Wet vs dry cat food

Feeding your cat can be a bit of a minefield.  What should you feed: wet, dry, raw, a mixture?  There are many different opinions out there, some with a scientific basis but many without.  Here are some thoughts about the pros and cons of the different options.

Wet Food

Ragdoll kitten eating from bowlBenefits
  • increases fluid intake
  • smell stronger so cats more likely to want to eat
  • more filling with fewer calories due to increased water content
  • more sticky so may increase dental problems
  • balanced foods provide all the required nutrients for your cat
  • more expensive
  • may have unpleasant odour for people
  • goes off quicker if not eaten

Dry food

Ragdoll kitten with mouse feederBenefits
  • can be left down without going off quickly
  • often cheaper
  • can be used in puzzle feeders to keep boredom at bay and encourage exercise
  • less unpleasant odour
  • some formulations can help keep teeth clean
  • can be used as a training treat
  • balanced foods provide all the required nutrients for your cat
  • cats may not drink sufficient water on their own
  • eating a little bit too much can make a big impact leading to obesity

Raw food

Raw meat and supplementsBenefits
  • closer to the ‘natural’ diet of cats
  • often higher meat content than other foods
  • some proponents claim reduced dental and gastrointestinal diseases
  • expensive
  • higher risk of bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter which can be particularly dangerous to children
  • difficult to give a balanced diet
  • need to handle raw meat and offal
  • goes off quickly if not eaten immediately

What does this all mean?

My own recommendation would be to feed a mix of wet and dry foods, ideally 2 small meals of wet food with any supplementary calories made up with dry food in puzzle feeders to encourage play and exercise.  Fresh, ideally running, water should be freely available.

Calculating the amounts to feed can be more difficult when feeding a mixture as not many manufacturers give guidelines for this.  Regular weighing of your cat and assessing their body condition score is important so that you can adjust the amount fed as needed.  I can also provide a nutrition advice service via Pawsitive Vet Care.

Recommended foods

Hills Science Plan

Royal Canin

Purina Pro-Plan

Lily’s Kitchen

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Pet Food Myths

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