Is Wet or Dry Food Better for Cats?

There’s a reason felines are called finicky. Cats tend to be particular about just about everything.

Switch kitty litter brands and prepare for a full-scale protest; adjust the view to the backyard at your peril. It’s no wonder that many owners stockpile whatever food their cats deem acceptable. But there are differences between dry and wet cat food that could affect your cat’s long-term health. Dr. Annie Price of Ormewood Animal Hospital in Atlanta offers advice on what’s best for cats.

“For years and years, you remember vets saying that canned food is junk food,” she says. “We found that’s not necessarily accurate.”

Price says that cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they rely on meat for nutrition and lack the enzyme required to break down plant material. As descendants of desert-dwelling hunters, cats also thrive on food that resembles what’s consumed in the wild. Their ideal meal has plenty of protein and fat, with very few carbs. Cats also tend to be dehydrated, which leads to kidney issues over time. Canned cat food typically contains about 80 percent moisture so felines get a little additional water in their diet along with the protein benefits. While dry kibble may include a higher percentage of protein, Price says the dry stuff also includes far too many carbohydrates.

“It is not so much about the protein but about limiting the carbohydrates (empty calories), which cats do not efficiently use,” she says. “Dry food is almost like carb-loading at every meal.”

High-carbohydrate diets lead to obesity and weight-related health issues such as diabetes, a prevalent issue among couch-dwelling counterparts. In its “State of Pet Health 2012″ report, Banfield Pet Hospital notes a 90 percent increase in the number of overweight cats treated between 2007 and 2011. Excess weight also leads to costly health conditions such as arthritis, heart disease and thyroid issues.

When shopping for wet cat food, Price recommends pate formulas that include chicken or turkey – animals that cats would typically hunt during outdoor adventures. Leave tuna, sardines and other fish on the shelves.

“Desert-dwellers won’t find much fish,” she notes. “We developed that ideal based on cartoons.”

Article by Morieka Johnson

Photo by eviltomthai


283 comments

Christine J.
Christine J.4 months ago

My beloved kitty is 18 years old and gets a ratio of 25% dry to 75% wet. My previous darling cat lived to 19 and ate mostly dry. The main trouble with a wet diet is that they tend to get more dental problems.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers4 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

Carrie-Anne Brown

interesting article, thanks for sharing :)

Bibi Sandstrom
Bibi Sandstrom1 years ago

This is exactly what we've been doing because our vet listened to a cat nutritionist and afterwards went home and threw out his dry cat food, and urged us to also only feed wet food except for treats. Murphy's Law - our 3 prefer dry, and I hate washing and recycling the cans, but I do want what's best for them. We also have been avoiding seafood flavors because of the high magnesium. Decades ago only 2 flavors of Friskies Buffet were low in magnesium, but I think that's changed; still, we don't want any chance of bladder problems, so no seafood! I will say that my Mensa cat, Pumpkin, lived to 21, and she only ate dry food, while her "stepsiblings" ate wet and lived to 18 and 19.

Angela Padovani
Angie P.2 years ago

My cat - Wet food, dry food, treats - as long as she eats and is happy is all I am concerned about. The dog eats her leftovers anyhow.

Marion Friedl
Marion Friedl2 years ago

Stop, I meant they get a lot of wet food, but only half a handful of dry food, hahaha!

Marion Friedl
Marion Friedl2 years ago

My 3 cats get a lot of dry food, but only half a handfull of dry food (each) every day because Thori had bladder stones again and again in his former home because of too much dry food, and they get fresh poultry once or twice the week, and sometimes also fresh fish or raw beef meat/liver, and Gizzy gets 2 eggs a week! Only Sisi gets a little more dry food sometimes because she´s so tiny and she won´t become fat if she gets a whole handfull of it, hahahaha!

judith sanders
judith sanders2 years ago

My vet is a cats-only vet, and she says wet food only, or at least 70% of the diet. To quote her, "cats are inefficient drinkers, and need to get much of their fluid intake from their food." Wet food may cost more, but it sure beats having your cat develop kidney problems and pee where you don't want it to.

Janet B.
Janet B.2 years ago

Thanks

scarlett g.
scarlett g.2 years ago

SWEETPEA, our gorgeous Calico is approaching 20 years....Vet suggested moist canned cat food much better at her age a couple of years ago, we are providing this in pate consistency, flavors,turkey,chicken and some ocean fish combo.......