The wet vs dry cat food debate is an ongoing issue for many cat parents, but which type of food is the best?
The answer is, both! The right choice of cat food depends on several factors, including a cat’s age, size, and existing health conditions.
In this article, we are going to describe the strengths and weaknesses of both wet and dry cat food and explain different feeding methods cat owners can use.
Table of Contents
Is dry or wet food better for cats?
Both dry and wet cat food have their pros and cons. Wet food is beneficial for cats prone to urinary tract diseases. Since it contains a high percentage of moisture (over 75 percent), wet food promotes more dilute urine, which minimizes the risk of bladder infection.
The high moisture content also means fewer calories, so wet food may help prevent obesity in cats and even promote weight loss. Canned food can help reduce the risk of dehydration, which may cause serious health issues, including kidney disease.
Wet food, this is why some cat parents favor it. Dry food has a longer shelf life and allows for free feeding. But dry food contains more calories than wet cat food, making it less suitable for overweight or obese cats.
Do vets recommend wet or dry food for cats?
Vets generally recommend wet food for cats because of the water content. Cats in the wild hunt animals to survive, and they get the necessary water intake from their prey, which is rich in moisture. Since wet food is rich in moisture, it mimics your cats’ natural diet more closely.
By contrast, dry food is low in moisture (around 10 percent). It’s also higher in carbohydrates. This might increase the risk of obesity and feline diabetes, although there is no conclusive scientific evidence to support this claim.
Should I feed my cat a mix of wet and dry food?
Mixing wet and dry cat food is called combination feeding. It means giving your cat a canned meal twice a day and leaving dry food freely available for them to eat whenever they want.
Combination feeding is beneficial because it increases the moisture content of your cat’s meals. It also gives your cat a variety of flavors and textures to choose from. Always consult your vet before you decide to mix food to be sure you’ll be giving your cat the right ratio of dry to wet food.
It’s important to note that if you have a pet that struggles with weight, free-feeding may not be the best choice. Since dry food is freely available, it’s hard to monitor how much of it your cat eats, which can lead to overeating.
You can prevent overfeeding by using a food puzzle or a forage feeder, which measures the amount of dry food.
Can kittens eat regular dry cat food?
Newborn kittens get all the nutrients they need from their mother’s milk for the first four weeks of life. After that, you can gradually introduce them to high-quality dry food that is specifically formulated for kittens.
This is necessary because kittens need large amounts of energy, two to three times higher than adult cats. It’s essential for them to stay on a kitten-specific formula until they reach maturity, in other words, until they are approximately one year old.
Is it OK to mix wet and dry food for a kitten?
Just like with adult cats, mixing wet and dry food is perfectly fine for kittens, as long as the foods are high-quality and formulated for kittens. Consult your vet to make sure you’re giving your kitten exactly what it needs.
Kittens benefit from free-feeding when food is available at all times. You can’t overfeed kittens while they are growing and developing, as they burn off a lot of energy during playtime.
When should I switch my kitten from wet to dry food?
By the time your kitten is four or five weeks old, they should be used to eating canned food that’s only slightly moistened by a milk replacer. Then you can slowly start adding small amounts of dry food and fresh water, using the free feeding approach.
When your kitten reaches eight to ten weeks of age, they should be able to eat kitten food that isn’t additionally moistened.
Is wet or dry food better for older cats?
The main goals of feeding senior cats are maintaining optimum weight and preventing or slowing down the development of chronic diseases. Many older cats suffer from dental issues, so it can be difficult for them to chew dry food, especially if it has a particularly hard texture. There are some soft dry foods you can try, check out our article on “Soft Dry Cat food.”
Also, senior cats may have limited ability to move. They aren’t as active as younger cats, so eating only dry food can increase the risk of obesity. For these reasons, wet food may be a healthier option for older cats.
Dry cat food
Here are some of the ins and outs of giving dry cat food to your pet.
Can cats live on dry food only?
Cats can live entirely on a dry food diet, but the food needs to be nutritionally balanced and complete, and meet the standards set forth by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
High-quality dry food should contain an animal-based source of protein as the first or second ingredient. Cats are obligate carnivores and need high amounts of animal protein in their diet to thrive. Many types of dry food are made using real chicken, turkey, beef, or fish.
It’s a good idea to avoid dry food that has gluten or grains such as corn or soy. This usually means that it has high amounts of carbohydrates, which can be hard for cats to digest. It’s best to avoid artificial ingredients, like artificial preservatives or flavors, as these have no nutritional value and may be harmful to your cat.
Is dry cat food better than wet?
No. The most important thing is that the cat food you choose is nutritionally complete. The best type of diet for your cat will depend on several factors, including your cat’s size, age, and any existing health issues.
Dry cat food has a much lower percentage of moisture than wet food, so it’s not ideal for cats with urinary tract issues. Also, dry food contains starch to bind the kibble, and starch has high amounts of carbs, which may cause digestion issues.
But, dry cat food is usually more affordable. It’s also the more convenient option because it doesn’t have to be refrigerated and it lasts longer. There are dry food types specifically designed to reduce the buildup of plaque and tartar on a cat’s teeth by wiping and scraping.
Is it okay to put water on dry cat food?
It’s actually recommended to add water to dry kibble to reduce the risk of dehydration. Adding water will increase the moisture content and can help enhance the flavor of the food.
If you notice your cat is losing interest in the dry kibble they regularly eat, try adding one-quarter of a cup of water to their food. This may help release some of the smells in the food and make it more palatable for your kitty. Inadequate water intake is one of the concerns of having a strictly dry food diet, so adding water can only be beneficial for your cat.
Wet cat food
Here’s what you should know about wet cat food.
Why do cats like wet food more than dry food?
Because of its high percentage of moisture, wet food is an excellent dietary source of water and it plays a big role in your cat’s health and hydration.
Canned food is highly palatable for most cats, and there are various flavors and textures available, so this type of food will likely appeal to even the pickiest of eaters.
Can you mix kibble with wet food?
You can and you should! Mixing kibble with wet food gives your cat a chance to explore different flavors and textures and discover what they like best. It also gives you a chance to include some budget-friendly options into your cat’s diet, without having to limit yourself to buying just one type of food.
Adding wet food to kibble also increases the moisture content and your cat’s daily water intake. Regardless of the type of food your cat eats, they should always have access to fresh water.
Takeaway on the wet vs dry cat food debate
Both are great options depending on your cat’s age, size, breed, and overall health.
In the end, you can choose to give your cat dry food, wet food, or a mixture of both, based on their needs and preferences. Whatever type of food you decide to go for, it’s essential that the food is nutritionally balanced and complete.
It’s always a good idea to ask the vet about your cat’s specific nutritional requirements. They can perform a complete nutritional evaluation to decide which type of food is best for your feline friend.