Every time we plan a meal for our cat, we’re faced with a series of decisions. What sort of mood is our cat in? Do they look like they want tuna or chicken? How much have they already eaten today? Do they even want their cat food, or are they secretly hoping that we’ll open the door to the fridge and give them a nice piece of ham? And if we are feeding them cat food (keep the real stuff for treats!), are we giving them dry or wet cat food?
The ‘dry or wet cat food’ debate has been going on for as long as both food types have existed. Some people give their cats a mixture of both dry and wet cat food. That isn’t a great idea. We’ve been doing our research, and there are risks associated with getting dry cat food wet. You can read about the risks associated with dry cat food at this link, which contains great levels of detail. Others prefer to give their cat a purely wet food based diet. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, but please read on for more information.
If you’re making choices about which type of food to use, you should educate yourself on all aspects, good and bad! This article is a companion piece. Please also read our guide to the pros and cons of dry cat food. Once you’re done considering the types of cat food, consider the different types of cat feeder you can use to make mealtimes easier. But you decided to read this page because you wanted more information on wet cat food. That’s what we’re here to do, so let’s get right into it!
Wet Cat Food – All That’s Good
If you’ve been feeding your cat wet cat food exclusively, it would be a worry to find out that there’s an issue with doing so. We have good news for you – there really isn’t. There are many benefits to a cat’s health that come with a wet cat food based diet, and these are the major plus points. Whether it’s cat food in jelly, cat food in gravy, or a complete wet cat food guide you’re after, we’ve got you covered!
1. Wet Food Keeps Cats Hydrated
A lot of cat owners worry that their cat doesn’t drink enough water. You might put a bowl of fresh water down at the start of the day, and most of it is still there when you go to replace it later. You might even buy a cat water fountain to see if it helps with the problem! In truth, there may not be a problem at all. If your cat eats all of its wet food, it’s probably getting all the water it needs to stay hydrated. Around three quarters of wet cat food is made up of water. Your cat isn’t refusing to drink. It’s just had enough already!
2. It’s A Great Source Of Protein
Like all carnivores, cats have a craving for protein. In fact, they can’t live without it. Their digestive systems rely on ingesting a significant amount of protein in order to function. Healthy wet cat food takes care of this need comfortably. Not only that, it also contains fat. We think of fat as a problem – and it can be if taken in excess – but both cats and humans need a little fat in order to keep the body ticking over. In a cat’s case, fat actually contributes to your cat’s ability to grow and maintain a glossy coat of fur. A cat that isn’t getting enough protein is likely to become constipated. Nobody wants that. High protein wet cat food will do a lot to avert that risk. Whilst we’re on the topic of their toilet habits, by the way, our cat litter tray guide is well worth a read.
3. It’s Good For Weight Control
When cats eat the best quality wet cat food, they get full a lot quicker than they do when they’re eating dry food. Part of this is because there’s so much water content, which fills them up. However it’s also because of the protein content. There’s little – or sometimes no – protein in dry food, and so cats keep eating it because they haven’t got what they want from it. Once they’ve had their protein fill from wet food, they’ll stop and walk away. As such, they take in lower portions, and are less prone to putting on weight.
4. It Naturally Appeals To Your Cat
Cats in the wild would never come across dry cat food. It can be alien to them, and cats who’ve been raised on wet cat food only diets sometimes refuse to eat it at all. That isn’t the case with wet food. The taste, texture and smell of wet cat food naturally appeals to them, and as such they’re automatically drawn to it. Cats are hunters, and the smell of meat makes them hungry. It’s as simple as that! Cat food with high meat content will likely be your cat’s favorite meal.
5. It’s Better For Your Cat’s Long Term Health
There are certain health conditions that can be aided by wet cat food. A lot of cats will suffer from urinary tract infections at some stage in their lives, and the moisture from high quality wet cat food can help with this. Any cat health condition that puts a strain on a cat’s kidney – for example diabetes, cancer or thyroid issues – can be soothed a little by eating healthy wet cat food. Dry cat food can have the opposite effect.
6. It’s Easier For Cats To Eat
You may have noticed that when your cat eats dry cat food, it really puts in the effort to chew it and break it down. That’s actually good for your cat’s dental health (and more on that later). Wet cat food is very easy for a cat to consume. That makes it a perfect choice for both young kittens, and older cats who’ve lost a few teeth. Cats with sensitive stomachs definitely prefer wet cat food. Getting moisture down their throat makes for fewer hairballs coming back out, too!
Wet Cat Food – All That’s Bad
Now we’ve covered the positives, let’s look at the negatives. There’s really not a lot to be worried about, though. As you’ve already seen, wet cat food has many practical and physical benefits to your cat, and most cats are fine to be fed on wet cat food alone if that’s what you really want to give them. You should always be aware of the downsides, though, and here they are.
1. It Doesn’t Keep For Long
When you put fresh wet cat food in a bowl for your cat, it’s good for about four hours. After that, with exposure to the air, bacteria begins to build up. When that happens, it’s no longer wise to let your cat eaten. Anything they’ve left should be thrown away. If you’ve tried to feed your cat when it isn’t hungry, or if your cat is the kind to graze and then walk away, that can mean a lot of wasted food. And that’s doubly a problem when you consider our next point.
2. It’s More Expensive Than Dry Cat Food
It doesn’t matter if you measure it by the bowl or by the packet, wet cat food is more expensive than dry cat food. That makes it doubly frustrating when you have to throw some away because kitty wasn’t hungry. A diet of wet cat food alone is an expensive diet. This is partially because of the ingredients, though. Wet cat food contains more of the things your cat needs, and as with any food, the better the content, the higher the price.
On the topic of those ingredients though, always be aware of what’s in there. MSG, white flour and corn syrup sometimes creep into wet cat food ingredients; especially cheap wet cat food; and they’re bad for your cat. Extensive scientific studies have been done into the benefits of different types of ingredient used in cat food, such as this one. So long as your budget allows it, we suggest staying away from cheap cat food tins or cheap cat food pouches.
3. It’s Messier Than Dry Cat Food
This is more of a concern for you than your cat, but it’s still something to bear in mind. Wet cat food can work its way into carpets and other furniture. It’s also not something you really want to pick up with your fingers and give to your cat as a treat! If you have a cat that likes to play with their food (aren’t they adorable when they do that?), be prepared to keep finding it all over the house. The smell should lead you to it.
4. It’s Not As Good For Your Cat’s Dental Health
Time for a miniature science lesson! When your cat eats dry food, the biting and scraping removes layers of plaque and tartar from its teeth. Not only that, but your cat has to generate extra saliva to cope with the dryness of the food. That extra saliva helps to wash the teeth, and keep them strong. None of this happens when your cat eats wet food alone. In fact, it’s not just the teeth, it’s the whole jaw! Eating dry food means your cat has to bite and chew hard to break the food down into digestible chunks. That strengthens the jaw and helps them to retain their bite.
5. It Can Contribute To Gum Disease
We want to be very clear here – the ingredients of wet cat food do not cause gum disease. However a cat that eats wet food and nothing else is prone to buildups of plaque which, if left unchecked, cause gum disease. A primarily wet food based diet can also give your cat very bad breath, because its mouth isn’t getting freshened or cleaned at any point! Help is at hand though. See our essential cat health aids guide for more information.
Am I Wrong To Feed My Cat Wet Food Only?
No, of course not. A cat that eats only wet cat food will get all of the nutrients that it needs. You might just have to take into account that its oral hygiene might need some maintenance. It’s not just about bad breath and teeth, there are other diet-related oral health considerations to consider for cat. We’ve read far and wide, and this oral health study contains all the information you could want on that front. That being said, we believe most cats should be fed a healthy balance of both types of cat food, keeping a few golden rules in mind.
- Do not mix wet and dry food together. The wet food makes the dry food moist, and the moisture can lead to bacteria generation.
- Be aware of allergies. Cats can have allergies just as people do. There are specialist ranges of cat food available for cats with dietary requirements, and you should be able to find options that suit everybody
- Don’t leave wet food out for too long. After four hours, it will have begun to spoil, and bacteria will have started to take hold. It has to be thrown away and replaced. You should also wash the bowl before adding new food. We know that’s frustrating, but it’s just the way it is.
- Always read the ingredients. As we said above, there are some ingredients that find their way into some brands of cat food, and they shouldn’t be there. If you’re looking at something which contains MSG, white flour and corn syrup, put it back on the shelf.
- Consult with your vet before changing your cat’s diet. A major change in diet can be very upsetting for a cat. They’re creatures of routine. If you want to significantly increase your pet’s wet cat food intake – especially if it’s for health reasons – seek professional advice first.
Specialist Wet Cat Food
The information we’ve provided on this page is intended to be general. We appreciate that some of the people reading this page will have kittens, senior cats, or cats with health issues. We want to give you all the information we can on diets for them, too. If you’d like more specific information about the best wet food for kittens, the best wet food for senior cats, wet cat food for sensitive stomachs, wet cat food for urinary health or even how to make your own wet cat food, click any of the highlighted links to be taken to the relevant page.
That’s our guide. Thanks for stopping by to read it. We hope you found it useful, and if you did, please share it among your cat loving friends! Make sure you read our guide to dry cat food, too. In the battle of wet food vs dry food for cats, there’s no real winner, just recommendations on how to balance the meals out. You’ll find the link at the top of this page.