Cat Food – Wet Vs Dry

Everyone has their own viewpoint on whether they should feed their cat wet food or dry food and many of us choose the middle ground to offer them both. So what are the advantages of one over the other?

Understanding cat physiology

The first step in understanding what your cat needs from its food is to understand a little about their physiology and how their body works. Many people think cats and dogs are much the same in their food, but this isn’t the case – dogs are omnivores, meaning they can digest both vegetable and animal protein. On the other hand, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need muscle based meats in their diet to get all the goodness to be healthy.

The other main element that they need is called taurine and this is only found in the muscle meat of animals, not in any kind of plant material.

Carnivores also tend to have a short digestive system because they aren’t designed to digest the tough cellulose that is found in plants so if they do eat this kind of material, it doesn’t digest properly in their systems.

Dry food

For many cat owners, dry food is used as a supplement to best wet cat food to allow cats to eat a few bites when they like. As long as the cat eats the wet food to supplement it, then this usually works. The problem comes if they won’t eat the wet food for two reasons. One problem is water levels and the other is the content of the kibble.

Dry food often makes use of fillers to complete the ingredients and these are often carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are harder for cats to process because again they don’t eat this kind of food in the wild. The amount of filler in the food can also have a negative effect on their overall nutrition if they eat too much without wet food to balance it.


Water is the other reason that a diet heavy on dry food can lead to problems. In the wild, cats get around 70% of their water from their prey and wet cat food substitutes for this, providing over 75% of their water. Dry food only provides some 10% water so if they eat too much kibble and don’t drink water to compensate, they are in danger of dehydration. This can also lead to conditions such as chronic renal failure and urinary crystals.

So whenever there is dry food available, it is important that there is fresh, clean water for them to drink to compensate for its dryness.

Wet food

While all this seems to indicate that wet food is somewhat superior to dry food, this isn’t always the case. A low quality wet food will provide less nutrition than a dry food does so the first step to getting the right wet food is checking the ingredients. The first item on the list of ingredients should always be a named protein source such as chicken or turkey or a type of fish. If there is anything above this protein on the ingredients list, the food is poor nutritionally.


There is some evidence that cats on a dry food only diet are more prone to diabetes and obesity than those that eat wet food, partly due to the amount of carbohydrates they eat. So just like with a human’s diet, the best idea for a cat’s diet is moderation and a good balance – the basis being wet food with dry food to supplement it, a bit like a good meal following by a small dessert.

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