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Wet vs Dry Cat Food: Is One Better Than the Other? (Pros & Cons)

Oliver Jones

Your cat is part of your family, and you want to feed it like family. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to know exactly which cat food to get. Some sources claim that wet cat food is the only healthy option for cats, whereas others argue that dry food is the way to go. What gives? Is one actually better than the other?

In this article, we are going to answer just that by thoroughly reviewing both types of cat food. We begin by giving an overview of the cat foods individually. Then, we will compare them to one another and help you pick out the best cat food for your cat. Let’s get started.

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Overview of Wet Cat Food:

If you’ve ever fed your cat wet cat food before, you know that this type of food is a delicacy for your cat. Although stomach turning for us to smell, just the opening of the can’s lid can send any cat running, no matter how lazy it may be.

cat eating wet cat food indoor
Image Credit: Rutina, Shutterstock

Nutritional Content

Wet cat food often has a fantastic nutritional content for cats. It is low in carbs, but has a high protein, fat, and moisture content. Sometimes, the fat percentage may be too high for a cat’s diet, but wet cat food tends to be a super healthy option.

Specifically, because cat food has fewer carbohydrates, cats that eat wet cat food tend to have fewer health conditions, such as diabetes, lower urinary tract disease, and kidney disease.

The high moisture content is especially helpful for pregnant cats, nursing cats, and kittens. These cats need a lot more moisture than just a standard cat.

Varieties

Back in the day, there weren’t many varieties of wet cat food. Today, there are a lot more options to choose from. Just about any flavor you can think of is available in wet cat food form. Not to mention, you can find cat food in cans, bottles, and even pouches.

cat eating food from a bowl
Image Credit: Viktor Lugovskoy, Shutterstock

Price

Because wet cat food is considered fresher than dry cat food, it is a lot pricier. Even though prices have become more affordable with an increase of competition, wet cat food is still the most expensive form of cat food.

Drawbacks

The biggest drawback of wet cat food is its price. Those on a budget might find wet cat food too expensive, especially if it is the sole food for your cat.

Another drawback is that wet cat food has a much shorter shelf life than dry varieties. Once opened, wet cat food needs to be opened within 24 hours or put in the refrigerator. If left out in the open and then eaten, your cat can become sick.

When to Choose Wet Cat Food

Wet cat food is a great choice if you are most concerned about your cat’s nutrition. Especially if your cat is pregnant, nursing, or a kitten, wet cat food will be a great choice. Likewise, overweight cats will benefit from wet cat food because of the lower carbohydrate content.

However, those on a budget will probably want to stay away from wet cat food because of its expensive price tag. If you are on a budget but still want to incorporate wet cat food into your cat’s diet, you can always pour wet portions over dry food to make the dry cat food more nutritious without increasing your budget too much.

cats eating
Image Credit: Piqsels
Pros
  • Great moisture content
  • Low in carbs
  • Cats love it
Cons
  • Smelly
  • Expensive
  • Short shelf life

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Overview of Dry Cat Food:

Dry cat food has been the go-to food of choice for cats for many years. Not only do most cats like dry cat food, but it is affordable and doesn’t come with that nasty smell either.

persian cat eating dry food
Image Credit: Patrick Foto, Shutterstock

Nutritional Content

Dry cat food isn’t necessarily as healthy as wet cat food, but it is still a viable option if you make sure your cat is still active and don’t overfeed it. Dry cat food will have an ideal protein and fat content for your cat, but it comes with too many carbohydrates, which can lead to obesity and other illnesses in your cat if not monitored.

As you would expect from dry cat food, it has a lower moisture content as well. This low moisture content isn’t a big deal for adult cats that have regular access to water. However, pregnant, nursing, or young cats will likely benefit from a little extra moisture in their diet. Still, even these cats can likely make do if you provide enough water for them to drink throughout the day.

Varieties

Just like with wet cat food, there is a lot of variety for dry cat foods. They come in many flavors, and there are even dry cat foods specific for certain illnesses, ages, and sizes.

Cute cat eating on floor at home
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Price

Dry cat food stands out because of its price. It is much more affordable than wet cat food. Plus, it has a longer shelf life, which means you don’t have to toss out any unused cat food. Those on a budget will be much more comfortable paying for dry cat food than wet cat food.

Drawbacks

The biggest drawback of dry cat food is that it isn’t quite as healthy for cats as the wet kind. For starters, it has a higher carbohydrate content. More so, it often includes more preservatives and chemicals that can have long lasting impacts on your cat’s health.

When to Choose Dry Cat Food

You should choose dry cat food if you are on a budget. Because of how affordable it is, you can buy a more premium dry food without spending as much money as you would on wet cat food. Just make sure that you provide enough water for your cat to drink and monitor its activity levels, weight, and overall health.

Gray cat eating from the bowl
Image Credit: Skrypnykov Dmytro, Shutterstock
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Long shelf life
Cons
  • High in carbs
  • Lower moisture

What Are the Differences Between Wet and Dry Cat Food?

The main difference between wet and dry dog food is the moisture levels. Obviously, wet cat food has higher moisture levels than dry cat food. As a result, cats with a dry food diet will likely drink much more than cats that eat a wet cat food diet.

In addition to the moisture, the carbohydrate content is a big difference between these two foods. Because wet cat food uses moisture as a binding agent, there are fewer carbohydrates, which is ideal for a cat’s diet. In contrast, dry cat food must use carb binding agents for the kibble.

The last major difference between wet and dry cat food is the price. Dry cat food is much more affordable than wet cat food. Although you certainly can find expensive dry cat food, expect to pay much more for the wet varieties.

Should I Feed My Cat Wet or Dry Food?

Unfortunately, this question cannot be answered without first considering many factors. For some cats, wet cat food may be needed, but other cats will be more than happy and healthy with dry cat food. So, you need to consider your cat and your budget when deciding which type of cat food to buy.

cats eating from orange bowls
Image Credit: Sharaf Maksumov, Shutterstock

When to Select Wet Cat Food

You should feed your cat wet dry food if it is pregnant, nursing, young, or has known health conditions. Because of the low carbohydrate content but high moisture, you can ensure that your cat will be as healthy as possible when eating wet cat food.

When to Select Dry Cat Food

You should select cat food if you have a healthy cat that is active and drinking enough water outside of its food. More so, select dry cat food if you are on a budget. You can easily find budget dry cat foods that are affordable but still healthy for your cat.

When to Select Both

It’s a good idea to feed your cat both wet and dry cat food instead of just one or the other. Both wet and dry cat food comes with their own advantages. Maximize the advantages of both by alternating your cat’s diet.

For example, feed your cat dry cat food in the morning but wet cat food at night. Another idea that cats go crazy over is doing a half portion of dry cat food and a half portion of wet cat food in the same bowl. Put the remaining wet cat food in a sealable container and place it in the refrigerator for next mealtime.

Not only will your cat love this but feeding it both can ensure your cat gets all the nutrients it needs without spending a fortune on a sole wet food diet. Win-win!

cat eating dry and wet cat food
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Factors to Consider When Shopping for Cat Food

When shopping for any cat food, there are three factors you need to consider: the food nutrition, your cat, and its price. These three factors apply to dry food and wet food alike.

Nutrition

Instead of debating whether dry cat food or wet cat food is better, it’s most important to consider the nutrition of each individual product. Depending on the brand, a wet cat food may be better than a dry cat food, but the opposite may be true if you compare different brands.

You want to specifically look at any additives and preservatives. The fewer, the better. Likewise, you want to keep carbs low and protein high. The fat content should fall in between these two percentages. Of course, make sure your cat gets enough moisture, whether it be from their food or water bowl.

british-short-hair-cat-eating
Image Credit: Lilia-Solonari, Shutterstock

Your Cat’s Health

Next, you need to consider your cat’s individual health. As we learned, some cats will do much better on a wet diet than others. On the other hand, some cats will be equally healthy on either. Talk to your vet to learn which cat food you should get based on your cat’s specific needs.

Price

Think about the price of the cat food you are buying. Because there are so many options on the market, you can easily find high quality cat food at an affordable price. Shop around and don’t be afraid to read reviews and ask questions about the product you are considering.

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Quick Look: Our Top Choices
Our Favorite Wet Cat Food: Weruva Wet Cat Food Pouches

BFF Rainbow A Gogo Variety Pack Wet Cat Food

Our favorite wet cat food is the Weruva Wet Cat Food Pouches. This wet cat food is affordable, but it has great nutrition. It includes high protein, low carbohydrates, and additional vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Furthermore, the food is free from grains and made from human-grade food. Most cats love the flavor of this food, but you can try out a variety pack to figure out exactly what flavors your cat likes.


Our Favorite Dry Cat Food: Purina One Sensitive Skin & Stomach

Purina ONE Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Cat Food

 

The Purina One Sensitive Skin & Stomach dry cat food is a great choice for all cats, including those with sensitivities. It has an extremely high protein content for dry food and additional vitamins and minerals specific for stomach and skin sensitivities. According to most veterinarians, the Purina One line is one of the best options for cats.

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Conclusion

Although wet and dry cat food have their own advantages and disadvantages, neither is outright better than the other. What’s most important is that the individual product you select has a healthy portion of carbohydrates to protein. From there, choose between dry and wet cat food by considering your cat’s needs and your budget.


Featured Image Credit: Jiri Hera, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.