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Wet Cat Food Vs. Dry Cat Food: Which is Better?

  •   4 min reads
Wet Cat Food Vs. Dry Cat Food: Which is Better?
Most cats enjoy having different types of food, so it is usually a good idea to combine wet and dry cat food in each meal or serve wet food in the morning and dry food in the evening to provide the variety they crave. (Photo : CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons | Marco Verch / ccnull.de)
By Niko Gabriel Salgado

As a pet owner, choosing the right food for your cat is one of the most critical decisions you will make for their health and well-being. Cats, with their particular dietary needs, require a balanced diet. The two primary options available are wet cat food and dry cat food. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, and understanding these can help you make an informed decision for your furry companion.

Nutritional Content and Hydration

One of the most significant differences between wet and dry cat food is their moisture content.

“Wet cat food typically contains between 70-80% moisture, while dry cat food contains around 10%. This high moisture content in wet food is particularly beneficial for cats, as they are naturally prone to dehydration,” said Dr. Allan Walters in the “Feline Diet: Wet vs Dry Food” published in the Paws Natural website.

Unlike dogs, cats often do not drink enough water on their own, relying heavily on their food for hydration. Wet food can help maintain urinary tract health and prevent conditions such as kidney disease and urinary crystals.

In terms of nutritional content, both wet and dry foods can provide a balanced diet, but it is important to check the labels for quality. Wet food often contains fewer carbohydrates and more protein and fat, which aligns more closely with a cat’s natural diet. Dry food, on the other hand, tends to have more carbohydrates due to the manufacturing process.

This is Grey, a rescue of Save Animals of Love and Light-Save ALL. Although cats are known to not drink water on their own, Grey is an avid water drinker, removing the need to incorporate wet food in his diet. But of course, he still gets both wet and dry food to balance his diet.

Dental Health

A commonly cited benefit of dry cat food is its positive impact on dental health. The crunchy texture can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup as the cat chews. While dry food can contribute to dental hygiene, it is not a substitute for regular dental care, such as brushing your cat’s teeth or professional cleanings by a veterinarian. Some cats may not chew their dry food thoroughly, reducing its effectiveness in cleaning their teeth.

Convenience and Cost

Dry cat food is generally more convenient for pet owners. It has a longer shelf life, does not require refrigeration once opened, and is easier to store. It’s also simpler to measure and leave out for cats that prefer to graze throughout the day. This convenience often makes dry food the preferred choice for busy pet owners.

Cost is another factor where dry food typically has an advantage. Dry cat food is less expensive than wet food. For households with multiple cats or those on a tight budget, dry food can be a more economical option.

Taste and Digestibility

“Cats can be notoriously picky eaters, and wet food is often more palatable and appetizing due to its texture and aroma,” said Dr. Walters.

“The variety of flavors and textures available in wet food can entice even the fussiest of eaters, making it an excellent option for cats with reduced appetites or specific dietary needs,” Dr. Walters added.

In terms of digestibility, wet food can be easier for some cats to digest, particularly those with dental issues or older cats with reduced chewing ability. The high moisture content also aids in digestion, helping to prevent constipation.

Weight Management

Obesity is a common problem among domestic cats, and diet plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy weight.

“Wet food, with its higher moisture content, can help cats feel fuller faster, which can aid in weight control. The lower carbohydrate content in wet food also aligns better with a cat’s carnivorous nature, potentially reducing the risk of weight gain compared to high-carb dry foods,” Dr. Walters noted.

Portion control is important regardless of the type of food. Overfeeding, whether wet or dry food, can lead to obesity and associated health problems. Pet owners should follow feeding guidelines and consult their veterinarian to determine the appropriate portion sizes.

Special Dietary Needs

Cats with specific health conditions may benefit from a particular type of food. For instance, cats with urinary tract issues often do better on wet food due to its high moisture content. Some prescription dry foods are formulated to address specific health concerns, such as weight management, dental health, or gastrointestinal issues.

A Balanced Approach

Ultimately, the choice between wet and dry cat food depends on your cat’s individual needs and preferences, as well as your lifestyle and budget. Many veterinarians recommend a mixed diet to leverage the benefits of both types of food. Offering both wet and dry food can provide a balanced diet, promote hydration, support dental health, and keep your cat engaged with a variety of flavors and textures.

Regardless of the type of food you choose, always go for the high-quality products that meet your cat’s nutritional requirements. Consult with your veterinarian to ensure your cat’s diet is well-balanced and tailored to their specific health needs. With the right approach, you can ensure your feline friend enjoys a healthy, happy, and well-nourished life.

This article also appears in the Manila Standard

About the Author: Niko Gabriel Salgado is a graduate of consular and diplomatic affairs from De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, and worked at the House of Representatives. He is now an entrepreneur and a volunteer of the animal welfare group Save Animals of Love and Light- Save ALL.

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