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Getting Opinions on Dry vs Wet Cat Food

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  • May 14th, 2013 11:24 am
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[OP]
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Mar 26, 2013
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Ottawa

Getting Opinions on Dry vs Wet Cat Food

I've been doing a lot of research about the topic, but everyone has their own opinion. So I thought I'd ask here as well just to get a discussion going.

I have had cats since I was a child, but my mom always selected their diet. It consisted of 2 portions of wet food a day (one in the morning and one at night) and then free feed cat crunchies. This obviously was not the proper way to go, as the cats she owned were more on the obese side. She cut back on the dry food and provided more wet food for them, but I've heard different things saying wet food is better, or wet food is only good once or twice a week.

When I adopted my cat, I asked the representative how much wet food she would recommend in his diet. She said once or twice a week for a treat, because dry food is better for their teeth. I've also heard though, that high quality wet food contains more proteins and it should be the only food a cat should eat.

I just want to know what your opinions are. I am currently weaning my cat off of the Iams that the shelter was feeding him onto a better branded dry food, but I'm still trying to figure out what would be best for him and his diet. He's a healthy, normal 1 year old cat and I just want to do what's best for him.

Thanks!
9 replies
Deal Guru
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Aug 20, 2005
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Cats are obligate carnivores. An obligate carnivore subsists on a diet consisting mainly of meat, because it does not possess the physiology to digest vegetable matter. Now read the label on your dry food and you decide. Cats get their energy from protein not carbohydrates. Ideally a cat should eat raw meat but in the absence of that, canned cat food will do. Avoid the ones with lots of gravy and unnecessary fruits, vegetables and rice. I suggest you read this article on the basics of feline nutrition.

Note my cat used to love dry food until she developed diabetes which is becoming an epidemic in cats. The difference in her on canned food versus dry is night and day. She was near death but changing her diet was all that was needed to get her off insulin and bring her back to health. She was 8 when she got sick and she is a youthful 15 today. Even the so-called lowest carb dry food is still too high in carbs for her.
Deal Fanatic
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May 9, 2006
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Also choosing wet over dry is dehydration. If dogs only eat dry food, they will (for the most part) drink more water. Cats don't. That means cats on strictly dry food will have a much higher likelihood of being constantly dehydrated. This can lead to serious problems later. The link Cheap Cat provided has lots of information on that as well.

Now assuming your mother was feeding quality brands, there's really nothing wrong with her strategy... just cut down on the portion size. I have two cats who get wet twice a day. They get a little dry food at night as a snack (mainly so they don't wake me up at 4am because they are hungry).
Sr. Member
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Apr 8, 2007
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Milton
joeyjoejoe wrote:
May 10th, 2013 8:32 am
Also choosing wet over dry is dehydration. If dogs only eat dry food, they will (for the most part) drink more water. Cats don't. That means cats on strictly dry food will have a much higher likelihood of being constantly dehydrated. This can lead to serious problems later. The link Cheap Cat provided has lots of information on that as well.

Now assuming your mother was feeding quality brands, there's really nothing wrong with her strategy... just cut down on the portion size. I have two cats who get wet twice a day. They get a little dry food at night as a snack (mainly so they don't wake me up at 4am because they are hungry).
This is what we do too. Our cat gets wet food twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, then we give her some dry food as a snack overnight. Works pretty well.
[OP]
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Mar 26, 2013
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Ottawa
joeyjoejoe wrote:
May 10th, 2013 8:32 am
Also choosing wet over dry is dehydration. If dogs only eat dry food, they will (for the most part) drink more water. Cats don't. That means cats on strictly dry food will have a much higher likelihood of being constantly dehydrated. This can lead to serious problems later. The link Cheap Cat provided has lots of information on that as well.

Now assuming your mother was feeding quality brands, there's really nothing wrong with her strategy... just cut down on the portion size. I have two cats who get wet twice a day. They get a little dry food at night as a snack (mainly so they don't wake me up at 4am because they are hungry).
My mom's cats did have a problem with dehydration. We ended up getting them a water fountain that moved the water to increase interest in it. Not sure if it derived from the wet food, but it might have as one of my cats was not a fan of the kibble and waited only for the 2 wet meals.

She did go with pretty bad brands, so I tried to explain the benefits of healthier foods (like they eat less of the food because it's more filling, less health problems) and she's since switched. Their portion sizes are pretty large still. I like the idea of wet in day and night and then dry food over night. It's a decently scheduled feeding strategy.
Cheap Cat wrote:
May 10th, 2013 1:21 am
Cats are obligate carnivores. An obligate carnivore subsists on a diet consisting mainly of meat, because it does not possess the physiology to digest vegetable matter. Now read the label on your dry food and you decide. Cats get their energy from protein not carbohydrates. Ideally a cat should eat raw meat but in the absence of that, canned cat food will do. Avoid the ones with lots of gravy and unnecessary fruits, vegetables and rice. I suggest you read this article on the basics of feline nutrition.

Note my cat used to love dry food until she developed diabetes which is becoming an epidemic in cats. The difference in her on canned food versus dry is night and day. She was near death but changing her diet was all that was needed to get her off insulin and bring her back to health. She was 8 when she got sick and she is a youthful 15 today. Even the so-called lowest carb dry food is still too high in carbs for her.
After going to the pet store last night, we were looking ideally for a dry food that had mostly proteins, and most of them had actual meat as the first ingredient, then tons of chicken/salmon meal and grains. There was one brand that we were interested in (Halo) because it seemed to have a lot of natural ingredients and meat as the main content and more afterwards (no by products or meals), but it contained a lot of fruits and vegetables after that, which I guess is better than simply grains. The wet foods definitely won the protein content contest.

I would probably feel more comfortable feeding with just wet foods in the long run, but maybe there's a way to balance both. I am currently reading the link you left and it's very informative and helpful, and is certainly steering me towards the wet food alone.
We were actually discussing this before, but didn't have a lot of resources and information, thank you! Ideally, this would probably be the best option, or at least home made so I know what's going into my cat's body.
Deal Addict
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Aug 9, 2003
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Toronto
The information on catinfo.org should be considered mandatory reading for any cat owner. It even covers raw feeding.

As joeyjoejoe mentioned above, dehydration is the biggest problem with dry food. Cats are desert animals and as such, they're usied to getting their water from their prey. Generally a wild cat's prey will be 70-80% moisture. Typical wet cat food (even the cheap stuff) will provide that moisture. Dry food won't. And cats will almost never drink enough water to compensate for it. This could wind up in urinary problems, especially in male cats.

The other problem with with dry food, especially the good stuff, is that while in can be very high in protein it can also be high in calories. This, in itself, isn't the end of the world but a typical serving of good dry food is only about 2 ounces. That may not be enough to satisfy kitty. If you just fill a bowl and dry food the cat will likely eat until she's satisfied which might be too much. If you give her just 2 ounces, she might not have enough. Wet cat food also is likely to have a higher fat content. Just like with people, fat satiates.

And thanks, KevC, for those raw food resources. This is something I wanted to get more into at some point.
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Mar 13, 2012
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Planet Earth
We have had indoor cats for many years now and always fed them a portion of moist food twice a day and dry food anytime they choose. Not one has ever been obese. It is about moderation and always having fresh water available for them. If you start them early and exercise them with toys & play regularly you should be able to control their calorie burn. Only one guy ever had urinary problems starting at 12... Not bad and I see no need to alter the manor which we talk care of our feline family.

Currently we have 3 male cats and the per meal portions are as follows: 1/2 5.5oz can in 2 bowls and 1/2 cup of dry food in two bowls.

They never finish the dry food so it is just top up divided between the 2 bowls on most days. I would say they eat 1/2 to 3/4 cup per day of dry food. If they did finish it... Too bad boys you need to wait till the next meal!
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[OP]
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Mar 26, 2013
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Ottawa
Thanks for the replies guys. So far, we give him an adequate amount of dry food during the day (which he rations quite well so it's enough for his appetite but not too much where he over eats) and then give a portion of wet food twice a day. He gets TONS of good exercise so far and he's fitting in well. My one friend was saying to avoid wet food at all costs, but after some research it seems like it's the best kind of food for a cat. We're looking into buying the Halo brand of dry food and we're going to work on a good brand of wet food. I always give him fresh water as well; it's an important part of any animal's health.

Ideally I'd like to do the raw diet, but I'll still have to do more research with it. The link Cheap Cat posted has a page with a good recipe of raw and various nutrients to add.

Thank you all for the replies and your experiences. My mom's cats are pretty over weight, but I think it's a matter of her spoiling them and being over fed with the wet food. I'm hoping to keep our cat active enough to prevent this and so far so good.
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Aug 2, 2003
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Beautiful B.C.
A great resource for raw food and holistic care for cats is Holisticat:

www.holisticat.com

It costs to join the forums. But you can look at lots of information and read posts (I'm pretty sure) without joining. It's an amazing resource. And there's lots of information about raw feeding.
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