When you bring home a kitty it can be difficult to choose between wet vs. dry cat food. Both are ultimately excellent sources of nutrition if you serve her an appropriate balance, and some pet parents decide to blend the two. Of course, each type of food presents its own advantages and disadvantages. Here's what you need to know so you can decide what's best for her.
Wet Food: The Upside
Wet cat food comes in canned, sometimes pre-measured portions that cats love. Cats diagnosed with certain medical conditions may also benefit from wet food. The higher moisture content in most canned products gives cats with urinary and kidney issues more water, according to PetMD, helping to flush urinary crystals more easily and reduce the risk of crystal formation as a result, as well as combating dehydration with kidney issues. Wet cat food may be a good way to help your cat stay hydrated if she has other health problems.
Wet Food: The Downside
There are disadvantages to the canned variety, though. Wet food generally costs more for its volume, so pet parents on a strict budget may prefer dry food to canned for supply reasons. Open cans need appropriately sized lids when storing them to keep them fresh and prevent odor from permeating the rest of the refrigerator (they should still be refrigerated to keep them from spoiling). Some cats dislike cold food, though, so you may need to put her canned food on a microwave-safe plate and warm it 3-5 seconds before serving. If your cat isn't particularly hungry, she may leave wet food scraps in her bowl or on her plate, which should be tossed after being out more than four hours.
Also, if you have a long-haired or light-colored cat, you might be averse to feeding wet cat food because it can get on her whiskers and nose. But cats are meticulous groomers and will typically clean their own faces, and over time your cat should learn to be less messy of an eater. If you happen to have a cat that is a little lazier and doesn't clean herself as regularly, you might look into serving her food on a flat plate and purchasing some cat-safe wet wipes to help her clean her face.
Dry Food: The Upside
Dry cat food is available in conveniently sized bags, keeping well up to the "best by date" on the bag as long as you reseal or clip it tightly after opening. It's less expensive than wet too, and because it stores for longer periods of time, can be gentler on your budget.
Some cats are perfectly content with dry food left as free-choice feeding, which is where you leave a bowl of food out for your cat to nibble on throughout the day. Other cats gorge on food and must be fed only portion-controlled meals. Luckily, you can easily use a standard measuring cup to control each serving for overweight or gluttonous felines.
Dry cat foods such as Ideal Balance® offer an excellent mix of products your cat needs just as much as you do in your own meals.
Dry Food: The Downside
For cats with health conditions, dry food may not be as beneficial as canned partially because it lacks the water content that makes it easier to digest. This is where a consultation with your cat's veterinarian is essential, helping you choose the best food for her needs. Keep in mind older cats may have a harder time eating dry food than wet, especially if gum or dental issues have set in. Canned cat food's soft consistency may be easier for older kitties to eat than the crunchy kibble they ate at a younger age.
Blended or Mixed Feeding
Blended or mixed feeding routines can offer the best of both worlds. With a blended feeding routine, you may feed your cat dry food in the morning, and wet in the evening. This way, she can graze on the dry food throughout the day if she chooses, and you can dispose of any dried out wet food before going to bed. There is also the option of mixing your cat's dry food with wet cat food, which can also help her get additional moisture with her meal. Keep in mind, though, that it is still important to maintain proper portion control to ensure your cat is getting the proper amount of nutrients to maintain a healthy weight.
No matter which type of cat food you choose, the debate between wet vs. dry cat food isn't one that's easily answered. Each cat is unique with her own tastes and preferences. Consult with your cat's vet if you have any questions about choosing wet vs. dry cat food, and let your little friend's tastes guide you to the flavors she prefers.
Jeanne Grunert is a book author, blogger and freelance writer from Virginia. She cares for six rescued cats and a rescued dog named Shadow on her 17 acre farm in Virginia.