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Wet vs. Dry Cat Food

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Special Cat Feeding Guide 

Which is better for your feline, wet cat food or dry? Pet nutrition experts don’t have a definitive answer but agree there are pros and cons for each. Some recommend feeding a mix of both. Use this cat feeding guide to compare dry and wet cat food; then ask your veterinarian to recommend the best food for your cat’s age, weight and lifestyle needs.

Benefits

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Wet Cat Food

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Dry Cat Food

Has high moisture content

(up to 78%)

(6-10% moisture)

Helps keep your cat hydrated

 
 

Energy dense

(Cats can consume calories quickly)

 
 

Can provide cats with added vitamins and minerals

 
 

Contains essential nutrients like taurine

 
 

Doesn't require refrigeration after opening

 
 

Long shelf life; easy to stack and store

 
 


How many times should a cat eat each day?

Cats' caloric and nutritional requirements can vary based on age, reproductive status and individual metabolism. Always ask your veterinarian to recommend how much food your cat should consume daily, based on your feline’s weight, health and lifestyle needs. 

How much wet food should you feed your cat?

On average, adult cats eat approximately one to three servings of food per day. Your veterinarian will weigh your cat, determine her ideal weight and recommend the amount of daily calories necessary to achieve or maintain that weight. Divide the number of recommended calories per day by the number of calories per serving to determine your cat’s daily allowance. Remember to include any calories your cat consumes from dry food and treats when you calculate.

Why feed wet cat food? 

Felines require up to three times more protein in their diets than dogs do. Wet cat food often has high protein content, which benefits obligate carnivores like cats who depend on animal proteins to meet their nutritional needs.

With an average of 75% water, wet cat food can also help your cat meet daily hydration needs, especially since felines tend to not drink enough water. The high moisture content in wet food may be beneficial for cats with urinary tract problems, diabetes or kidney disease stay hydrated.  

Also, wet cat food is often more appealing than dry food and is offered in a wide variety of flavors and textures to please all types of felines.

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Pro Tip: Don’t let wet cat food sit out in your cat’s bowl more than 20-30 minutes. Canned cat food doesn’t stay fresh as long as dry food, so be sure to refrigerate any leftover food and serve it within 72 hours. On the plus side, wet food has a long shelf before it’s opened and, with smaller, stackable containers, is easier to stock up on than larger cat food bags.

How much wet food should you feed a kitten? 

Kittens should eat about three times a day. It’s a good idea to set up a feeding schedule, like morning, afternoon, and evening to control your kitten’s diet more easily and ensure she doesn’t overeat.

Can kittens eat adult wet food? Your kitten has different nutritional needs than an adult or mature cat. Whether wet kitten food or dry, check the package to be sure the food is labeled as complete and balanced and formulated specifically for this healthy growth life stage. Plus, kitten food can contain DHA & ARA, which help support brain and eye development. 

You can see a complete list of pet food label requirements at AAFCO.org.

What are the benefits of feeding dry food?

High-quality dry cat food usually contains up to 10% moisture, an animal protein source, vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients and can feature a delicious variety of meat, poultry and seafood. 

Dry food is convenient because it can be left out in your cat’s bowl to be eaten throughout the day. Remember to store unused portions of dry cat food in cool, dry places.

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Pro Tip: Keep dry recipes in their original bags and store in airtight containers to help preserve its nutritional value and flavor. Be sure to check expiration dates before using.

Should I feed both wet and dry cat food?

One of the best ways to entice a finicky cat is to mix wet and dry cat food for a variety of flavors and recipe combinations, but watch out for weight gain. Eating too much wet or dry food can cause your cat to become obese. No matter what type of food your feline prefers, always feed a diet that contains high-quality, nutritious ingredients that can help your cat stay healthy throughout her life.