This morning I was doing my fortnight shopping at our shelter store to pick up necessities for dogs. As I walked into the store, I was amazed at the number of options available in terms of pet food. It’s hard!
Another customer was browsing through our cat food options and asking what she thought of our care of wet versus dry food for the cats she had just adopted from us. It turned into a lengthy conversation about the pros and cons of each.
So I thought, “This is my next column!” And soon I fell into a pit of articles online. From what I can tell, there are pros and cons to each – so rather than based on a solid recommendation either way, I’ll lay out all the facts and let you decide what makes the most sense for your cunning friend.
For convenience: dry cat food
Dry cat food wins in the comfort category. For storage and ease of feeding, dry cat food is the first choice. If you’re looking for something mess-free and easy to take with you, ask the kids to help out, or get the cats fed while you’re away, cat food is the simplest option. very easy.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t make canned cat food easy either. Next to dry cat food, it is definitely more convenient than homemade and raw diets.
Moisturizing: wet cat food
Many cat nutritionists caution against feeding cats a completely dry diet. A dry kibble diet averages about 7-12% moisture, which makes your pet prone to dehydration if they don’t drink a lot of water.
My cat Billy has never liked wet food, but luckily he liked to drink water so was able to stay well hydrated with only a kibble diet.
Dry food is also very high in sodium, which causes water retention and further dehydration. Since most cats have a low thirst drive (again, Bailey didn’t have this problem, so your cat probably doesn’t either), your cat will likely be at least slightly dehydrated if they are only fed a dry diet. Keep in mind that even mild chronic dehydration can lead to urinary tract problems and health complications.
Fun fact: In the wild, cats receive most of their hydration from the prey they eat, which is typically 60-70% water. With 70-80% moisture content, canned or wet cat food is very close to your natural prey diet.
Pro tip: Try to choose moist food that has 70% moisture. While hydration is good, you don’t want to pay for water often.
For urinary issues: wet cat food
Indoor cats, especially neutered males, are prone to urinary problems. Urinary tract infections, kidney stones, idiopathic cystitis, and lower urinary tract diseases can all be a result of chronic dehydration in your cat.
Since canned cat food naturally contains more moisture than dry food, your cat is less likely to suffer from dehydration. Simply. Switching from dry cat food to canned food, or even including wet cat food as part of your cat’s daily routine is the best thing you can do for your cat’s kidney health.
Any cats with health issues that stress the kidneys, such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and cancer to name a few, would greatly benefit from switching from dry to canned.
For the picky eater: It’s a tie
Cats are a tough bunch! While some cats love the strong flavors and aromas of wet cat food, others reject it. Not only did Billy refuse, he shouted in protest.
If you are switching from dry cat food to canned (or vice versa), your cat may show some resistance — even significant resistance.
For more protein, cut down on carbohydrates: wet cat food
This is Los Angeles after all, the capital of the low-carb lifestyle.
Canned cat food generally contains more meat than a kibble diet, which is why it is more expensive. This is great news for cats, voracious carnivores, who require little, if any, carbohydrates.
For food safety: dry cat food
Dry cat food can be poured into a bowl and left throughout the day. Since so many cats are grazing, this works out well and makes it easier for cat owners who have irregular schedules to feed their pets. Just be careful not to mix water into dry pet food because mixing water with dry food can allow bacterial contamination.
For weight loss: wet cat food
Moisture is the winning factor here again for wet cat food. The high water content of canned cat food makes it ideal for losing or maintaining weight for your cat because water helps your pet feel full. The high protein content and low carbohydrate content also helps, as it promotes satiety, preventing your cat from returning to the bowl hungry after just a few hours.
For dental health: dry cat food
Dry cat food can be better for dental health than wet food, but the kibble diet isn’t a complete dental care routine. Any diet is limited in the amount of benefits it can provide to the teeth if you do not brush daily (or any brushing at all).
Brushing your cat’s teeth is still the number one way to promote cat dental health. Oral probiotics, such as Evorapet, which can be added to both dry and wet cat food, have shown promising results in reducing the bacteria that cause gingivitis and bad breath in cats.
For easy eating: wet cat food
If you have a kitten, a cat who has lost a few teeth, or a cat with a sensitive stomach, wet cat food may be helpful. Wet cat food makes the transition easy from milk or formula to solid foods, as it is very easy to eat and easy on a kitten’s stomach. Some cats that have lost a lot of their teeth and have difficulty eating can only eat wet canned foods.
If your cat is new to wet cat food, it may cause an upset stomach or diarrhea. The effect is usually temporary and the result of transition. Try a slow transition and mix some of your cat’s previous food with the new food. You may have to experiment to find wet foods that work best for your cat. Each cat’s system is a little different!
Best for overall health: wet cat food
Canned cat food is a clear winner when it comes to your cat’s best health. Whether you choose to switch to all canned foods or simply introduce them a few times a week, your cat will benefit from including wet food in her diet.
On top of urinary tract health, meat protein content, and weight loss, canned cat food can provide many benefits for cats. However, the best food choice for your pet should always be weighed against all the pros and cons.
There is no one-size-fits-all food solution for any pet. Choose the one that best suits your pet and your lifestyle. Above all else, always choose the best foods you can afford for your cat, whether dry or cooked, homemade, or raw.