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Benefits and Downsides of Wet Food for Cats

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

cat eating on the counter

One of the most confusing things to many pet owners is that there are two different foods, dry kibble, and wet food. Many people ask us if cats need wet food at all, and the short answer is no. Your cat does not need to eat wet food to stay healthy. However, there are several benefits as well as drawbacks to providing it to your cat, so keep reading while we look at the pros and cons to help you be more informed.

What Is Wet Food?

Wet cat food comes in a can and features soft food with high moisture content. It often has meat mixed with vegetables and includes vitamin and mineral fortification to ensure your cat receives a complete meal and balanced diet like dry kibble. There are several types of food, including pate, morsels, minced, and others, to help ensure your cat gets the kind it enjoys eating.

What Are the Benefits of Feeding My Cat Wet Food?

1. Moisture

One of the primary benefits of feeding your cat wet food is its high moisture content, especially when compared to dry kibble. This increased moisture content can help relieve the symptoms of constipation, and many cats suffer from light dehydration because they usually don’t drink too much water, so wet food can help improve their health. Symptoms of dehydration in cats include loss of energy, panting, sunken eyes, and dry gums. Besides wet food, adding a fountain or two around your home can help convince your cats to drink more water.

tabby cat eating cat food out of bowl inside
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

2. Rich Flavor

There is a richer flavor offered by wet food and our cats will almost always choose wet food over dry if given a choice. Their preference for wet food comes in handy for convincing a cat to eat their medication when it’s needed, and it can also get cats eating again if they haven’t eaten in a while.


3. High Protein Content

The high protein found in many wet foods is due to the fact that it contains plenty of real meat pieces cooked inside the can. Protein is responsible for energy muscle growth in your cat, and animal proteins contain the important nutrients arginine and taurine, which are vital to your cat’s good health. Many other mammals, including dogs, can create these nutrients, but cats must ingest them by eating animal proteins.

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

What Are the Downsides to Feeding My Cat Wet Food?

1. Moisture

We know we mentioned that the moisture content in wet food could benefit your cat, and we’re not going back on that. However, properly hydrated cats often suffer from loose stools and even diarrhea after eating wet cat food. The high moisture content can also upset your cat’s stomach causing vomiting. If your cat hasn’t eaten wet food before, we recommend starting with small portions to avoid negative reactions.

sick grey cat
Image Credit: one photo, Shutterstock

2. Dental Issues

The primary reason we recommend avoiding adding wet food to your cat’s diet is that it does not help clean your pet’s teeth. Dry kibble helps to scrape away plaque and tartar from the teeth as your cat chews it, helping to slow the progression of dental disease, which is quite common in cats. Some experts suggest that more than half of cats over age 4 have some dental problem, and the actual number may be as high as 90%.

Wet food doesn’t help scrape the teeth clean. In fact, it may leave a residue on them that helps speed up the progression of dental disease.


3. It Spoils

Wet cat food can only sit in the bowl for a few hours before it is subject to bacteria growth. These bacteria can cause stomach problems as well as flatulence and diarrhea, so you will need to stay vigilant about removing the food before it goes bad. Dry food does not suffer from bacteria growth because there is no moisture to attract it, so you can leave it out for the day or overnight.


4. Expensive and Hard to Store

Another downside to wet food is that it can be considerably more expensive than dry kibble. Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, you can expect to pay more than $1 per serving for many brands, while most dry kibble brands will be less than half that price. Once you purchase the food, it is also much easier to store dry kibble because it weighs less and comes in a larger package. On the other hand, wet food is heavy, and each serving is in a can that you must store. If you don’t serve it all, you will need to refrigerate the remaining portion, which takes up room in your fridge.

cat hiccup
Image Credit: Pixabay

Related Read: How to feed my cat wet food while away

Summary

It’s perfectly healthy for cats to eat wet food if they are experiencing constipation or a medical condition that causes them to require medication. It’s good for kittens because of the high protein content, and it can get a stubborn cat eating again, but your cat doesn’t need to eat it. Cats can be perfectly healthy eating nothing but dry kibble, and it will help slow the progression of dental disease, which stands a chance of forcing them to eat wet food later in life. Dry food is also less likely to cause soft stools and diarrhea.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this short guide, and it has helped answer your questions. If we have helped you understand your cat’s diet a little better, please share this guide to if cats need wet food and what benefits they might receive from eating it on Facebook and Twitter.


Featured Image Credit: Krakenimages.com, Shutterstock

Further reading

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