The wet food vs dry food debate is one of the biggest debates between cat owners. Some owners prefer to feed their cat an entirely dry or wet diet, while others prefer a mixed diet. The choice usually lies with what your cat will eat (especially if they’re fussy eaters like ours!) some cats will turn their nose up at wet food while others love it – its a good idea to try and find foods your cat like before deciding what diet to go for.
In this article we are going to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of both wet and dry food to help you choose what diet is best for your cat.
In the wild cats, will obtain most of the moisture they need to stay hydrated through their prey, in a modern-day, house cat environment they will receive their hydration through whatever their owner feeds them. Cats are carnivores so are designed to consume high levels of protein, they require this to keep up their energy levels. Therefore, wet food being both high in protein and high in moisture is sufficient to fulfil your cats’ dietary needs.
Wet food normally contains a higher level of protein than dry food and less carbohydrates than dry food, making it closer to their natural prey diet.
Wet food can be purchases in both sachets and cans, the chunks are usually in a meat gravy or in a meat jelly. They have wet food for cats of all ages and stages of life. Diet specific wet food is also available for cats with health problems.
Cats usually prefer wet food to dry food and will usually eat more in one sitting when given wet food.
Advantages Of Wet Food
- There is an increased amount of fats and proteins provided in wet food (in comparison to dry food). These are essential for a balanced diet for your cat and will mimic the diet maintained by cats in the wild.
- Wet food contains water which is essential for your cat’s wellbeing. It can be hard to get cats to drink enough water to keep them hydrated so by providing them with wet food you are increasing their water intake. Hydration is important to prevent urinary tract infections that are common in cats.
- Cats usually prefer wet food to dry food due to its moist consistency and appealing scent. Even fussy cats can usually be tempted by wet food. Wet food is a good choice if you are trying to increase your cat’s food intake or to encourage fussy cats to eat.
- Senior cats that have lost some of their olfactory senses may only want to eat foods that are rich in flavour and have a strong smell, wet food is therefore perfect for this.
Disadvantages of Wet Food
- A disadvantage of wet food is that it can be more costly than dry food. It is not always budget friendly and may not be a suitable option for everyone. However, there are many budget wet foods available (however they may contain less protein and more fillers so please check the ingredients).
- Wet food can produce more mess, especially if your cats are messy eaters and like to drag it on the floor (mine do). Feeding them on a wipeable mat will help make the messy easier to clean after feeding.
- Another disadvantage of wet food is the short shelf life which can lead to wastage. Once opened it must be eaten within 24 hours otherwise it spoils and becomes inedible. You may find you cat leaves it in the bowl to go dry and refuses to eat it, it needs to be thrown away at this point.
- There is a correlation between cats with dental problems and being fed predominately wet food. Wet food is known to stain cats teeth and get stuck in-between them, therefore can result in more dental issues in the long run.
In terms of nutrition dry food usually contains less protein and more carbohydrates which can lead to increased risk of diabetes. Some cats digestive systems may struggle to digest dry food so their cat puts weight on more quickly. However high quality dry food is available which contain a higher nutritional content and this should be used if your cat is having a dry food only diet. Low carbohydrate and grain free dry food is available.
Dry food is a good option for free-feeding due to having a longer shelf life and cats usually prefer to snack on dry foods rather than eat it all at once.
Convenience wise dry food is the better option in terms of price and storage, you can pick budget dry food up for very cheap and bulk buy easily. It usually comes as kibble in bags or boxes.
Advantages of Dry Food
- Dry food is usually cheaper than wet food so therefore more budget friendly.
- Dry food has a longer shelf life once opened than wet food. It can be left out for days without spoiling meaning you get more value for your money as it is less likely to be wasted.
- Due to the long shelf life it also means it can be used for free-feeding. Dry food can be left in your cats bowl through the day for your cat to snack on. This is especially good if you have gone to work for the day and leaves you without the fear of your cat eating spoiled food.
- It produces less mess than wet food due to the kibble being dry so will not cause stains on floors/surfaces.
- Some dry food has been proven to help improve dental health in cats by having teeth cleaning properties. However not all dry food has been proven to do this and you should check your chosen brand’s information on health benefits for more details on this.
Disadvantages of Dry Food
- Dry foods contain less protein and more carbohydrates and sugar which can contribute to obesity and diabetes. In a predominately dry food diet you may have to make sure the dry food you are buying has a high enough protein content to fulfil your cats dietary needs.
- There is a lack of moisture in dry foods compared to wet foods. This can cause dehydration in older cats and in cats who don’t drink enough water. This also means an increased risk of urinary tract infections if your cat is eating only dry food and not drinking enough water.
- Some dry foods also contain ingredients such as wheat, onion and garlic which are not suitable for cats to eat and can cause your cat to become sick. Make sure you check the ingredients and avoid and dry foods that contain ingredients not suitable for cats to consume.
Best of Both
Many cat owners give their cat the best of both worlds by providing both dry and wet food. This is a good option as it ensures your cat is getting a high protein diet from the wet food, but the dry food is also convenient to use if your cat is left alone during the day.
The size of meals may need to be adjusted if switching to a mixed diet of wet and dry food, please see the feeding guidance on specific brands for feeding information.
Fresh clean water should be available 24 hours a day for your cat to drink to ensure they are always hydrated no matter what diet your cat is on.
Both types of food have different benefits. Choosing the perfect diet for your cat really depends on to your preference and your cats state of health.
We personally feed our cats a mixed diet, as our cats are very fussy eaters and will only eat certain brands, they will eat dry food but in small portions so a dry only diet would not provide them with enough nutrition. We feed them wet food in the morning and the evening and leave dry food in the day for them to graze on.
Keep feeding your cat what you think is best for them with high quality cat food and for best advice on the most suitable diet for your cat always consult a vet.