- This or That? Wet Food or Dry Food?
By: Lia De Lemos
The main difference between wet and dry food is in the names themselves. For the sake of making things less complicated, I will leave the specificity of brands alone!
Wet cat food has much more moisture and water, and usually is packaged in cans. There exists quite the variety of textures of wet cat food: mousse, loaf, chunks, and even jelly textures. Once opened its shelf life is much shorter, and it needs to be refrigerated. Protein sources are grounded together, cooked, and sterilized to produce wet cat food. In comparison, wet food is usually more expensive than dry food.
Dry food is dry (of course), and it is usually packaged in large bags. Similar to a bag of chips, they have a long shelf-life once opened. Protein sources, fat, and other vitamins are mixed together and go through several cooking processes in order to make dry food. Fun fact, wet food was the norm for cat owners until the 1950s when dry food entered the market. People raved over dry food as it's cheaper and more convenient to purchase, creating dry food's popularity and normalcy.
Downfalls of Wet Food
As mentioned, most wet cat foods are on the more expensive side (but again remember your cat first!). Being canned, wet food must be used within 24 hours once opened. You might take into account how many cats you are even feeding. However, be mindful of how long you leave wet food out in the open. If left for some time, the food is at risk of contamination which could cause gastrointestinal upset for your cat.
Very few cats may also develop periodontal disease from consuming wet food, therefore, consulting your vet is recommended. And lastly, wet cat food can be messy on both you and your cat's end!
Downfalls of Dry Food
While its large amount of carbohydrates can help thin cats, for every other cat, this may cause problems. There are some studies that show dry food as the impetus for obese and overweighted cats. Leaving food out for your cat to eat whenever, or free-feeding, is an action that came from the introduction of dry food. Convenient, yes. But it may be hard to tell how much your cat is eating. Popular cat blogger, Jackson Galaxy, is a huge advocate against free-feeding cats.
Given the dry construct, your cat may be prone to dehydration. Again, dehydration is a dangerous place for a cat to be. For other cats, some dry foods might be hard to digest, leading to stomach issues and even vomiting.
Combination of Wet and Dry Food
So now you see that each side has its ups and downs. Why not both? Well, you're definitely not the first to come up with this idea. It's actually a common practice in the cat community!
Every cat's meal plan is different. The "common order" is to serve wet food before anything else. However, a cat may eat wet food at night and dry food throughout the day. Directly mixing wet and dry food is also quite common for cats. The variations go on and on, but the important thing to ensure is that the meals are accustomed to your cat's health. Don't make the common mistake of trial and error, finding the right meal plan. Consult your veterinarian and do your research beforehand!
The same essentially goes for new dry food too! Try the new dry food as a treat, in combination with their other favorite food if needed. Then observe and gradually increase portions. Whenever you decide to introduce brand new food to your cat, the rule of thumb is to start small and observe your cat's reactions!
Just like humans, a cat's diet is very complex with varying needs. Cat sitters, owners, experts, doctors, and just overall cat lovers have struggled with the question on what is the absolute best food for cats. My word of advice is to look carefully at the ingredients and nutritional facts of wet and dry food. Know exactly what your cat's needs are, and know exactly what you're feeding them. Finding the right balance may be a tedious process, but by being patient with your cat, you'll soon find a 5-star Michelin meal for them!
Lia is a first-year student studying Journalism at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and is currently studying remotely in the Bay Area and she enjoys all things cat-related. She has two cats
and three dogs living in her household, so you might call her an animal-lover. Lia hopes for her content to be an enjoyable read to