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Wet vs. Dry Cat Food: Which is Better?

Wet vs. Dry Cat Food: Which is Better?

(Pros and Cons)

The most frequently discussed topic in the cat community is diet. More specifically many owners are wondering whether wet or dry food is better for their feline friends. The best food type for your cat depends on a variety of factors such as age, weight, health history and so on. But after learning the pros and cons of each food type you’ll have a better idea of which type is ideal for your cat. Please note this blog is not medical advice. Your veterinarian should always be your primary source of diet recommendations because they know your cat’s health history best. This information is simply meant to help you get a jump start on your cat food knowledge before that vet appointment. Now let’s review the pros and cons of wet and dry cat food.


What are the pros of wet cat food?

The most notable advantage of wet cat food is its high moisture content. According to some research, most of canned cat food contains between 68% and 78% water for comparison dry cat food only contains about 10% water. Now you may be wondering why moisture content matters. Well, the answer is hydration which is key to the optimal health of your cat. Dehydration is incredibly dangerous and can lead to death. Many cats don’t drink enough water which is possibly due to their primal instincts back in the day ancient when cats would get most if not all their water from eating rodents. Cats also learned to favour running water over still water which can cause sickness from bacteria build-up. So, if your cat is a fussy drinker wet food might be the ideal choice. Vets explain that drinking water is essential to aid in digestion aid transport and absorption of nutrients, maintain body temperature, help essential organs function properly, help circulation, flush out toxins and decrease the chance of kidney and bladder stones. Another pro of wet cat food is the fact that it has fewer calories than dry food. Since wet cat food contains a significantly high percentage of water it should be no surprise that it’s less calorically dense. Not only does wet food contain fewer calories but high moisture content leaves cats feeling fuller making wet food a great choice for cats that need to lose weight. Finally, wet food is easier for cats to chew by default which means that wet food might be necessary for some senior cats or cats with certain dental diseases.

What are the cons of wet cat food?

Well as beneficial as wet cat food can be it’s not without disadvantages. A frequent con that is mentioned among the cat community is that wet cat food is generally more expensive than dry. Needless to say, this can make buying wet food difficult for cat parents on a tight budget and for someone with several cats buying wet food can be a small fortune. Another con is the short shelf life. After a can of wet food is opened it only has a shelf life of 24 hours and that’s if it’s stored in a refrigerator. Wet food should not be left out for more than a few hours to prevent bacteria build-up. If the food is left out longer than that it can cause a gastrointestinal upset. This short best-by date can be problematic if your cat prefers to graze their food throughout the day. Finally, despite your best efforts to establish a wet food diet, there’s no guarantee that your cat will approve. Like humans, cats have their own individual likes and dislikes this means that some cats can be very picky other cats don’t like the taste of leftovers which is a problem if a can contain multiple servings which, can result in wasted food which only adds to the cost.

What are the pros of dry cat food?

Some people think that all dry pet food is unhealthy but that’s simply not true. Some of the top-rated cat foods on the market are dry food as long as it’s of good quality. Dry food has its own unique benefits first dry food can help reduce plaque and tartar build-up on your cat’s teeth. That plaque and tartar build-up can lead to the following problems bacteria build-up gingivitis which is inflammation of the gums which often results in painful bleeding, periodontal disease which causes even more inflammation and pain plus tooth loss, receded gums which causes pain from exposing the sensitive area of teeth general infection and decreased organ function due to the bacteria being absorbed into the bloodstream. Just to be clear dry food alone is not a substitute for everyday cat dental care such as teeth brushing and water additives, but dry food can be an additional tool to help prevent plaque and tartar build-up plus if brushing your cat’s teeth is impossible dry food is certainly better than no prevention. The second pro to dry food is its cost because it’s usually less expensive than wet food for cat parents on a tight budget. Dry food may be the only option to properly care for their furry friend cost wise dry food may also be the only realistic option for someone with several cats or someone who feeds an outdoor colony. Another advantage is that dry food has a longer shelf life since it can be stored longer than wet food. It keeps costs down, after it’s opened dry food can be left out all day. This is because it has a much lower moisture content than wet food minimising the risk of bacterial growth. So, if you free-feed your cat dry food makes it so that you don’t have to rush home to open a can.

What are the cons of dry food?

One of the biggest cons to dry food is that it could lead to a higher chance of cat obesity. There are several possible reasons for this: first dry food typically has more calories than wet food, second because dry food has significantly less moisture than wet food and it may leave cats not feeling totally full and third possibility is that many cats that eat dry food are also free-fed. Although some free-fad cats only eat as they’re hungry others overeat all day which can result in obesity.  Just to be clear this correlation does not mean that dry food will always make a cat become overweight nonetheless, this risk should always be taken into consideration. Another con is that dry food doesn’t help finicky drinkers as dry food only contains about 6% to 10% moisture which is a small fraction of the daily water. The cats generally need about half a cup of water per five pounds of body weight each day.  For example, if you have a 10-pound cat they need about one cup each day. So how does this help the fussy drinkers?  Believe it or not, a single can of wet food could potentially give your cat half the water they need for the day.

Now you might be thinking well what about a combination diet as you’ve probably gathered by now? The pros and cons of each food type can make it seems like there is no win but feeding your cat a combination diet can balance the pros and cons of both food types. Since the general recommendation for adult cats are two meals per day you can make one meal wet food and the other meal dry food. If you plan on free feeding with dry food, it might be the easiest to make the dry morning meal. Another way to go about a combination diet is to mix half dry food and half wet food for each meal for a cat that sticks up its nose at one food type. A combination diet might also prevent meals from being boring. There are several advantages and disadvantages to each food type since there is no one-size-fits-all answer. it’s important to ask your vet which food he recommends for your cat. If your vet has several suggestions, then the decision comes down to two factors quality and your cat’s preference. Whether you choose wet food, dry food or both remember to always follow the portion recommendations.

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