The Truth About Wet Vs. Dry Cat Food

Find out what's best for your cat BFF 😽

cat deciding between wet and dry food

If you’re a cat parent, you’re always on the lookout for the best toys, treats, and food for your cat.

And in figuring this all out, you’ve probably asked yourself a common question: Should I feed my cat wet or dry food?

Many cat parents lean towards dry food for a few reasons — most significantly, that it tends to be cheaper than wet food.

But The Dodo reached out to Dr. Jill Elliot, holistic veterinarian at West Village Veterinary Hospital in New York City, for some expert insight.

“I prefer canned/wet food for cats in general if they will eat it,” Dr. Elliot told The Dodo.

According to Dr. Elliot, wet food is around 80 percent moisture while dry food only contains 15 percent moisture — and more moisture can mean a healthier cat.

That’s also why you might notice that if your cat typically eats wet food, she won’t drink as much water — she doesn’t need to!

Why do veterinarians prefer wet food over dry food?

“Cats, especially male cats, can get urinary blockages,” Dr. Elliot said. “The wet food with higher moisture content helps to flush out the bladder more than dry food.”

According to Dr. Elliot, cats often develop kidney disease or become dehydrated as they age. “Wet food can help to prevent some of these problems. Or delay the onset of these problems,” Dr. Elliot said.

While she noted that some people lean towards dry food because it can help clean a cat’s teeth better than wet food can, she doesn’t necessarily find that to be reason enough to stick to dry food.

“Having a dental cleaning more often is not as dangerous as developing kidney disease or bladder calculus [aka bladder stones] (which may require surgery to remove the calculus if not able to be dissolved with a special diet.)” Dr. Elliot said.

What’s the best wet food brand?

While Dr. Elliot doesn’t recommend any specific wet food brand, she does suggest learning to read the package.

“In general I tell people to read labels,” Dr. Elliot said. “Avoid labels that say ‘by-product.’”

Dr. Elliot also suggests avoiding grain-free diets altogether. “I do NOT recommend grain-free diets,” Dr. Elliot said. “Too many reports lately of some animals developing heart issues on grain-free food.”

You can get by-product-free food that isn’t grain-free like this one:

Blue Buffalo Healthy Gourmet Variety Pack from Petco for $10.98

But it’s important to remember that cats tend to be picky eaters, so making a switch from dry to wet food might be too overwhelming for her if not done properly. You can try offering a bit of both until your cat gets used to the new food — just make sure you use separate bowls set a few feet apart.

If you run into issues transitioning your cat's food, speak to your veterinarian since they know your individual cat best — but also know that some cats just won’t eat wet food, and that’s OK. 

“Some cats will only eat dry food,” Dr. Elliot said. “And owners should not force them or starve them if that's the case.”

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