Wet vs Dry Food for Cats

The following is an excerpt from Petfinder.com’s FurKeeps Kickoff Ask the Experts Forum.

Q: Is it better to feed an adult cat wet or dry food? Our vet is really against dry food, but I hear different things from other friends’ vets.

Answer 1: Many people rely on dry food because it is cheaper, easy to store and they can leave it out all day for the cat to nibble on. It also helps with their teeth, depending on the brand/kind of dry food.

Canned wet food helps develop strong bones and muscles.

My vet has me give both, but only a half can of wet food daily. Canned food is more expensive than dry and my cats enjoy the benefits of both kinds.

I would discuss this with your vet and ask why he or she feels so strongly. Communication with your vet is very important.

It is also important that you always provide a bowl of fresh water for your cat.

Debby Williams
Veterinary Services Manager, Erie County SPCA
Tonawanda, New York

    Answer 2: There’s no right or wrong answer about whether you should feed canned or dry food (or both!) to your adult cat, and some people have very strong opinions either way.

    As Debby said, it is certainly wise to discuss this matter with your veterinarian, as he or she may have specific reasons for that recommendation based on your kitty’s health and medical conditions (if any).

    Both canned and dry foods are nutritionally complete. The single biggest difference between the two is moisture content, with canned food obviously having a much higher moisture content.
    Many people find dry kibble to be more convenient, and many vets feel that dry food is better for a cat’s teeth. However, dry food is not a substitute for dental care, and pretty much all cats — regardless of whether they have eaten canned food or dry food their entire lives — will need professional dental care at some point in their lives.

    As for the benefits of canned food, many cats do seem to find it more palatable and this can be especially important if you have a cat with a finicky appetite. Canned food also has much higher water content, and this can be of particular benefit for cats with kidney problems (it helps keep them better hydrated) or lower urinary tract disease (it helps produce more dilute urine that can alleviate or reduce the frequency of symptoms).

    However, we don’t know enough about the causes of many illnesses in older cats to know if feeding a canned diet can prevent some common problems, like chronic kidney disease, from developing in the future.

    Finally, the higher water content may make it easier to put your kitty on a diet (if necessary) because most cans of cat food contain roughly the same number of calories as 1/4 to 1/3 cup of dry food, but in a larger volume of food, so the cat may feel fuller at mealtime.

    So, not a straightforward answer either way. Some of the decisions will come down to personal preference (yours and your cat’s!) but certainly feeding decisions should be made in consultation with your veterinarian. He will be in the best position to advise you on the optimal diet for your cat based on his/her age, weight, lifestyle, and overall health.

    Regardless of what food you end up feeding, as Debby said, your cat should always have access to plenty of fresh, clean water!

    Hope that helps,
    Dr. Stephanie Janeczko D.V.M.
    Medical Director, Animal Care & Control of New York City
    New York, NY



    Wet vs. Dry Cat Food: FAQs Chart

    Common Questions: After noting tendency:
    Does your cat prefer the crunchy texture of dry food? All in all, dry food may be the best cat food for your feline.
    Does your cat enjoy the texture of semi-moist and moist food? By and large, offer your cat semi-moist and wet food. After all, this provides hydration.
    Does your cat prefer smellier food? All things considered, warm wet food or dry food with a little water in the microwave. To be sure, the smellier the food, the more interested your cat will be in ultimately eating their meal.
    What is your cat’s dental hygiene? If your cat’s teeth or gums are sensitive, in fact, you may find that wet food is more agreeable for your cat.

    Offer varying tastes and textures to your cat to let them discover their opinion on wet or dry cat food.
    To demonstrate, the following factors predetermine a cat’s interest in wet or dry cat food:

    1. Odor
    2. Consistency
    3. Taste
    4. Learned dietary habits



    Wet and Dry Cat Food: Pros and Cons

    Eventually, consult a veterinarian on whether wet vs dry cat food is best for your cat. Nutritional cat food is significantly available in an array of products. To begin with, a feline’s diet addresses a cat’s preferences in view of their age, lifestyle, and health.

    Semi-Moist Cat Food Canned Wet Cat Food Dry Cat Food
    Semi-moist food, on balance, contains 16 – 25% protein, 5-10% fat, 25 -35% carbohydrates, and 25-34% water. Canned wet cat food contains altogether, 10 – 20% protein, between 2-10% fat, and 72 – 78% water. Dry cat food usually contains 28 – 36% protein, 8 – 22% fat, and less than 12% water.
    High-quality semi-moist foods are especially palatable, user-friendly, and altogether, they’re ultimately storable without refrigeration. Canned wet foods are certainly great for pet parents who in short, surely want their cat to have variety. Pet parents often prefer dry cat food because it is more convenient, cheaper, and in any event, easier-to-store.
    Corn syrup keeps the food semi-moist and prevents drying out. On the negative side, these ingredients can also make a cat thirsty. Overall, canned wet food ultimately helps cats develop strong bones and muscles. Another key point about dry cat food is that depending on the type and brand, on the positive side, it can benefit a cat’s dental hygiene.
    As can be seen, semi-moist cat food is usually more expensive than canned wet cat food and dry cat food. Canned wet cat food can frequently be pricier. On the positive side, canning specifically helps preserve food indefinitely. Dry cat food can be fed free choice, that is to say, pet parents can leave the food out. Dry diets are chiefly 8 to 10 percent moisture. In other words, dry cat food is more energy-dense!
    Semi-moist foods are significantly convenient. Especially for travel, since after all, they come in individual servings. To point out, canned foods have the same calories as 1/3 cup of dry cat food. Plus, in any event, canned foods keep cats better hydrated. By all means, some cats prefer crunchy dry cat foods over soft ones. Overall, palatability is influenced by flavor and smell. To put it another way, how the food feels in their mouth.



    Super – Premium, Premium, and Low-Cost: Food Table

    While there’s semi-moist, canned wet, and dry cat food, to be sure, cat food also has three categories. To enumerate, there’s a super-premium, premium, and low-cost cat food. To point out, your cat’s food regardless of it being wet or dry should be specifically based on providing a complete and balanced diet.


    Super-Premium Cat Food Premium Cat Food Low-Cost Cat Food
    To be noted, super-premium cat food is significantly higher in nutrient density and digestibility than other cat food. First and foremost, premium cat food is not as nutrient-dense. For this reason, your cat must eat more of this food to obtain the same calories. To emphasize, low-cost cat food uses the most inexpensive ingredients.
    More expensive as a result of the higher-quality ingredients. This is a more economical choice than super-premium cat foods. To point out, this is the most inexpensive category of cat food.
    Higher fat content obviously makes super-premium cat food taste great. Generally speaking, review premium cat food by reputable manufacturers. All in all, who test by feeding trials. Altogether, ensuring consistent quality and balanced nutrition. Low-cost cat food is in fact, not as tasty or digestible, as more expensive cat food.
    Nutrient density ensures not only that the cat doesn’t eat as much volume but also makes sure they still get the same nutrition. Altogether, pet parents who choose quality over quantity significantly ensure their cat receives the best possible nutrition. It’s important to realize, a cat may need to eat more low-cost cat food to obtain adequate nutrition, on balance.
    In effect, a cat may need to eat more low-cost cat food to obtain adequate nutrition. In the long run, the average cat tends to do well when eating the premium cat food diet. There’s low digestibility in low-cost cat food. For this reason, the amount of stool in the litter increases.
    Super-premium cat food is available ordinarily at specialty stores, veterinary clinics, or some grocery stores. Overall, premium cat food is sold in grocery stores, large pet stores, and department stores. Low-cost cat food is commonly sold in grocery stores. It is also known as the “store brand.”



    Wet or Dry Cat Food Tips

    1. Enticing Factors to a Cat’s Palette: In essence, smell, texture, and taste ultimately decide if a cat will expressly eat their food.
    2. The Food Doesn’t Say‘Complete’ or ‘Balanced’? With this in mind, definitely select a cat food that states in brief, that it’s comprised of a complete and balanced feline diet.
    3. Make Sure your Cat’s Diet Contains These Six Nutrients:
      Water: The most vital nutrient, water lubricates tissues, and distributes electrolytes.
      Protein: In general, protein upkeeps bones, blood, tissues, and the immune system.
      Carbohydrates: Ultimately, carbs provide energy and help with nutrient absorption.
      Fats: Promotes healthy skin, and fur. Comparatively offers two and a quarter times the available energy per unit of weight, compared to carbs or proteins.
      Minerals: Essential for nerve conduction, muscle contraction, acid-base balance, fluid stability inside the cells, and obviously, many other bodily functions.
      Vitamins: Small amounts of vitamins are surely beneficial to a cat’s health. For instance, water-soluble B-Complex, and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
    4. Buy Tested Wet or Dry Cat Food: Test trials create complete and balanced diets. These trials determine not only the palatability but also if the nutrients are viable to a cat.
    5. Check the Manufacturer’s Reputation: Obviously, a manufacturer’s history in nutritional research is essential. Especially when determining the quality control testing of wet vs dry cat food.
    6. Changing Diet: Ultimately, a cat’s diet can altogether change. To clarify, a cat’s diet is highly particular. Especially to their age, health, activity level, and living conditions.
    7. Choose Food Appropriately: In sum, cats receive nutrition, for the most part, by eating specifically for their stage of life. In particular, for example, kittens need more protein, fat, and calcium than older felines. For this reason, adult cats can gain weight if they’re fed high-calorie kitten food.