Recipe
- WELLNESS CORE Natural Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
- Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food
Is there any soft dry cat food?
Soft dry cat food is an option for pet parents and many prefer it over wet and dry food.
Soft dry food for cats is essentially dry cat food that is softer. This makes the food easy to chew and digest.
You also have a variety of options to choose from, including kibble-like pieces and freeze-dried raw alternatives.
What’s the difference between wet and dry cat food?
Many cat owners battle the choice between wet and dry foods. If it’s a reputable brand, the products should meet your cat’s nutritional needs.
There are two major differences: storage and water content.
- Storage: Both dry and soft dry cat food are easy to store at room temperature. With wet food, you have to refrigerate it once the pouch is open. Dry kibble or soft dry cat food just an airtight container to keep it fresh.
- Water content: Cats get most of their water intake through their food. So, wet cat food, with its moisture content between 70 to 85-percent, is a wonderful choice for felines. Dry kibble only contains 5 to 10-percent. Soft dry falls in the middle.
Is there a semi-moist cat food?
Semi-moist cat food is an invention from the 1970s. Many manufacturers no longer use terms or the phrase ‘semi-moist.’
According to VCA Hospitals, semi-moist cat food is more expensive per energy calorie than dry food.
Semi-moist food has a moisture content of about 60 to 65- percent water.
This cat food usually has more salt and sugar than both dry and wet cat food. The added sugar and salt could lead to weight gain or other health issues, depending on your cat. It’s simply not appropriate for every cat.
One drawback is that some brands load their food with colors, preservatives, and flavors. This is not something you want your cat to eat daily. Experts recommend that you use soft dry cat food only as an occasional treat.
Anytime you decide to try a new treat or food option like semi-moist cat food you should first talk to your veterinarian. The high levels of salt and sugar may have a negative impact on a cat with health issues like diabetes.
Can you still buy Tender Vittles cat food?
Tender Vittles was an invention by Ralston Purina in 1976 and the first introduction to semi-moist cat food.
It was a revolutionary food invention. There was no canned cat food or cumbersome bags. It came in pouches that you could quickly reseal, and cat owners enjoyed the convenience.
Tender Vittles reached its popularity climax in the 1980s. Until this point, it was the leading brand of semi-moist cat food.
However, by 1982, Tender Vittles listed some, well… not so great ingredients. The troublesome components included propylene glycol, ethoxyquin, BHA, and artificial color. This is junk!
Although Purina continued the production, consumers started to question semi-moist food and its nutrition value. In 2007, Purina discontinued the line due to declining sales, renal failure cases in pets, and bad publicity.
How do you make dry cat food soft?
Cats are generally picky eaters. When your cat likes a particular food, they’re mostly hesitant to change.
So, what if your senior cat can’t chew its kibble and refuses to eat wet or canned food options?
Fortunately, there are ways to soften up kibble. If you do it carefully, you won’t alter the nutrient count, and your cat still gets a wholesome meal.
Your best bet is to add moisture to the food. You can do this using either water or a low-sodium chicken broth.
All you do is add a little warm water or broth—don’t over-soak it—to the food. Allow it to sit for a few minutes to saturate thoroughly. You can also try heating it in the microwave for a few seconds.
Once it’s soft, serve it. Your cat doesn’t have to chew and could swallow the food whole. This may prevent digestive issues and even reduce vomiting. You can also try feeding your kitty food for cats with a sensitive stomach.
Try transitioning your cat to canned food. The moisture count is much higher, and it’s easier for the cat to eat.
How to transition your cat from dry to wet food
One of the biggest mistakes cat parents can make is only feeding dry food.
The low water content can easily lead to dehydration, bladder stones, and constipation. Of course, this depends on your cat—if they drink plenty of water, no need to worry. If not, consider feeding your cat wet food occasionally so hydration doesn’t become an issue. Or invest in a cat water fountain.
When switching to wet food, it’s important to be patient. Begin by mixing a small amount of canned food with the kibble. Place it on top of their regular meal so your cat can sniff it.
Gradually add more wet food and less kibble. When your cat seems pleased, leave out the dry altogether from that portion. This transition should take at least seven full days.
Please consult your vet if your cat has specific nutritional needs.
Why choose soft dry cat food?
Soft dry cat food is the middle ground between wet and dry food. It’s not super moist, but it isn’t too hard for a senior cat without teeth to chew either.
One benefit of crunchy dry cat food is that it helps remove plaque and tartar that can build up on teeth. With soft dry food, your cat is still receiving some of that beneficial crunch. However, don’t rely on your food choice as their sole dental care. Annual dental cleanings are essential to good oral health.
Considerations when buying soft dry cat food
Whenever you change your cat’s diet or switch to another brand, it’s essential to consider a few things.
The cat food industry has faced its fair share of controversies, including recalls. And with brands introducing new lines, it’s crucial to consider every manufacturer’s reputation.
If possible, avoid low-end cat food brands that use fillers or low-quality ingredients. The easiest way to tell the quality of cat food is to read the label.
Ingredients that are red flags include by-products or organs that have been deemed “unfit for human consumption.” Avoid high carbohydrate grains like corn, wheat, rice, or soy.
Ingredients that should be included and that you want to see listed first are muscle meat like chicken or poultry. You should look for protein from a named meat or poultry source, taurine, and other vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fatty acids.
Looking at cat food labels can be confusing!. Fortunately, the AAFCO now has guidelines on what brands must include and what claims they can’t make.
- Always read the cat food label: There is a system for listing the ingredients on your cat’s food label, and understanding it will help you pick the best ingredients.
- The FDA mandates that ingredients must be listed from most to least based on their weight.
- The majority of your cat’s food made of the first few ingredients listed, so you want to be sure they aren’t fillers. Instead, look for whole foods.
Animal protein and fat are crucial ingredients that should be included in your cat’s food. Because your cat is an obligate carnivore, it needs nutrients like taurine.
Choosing food that’s specifically formulated for your cat’s life stage (kittenhood, adulthood, and senior age) is important. Throughout its lifetime, your cat has varying nutritional needs. For instance, kittens need more energy than adults. Senior cats, therefore, may need moist cat food to stay hydrated.
There are foods claiming to be “balanced for all life stages.” These are fine if your cat is healthy. However, if your cat suffers from any ailments, consult your vet for a special diet.
Vitamins and minerals
Feeding your cat a balance of vitamins and minerals is crucial. These ensure that your cat’s body runs smoothly, keeping them healthier for longer.
Essential vitamins to look for include:
- Vitamin A
- The vitamin B complex
- Vitamin C
- Folic acid
Minerals help maintain healthy teeth, joints, and bones. Crucial minerals include:
What is the best soft dry cat food?
We compared dozens of products to find the best cat food brands for all life stages.
1. Best Overall: Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend
Purina formulated its ONE line using recipes with real meat, fish, or poultry. It’s designed to provide your cat with all the nutrients needed to sustain healthy, lean muscles.
You have a variety of recipes to choose from. Our cat enjoys the chicken flavor. It’s high in nutrients and doesn’t contain any unnecessary fillers. All ingredients are high-quality.
The Purina ONE line works to deliver targeted nutrition for cats in all life stages. It even caters to conditions such as obesity and urinary health.
It’s easy for cats to chew and digest while providing them with all the nutrition they need.
It also contains a healthy dose of omega-6 fatty acids that help maintain healthy, radiant skin and coat.
Purina has formulated a recipe here that is rich in antioxidants, supporting your cat’s immune system. Plus, the crunchy bits help to remove plaque, and in turn, improve your cat’s oral health.
- Consists of real chicken meat
- A blend of crunchy kibble and tender morsels
- No filler ingredients
- Accents of real carrots and peas
- Rich in antioxidants
- Not as soft as other brands
- It has a distinct odor that is palatable to cats
This formula contains only high-quality ingredients. Highlighting the importance of a cat’s natural diet it includes 98 percent real salmon and chicken.
The manufacturer used only cage-free chicken and wild-caught salmon. All the ingredients are responsibly sourced—there are no components imported from China.
Besides the meat, the recipe includes organs and bones. It also comes with added taurine and probiotics. The formula consists of omega-fatty acids to support healthy skin and coat.
Stella & Chewy involved minimal processing when manufacturing this product, minimizing unnecessary ingredients such as hormones, grains, antibiotics, and fillers. Instead, it’s fully balanced to support your cat naturally.
They have designed their recipe to increase stamina and boost endurance. You can use it as the main course, but Stella and Chewy recommend applying it as a topper.
All the products come from U.S. factories, crafted with care, and in small batches.
- All-natural salmon and chicken
- Raw, freeze-dried protein
- Easy to chew
- Increases stamina and endurance
- Rich in nutrients
- Made in the U.S.
- Some pieces may contain large parts of bone
- The texture is very fine, which may not appeal to every cat
Primal uses premium ingredients from reputable sources. The formula contains healthy doses of naturally derived vitamins and minerals. It has a high-protein ratio, which mimics what cats eat in the wild.
The formula is a sensible choice to maintain a proper weight and boost your cat’s overall health. The food comes in nuggets, and before serving, you add a little water. This makes it ultra-soft, digestible and keeps your cat hydrated.
It’s free of any fillers, soy, grain, gluten, and wheat. Primal also states that it’s manufactured in the U.S.
- Premium, raw rabbit
- High in natural minerals and vitamins
- It helps to maintain a healthy weight
- Easy to serve by adding a little water
- Free of grains, gluten, soy, wheat, among others
- The nuggets are quite hard—always add water
- The recipe may not appeal to every cat
It includes a balanced dose of omega-3 and six fatty acids derived from cod, salmon oil, and chia seeds. This ingredient supports a healthy coat.
In addition to this, it’s high in antioxidants and probiotics—this aids in digestion, keeping your cat happy and healthy.
Instinct left out all unnecessary ingredients. There are no grains, corn, potatoes, wheat, soy, or artificial colors or preservatives.
The freeze-dried process ensures that raw animal protein remains safe to eat. The process gently removes moisture, locking in the nutrients while intensifying the flavor. Instinct boasts that even picky eaters will love it.
- Works as a topper or treat
- Formulated to support skin and fur
- High in antioxidants and probiotics
- Packed in natural nutrients and flavor
- Made in the U.S.
- The pieces have a strong smell.
- Not a flavor for every cat.
The recipe offers a high protein count. According to the brand, it has 80 percent more meat than other formulas containing grains. Besides being grain-free, it also doesn’t include any animal by-products.
There are no added artificial flavors or preservatives. It offers a natural occurring meat flavor from the ingredients.
The recipe provides a balanced diet. It contains all the needed omega fatty acids, antioxidants, and probiotics.
It also contains naturally occurring microorganisms that help to protect your cat’s digestive tract. The recipe should also aid in urinary tract health, thanks to its balanced levels of minerals.
- Suitable for overweight kitties
- High in natural protein
- Free of grains, gluten, and animal by-products
- No artificial flavors or colors
- Supports healthy digestion and urinary tract
- The food pieces are tiny, so easy for a senior cat without teeth to enjoy
- It has a slight smell to it, making it highly palatable for cats
If you’re looking for an option to provide your senior cat with more energy, check out the Nulo Freestyle. This freeze-dried raw recipe offers a balanced meal for your cat. It’s compatible with all life stages as a topper.
This turkey and duck recipe contains 98 percent turkey, duck, bones, and organs. It’s ultra-rich in proteins with a healthy balance of fats.
Nulo enriched the formula with functional ingredients, such as cranberries and dried kelp. It also includes probiotic GanedenBC30. This supports a healthy digestive system and immune health.
The raw cat food recipe contains vitamins E, A, and D3. These are essential components to allow your cat to thrive for years to come.
What’s also great about this recipe is the minimal processing involved. They quickly form the raw pieces into their nugget shape and then freeze-dry them. This preserves nutrients and flavor.
- The formula is high in protein
- Provides energy to all life stages
- Fortified with vitamins
- Includes cranberries and dried kelp
- Supports digestion and immune system
- The nuggets crumble easily
Soft dry cat food is a fantastic alternative to wet food or kibble. It’s basically dry cat food that is soft, making it easy to chew. Soft cat food is excellent for senior cats who need options to help them stay hydrated or suffer from dental disease.
All the options on our list are worth checking out. But our favorite is the Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend. It’s a blend of kibble and tender morsels, fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. The formula is also high in protein and suitable for all life stages.