Ron Swanson (A498126) was named after a television character from the “Parks and Recreation” series. He was found by a good Samaritan and taken to the shelter. True to his name, he remains a bit distant and aloof. An ideal home would be a quiet home with only adults willing to give it space and time to adjust. Are you that special person (Pasadena Humane)
This morning I did my two-week shopping in our shelter shop to get the most basic things for the dogs. As I walked through the store, I noticed how many options there are in terms of pet food. It’s daunting!
Another customer was browsing the cat food options and asked our caregiver for her opinion on wet food versus dry food for the kitten she just adopted from us. It became a long conversation about the pros and cons of each one.
So I thought, “This is my next column!” And promptly fell into a rabbit hole of articles online. As far as I can tell, there are pros and cons. So instead of landing on a solid recommendation, I’ll set out all the facts and let you decide what makes the most sense for your feline friend.
For the sake of simplicity: dry cat food
Dry cat food is convincing in the convenience category. For storage and easy feeding, dry cat food is the first choice. If you’re looking for something dirt-free and light to take away, let the kids help out, or let your cat sitter feed it while you’re away, cat food is the easiest choice. Dead easy.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t just make canned cat food too. In addition to dry cat food, it is certainly more convenient than homemade and raw food.
For hydration: wet cat food
Many cat nutrition experts warn against feeding cats only dry food. Dry food contains an average moisture content of 7-12%, which makes your pet prone to dehydration if they don’t drink a lot of water.
My cat Bailey didn’t like wet food, but luckily he loved drinking water so he could stay fairly well hydrated with an all-dry food diet.
Dry food is also quite high in sodium, which causes water retention and more dehydration. Since most cats have low thirst drive (again, Bailey didn’t have this problem, and so maybe your cat didn’t), your cat is likely to be at least slightly dehydrated if only fed dry food. Remember that even mild chronic dehydration can lead to urinary tract problems and health complications.
Fun Fact: In the wild, cats would get most of their hydration from the prey they would be eating, which is usually 60-70% water. With 70-80% moisture content, canned or wet cat food comes very close to your kitty’s natural prey food.
Pro tip: try to choose a wet food with a moisture content close to 70%. While hydration is good, you don’t want to mainly pay for water.
For urinary tract problems: wet food for cats
Indoor cats, especially neutered males, are prone to urinary tract problems. Urinary tract infections, kidney stones, idiopathic cystitis in cats, and lower urinary tract disorders can all result from chronic dehydration in your cat.
Because canned cat food naturally contains more moisture than dry food, your cat will be less dehydrated. It’s that simple. Switching from dry to canned food, or even including wet food in your cat’s everyday life, is the best thing you can do for your cat’s kidney health.
All cats with health problems that put stress on their kidneys, such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and cancer, to name a few, would benefit greatly from switching from dry food to canned food.
For picky eaters: it’s a tie
Cats are a picky bunch! While some cats simply love the strong flavors and aromas of wet food, others will be reluctant to do so. Bailey not only resisted, he hissed in protest.
When you switch from dry food to canned food (or vice versa), your cat may show some resistance – even a lot of resistance.
For more protein, less carbohydrates: wet cat food
This is Los Angeles, the capital of the low-carb lifestyle, after all.
Canned cat food generally contains more meat than dry food, which is why it is usually more expensive. This is great news for cats who are voracious carnivores and require few, if any, carbohydrates.
For food safety: dry cat food
Dry cat food can be poured into a bowl and left all day. Since many cats are herbivores, this works fine and makes it easy for cat owners with irregular schedules to feed their pets. Just be careful not to mix water in your pet’s dry food, as mixing water with dry food can lead to bacterial contamination.
For weight loss: wet cat food
Again, moisture is the key factor in wet cat food. The high water content of canned cat food makes it perfect for weight loss or maintenance for your cat, as water will help your pet feel full. The high protein and low carbohydrate content also helps as it promotes satiety and prevents your cat from returning to the bowl hungry after just a few hours.
For dental health: dry cat food
Dry cat food can be better for dental health than wet food, but a dry food diet is far from complete dental care. Any diet is limited in its dental benefits if you don’t use daily tooth brushing (or no tooth brushing at all).
Brushing your cat’s teeth is still the best way to promote healthy teeth in your cat. Oral probiotics like Evorapet, which can be added to both dry and wet cat foods, have also shown promise in reducing the bacteria that cause gum infection and bad breath in cats.
For easy eating: wet cat food
If you have a young kitten, a cat with tooth loss, or a cat with a sensitive stomach, wet cat food can help. Wet cat food makes the transition from milk or baby food to solid food easier, as it is very easy to eat and is easy on the stomach of young cats. Some cats who have lost many teeth and have difficulty eating can only eat canned food that is moist.
If your cat is new to wet food, it can lead to an upset stomach or diarrhea. The effect is usually temporary and a result of transition. Try a slower transition and mix some of your cat’s previous food with the new food. You may need to experiment to find the wet food that will work best for your cat. Every cat’s system is a little different!
The best for health: wet food for cats
Canned cat food is the clear winner when it comes to keeping your cat healthy. Your cat will benefit from including wet food in their diet, whether you switch to all canned foods or just serve it a few times a week.
In addition, canned cat food can offer numerous benefits in terms of urinary tract health, meat protein content, and weight loss for your cat. However, the best food choices for your pet must always be weighed against all the pros and cons.
There is no single food solution for every pet. Choose what works best for your pet and lifestyle. Above all, always choose the cheapest food that you can afford for your cat, regardless of whether it is dry or dry food, homemade or raw.
Have fun chewing!