Dear cat fans!
Over the years, I’ve often been asked: “What’s better? Wet or dry cat food?” The answer is they both have their benefits and it mainly depends on the circumstances. You’ll find as you read my posts that there really isn’t a “best” anything because honestly, it’s all relative. However, I will admit that I do have my favorites.
For any newly adopted, young cat that enters a home, I love the idea of a combination of wet and dry food. I personally feed Lando and Kingsley wet food in the AM and then dry food in the PM. I do this for a number of reasons.
Why Wet Food?
Most of you will ask, don’t cats just drink water on their own? Unfortunately, not enough as they should.
More water means more flushing of the entire urinary tract. You’ll notice I like the word “flush” here because it’s essentially the main purpose of water other than hydration. To “flush” means to cleanse by causing large quantities of water to pass through it. If we look at the urinary system (kidneys, bladder, urethra as one whole connecting tube, you’ll find that water is extremely vital to this system and here is why:
1. My cats are both males and males tend to have more urinary issues versus young females because they can be prone to urethral/urinary blockages where they cannot urinate. This is because of their longer urethra (the tube within the penis that connects the bladder to the opening of the penis). Now this doesn’t mean that all young males will experience it, but I do like to minimize the likelihood of it. For most, if not all urinary related diseases like crystals or stones in the bladder, sterile inflammation of the bladder and urinary tract infections (btw, “urinary disease of cats” will be another post down the line), wet food is ideal to help flush out the bladder. If any of you have ever had a urinary tract infection, your doctor will tell you to drink lots of water. You’ll urinate more and allow things to flush through better.
2. Ironically enough, some cats who never eat much wet food early on never gain much interest in wet food down the line. You’d think wet food is more palatable because of the smell and sauces associated with it, but I’ve met quite a handful of cats (my sister’s late cat included) who were never fed wet food when they were younger. Therefore, when they needed to consume wet food due to kidney disease (which is extremely common among older cats), they weren’t sold on it. Or they’d eat a little and much of the remainder of the can was wasted. So word of advice: Start early!
3. I touched on this in #2 but kidney disease often is the end result to all feline cats. Almost all cats fall ill to this disease. When kidneys fail in veterinary medicine, we perform diuresis, which is where we aggressively flush out the toxins in the blood with I.V. fluid therapy. The kidneys really like moisture, but what we are also doing is trying to flush out the toxins that have accumulated in the bloodstream due to kidneys no longer working effectively. This is why afterwards, we usually talk to owners about having them administer fluids under the skin and feeding a wet food diet, among other things.
Why Dry Food?
1. There’s one main reason—teeth. Dry food offers that crunchy texture that helps abrade some of the tartar. Again, it’s not an effective replacement for brushing or other dental hygiene alternatives, but it can provide some great benefit. I do notice that those people who feed only wet food to their cats without doing any other dental hygiene tend to have cats with heavier tartar/calculus than those who feed dry food. Dental disease is not benign. It can cause discomfort and infection, for more information refer to my posts on dental care (Part 1 Part 2). Like every other cat owner out there I’d like to minimize the times that I need to put my cats under general anesthesia for a deep teeth cleaning/extraction, dry food really helps in that regard.
2. Some would also argue that it’s also easier to feed and less “smelly.” I know a few people who have a hard time with the wet food smell. Although I don’t mind it, for those of you who can’t stand it, maybe by knowing that you can feed half wet and half dry will make things more tolerable! Or better yet, pass the task along to your significant other. It’s their cat, too!
Hope this helps clear up the question! Now it’s just finding the kind of foods that your cats will like! Let me know in the comments if you’d like me to go over some of my favorite brands!
Thanks for reading,
Dr. Theresa Loo