Wet vs. Dry Cat Food - Which is Better?

Is Wet or Dry Cat Food Better?

Choosing the right cat food is vital for maintaining the health and wellbeing of your feline friend. There are so many options it can be hard to know what you should be feeding your kitty.

Cat food can be broadly categorised based on its moisture content. So in this article we’ll break down the differences between wet and dry cat food.

After reading, you’ll know the pros and cons of these food options, so you can figure out what works best for you and your kitty.

Wet Cat Food

wet cat food

Generally available in cans or pouches, wet cat food has a high moisture content of around 70-80% water.

This high moisture level is wet cat food’s biggest benefit. In nature they would get a lot of their water from eating fresh prey. Wet food imitates their natural diet more closely than dry food, and helps reduce dehydration.

Benefits of Wet Cat Food

  • Improves overall hydration - You should always provide plenty of fresh water, but many cats won’t drink enough, which can lead to dehydration. So the high moisture content is excellent at improving kitty hydration levels.
  • Can be beneficial for cats with medical conditions such as kidney and urinary issues by reducing the risk of dehydration and crystal formation.
  • The soft texture means it is easier for older cats to chew wet food.
  • It normally contains high amounts of protein and fewer carbohydrates when compared to dry cat food.
  • The high amount of animal-sourced protein is great at helping your cat meet their nutritional requirements. Protein is vital for strong muscles and lean body mass.
    firstmate salmonAn example of a high quality wet food is FirstMate Salmon canned cat food.

Disadvantages of Wet Cat Food

  • Wet cat food is typically more expensive than dry food, so cost can be the main issue for some cat parents.
  • Once opened, wet cat food has a low shelf life and shouldn’t be left out for more than a couple of hours. Any food left in their bowl should then be discarded, which can lead to food wastage if your cat isn’t hungry.
  • Takes up fridge space - Once the package has been opened, the unused food needs to be covered well, and stored in the fridge to prevent spoilage.
  • Some cats don’t like to eat fridge cold food, so you might find yourself heating it in the microwave before serving.
  • Can be messy - If your cat has long hair, a few bits of wet food might stick to her nose and whiskers. We recommended serving food in a wider dish, and using wet wipes to clean your cat’s face when needed.

Dry Cat Food

dry cat food

A quick and easy option, dry cat food is generally available as large bags of kibble. The moisture content in dry cat food is only about 10%. The other 90% of dry food is made of dry matter, normally including protein, carbohydrates, fats, and more. 

Advantages of Dry Cat Food

  • Dry cat food is cheaper than wet cat food and so is a more cost-effective option.
  • Quick, convenient and mess free. You can just pour it from the bag into their bowl.
  • Due to its low moisture content, it can be left out in a cat dish for longer than wet food. It can be left out safely for up to 48 hours before going stale, but we recommend changing it daily. When oils in the food come into contact with the air, oxidation occurs and the dry food becomes rancid and unpalatable to your cat.
  • Because of its high shelf life, you can store the opened bag of food for a longer period (with no need for a fridge). Make sure to squeeze any excess air from the bag to stop it going stale.
dry food

An example of a high quality dry food is Acana Bountiful Catch.

Disadvantages of Dry Cat Food

  • As it is a hard, dry kibble, it can be difficult for older cats to chew.
  • Since cats have a low thirst drive, your cat is likely at least mildly dehydrated if they eat a dry food only diet. Even mild chronic dehydration can lead to urinary tract issues, kidney stones, and other health complications.
  • Dry kibble is dense and low in moisture, with a high amount of carbohydrates and lower protein levels, so it is easy for your cat to overeat, which can lead to obesity.
  • Dry foods normally contain more fillers and a high amount of salt and sugar. The high sodium content of your feline's food can lead to water retention and more dehydration.
  • The protein content of dry cat food is typically lower than wet cat foods.

Combining Wet And Dry Cat Food (Mixed Feeding)

mixed feeding

Feeding your cat dry food only makes your pet susceptible to dehydration due to its low moisture content. On the other hand, strictly following wet food feeding can be costly, and doesn’t support dental health in the same way as dry kibble.

So feeding your cat a combination of dry and wet cat food is a great option that offers the benefits of both diets.

For example, you might choose to feed dry food in the morning and wet food in the evening, or you might top dry food with a portion of wet food.

At Catoro we believe this is the best option for a lot of people, and so we feed our cats a balanced diet with mixed feedings of both wet and dry foods.

Our cats eat Boréal and FirstMate canned cat foods to provide them with high quality protein. And we supplement their diet with our sponsors’ Orijen and Acana dry kibble.

Cats love trying out new things, and mixing both types of food not only gives the best of both worlds but also gives your cat a variety of texture and flavours. This increases the palatability of food and gives your cat a varied diet so they don’t get bored.

If you plan to mix the food types, make sure you introduce them to your cat gradually. Be sure to consult your vet before you make any changes to your cat’s diet.

Overall, the most important thing is that your cat’s diet is age appropriate and provides all the nutrients they need to thrive and live a healthy, happy life.

How to Choose The Right Cat Food

cat hunting

Always read the ingredients list of cat foods you are considering. Cats are obligate carnivores, and need a lot of protein, and few to no carbohydrates.

High quality cat foods should always have a single named animal protein as the first ingredient, and a high percentage of protein should come from meat or fish.

Look for foods with almost no carbohydrates or starches, such as Boréal Tuna in Gravy (a Cat Forest favourite).

Typically canned cat foods have better quality ingredients, a higher meat content and less carbohydrates than dry cat food. So even if the cost is more expensive up front, it benefits your cat. Supporting your kitty’s health is important to help avoid future medical issues and expenses.

Foods containing only natural preservatives (Vitamin C/E) or no preservatives are best, and if you can find cat food made with human-grade ingredients, you can feel much more confident that it is safe and healthy for your cat.

‘Bad’ Cat Food Ingredients

cat eating

‘Bad’ ingredients are unnecessary, low-quality and potentially unhealthy ingredients that don’t benefit your cat and may even lead to health issues.

For example, ingredients like excessive carbohydrates, sugar, artificial colours and chemical preservatives.

Grains are often used to increase the protein content of cat food, yet they are not naturally part of a cat’s diet and are not nutritionally beneficial to your cat.

A Few Ingredients to Avoid:

  • White flour
  • Cheap fillers like rice
  • MSG
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • BHT
  • BHA
  • Unnamed Meat Byproducts
  • Corn and wheat gluten
  • Food Dyes (e.g. Blue 2, Red 40)
  • Meat and grain meals and by-products

Our Recommendation:

Here at Catoro, we take care of many rescue cats and that means feeding them every day. Our mission is to help create better lives for cats everywhere, so that means we only feed our cats the best.

This mission also includes your cat and kitties everywhere, by making sure high quality cat supplies are available to everyone.

So, we sell a variety of healthy cat foods (and you can save 10% on future orders if you subscribe for a recurring monthly order with our automatic Refills program).

Whenever changing a cat’s diet, do it gradually and try to keep other things the same so that they can transition smoothly.

If you want to find out more about the brands we support and recommend, explore our Wet Cat Food options or check out our Dry Cat Foods and see the high quality options we have available.

Thank you for reading and we hope this article was helpful for you!