The Poop Scoop. Do Cats Poop Less on Wet Food?


Cats are notorious for being very particular about their bathroom habits. As a cat owner, you’re probably familiar with your cat’s unique pooping schedule and habits. But have you noticed your cat’s pooping patterns change after transitioning them to a wet food diet? Many cat owners observe their cats producing smaller and less frequent stools after making the switch from dry to wet cat food.

This phenomenon often leads cat owners to wonder: do cats really poop less on wet food compared to dry food? While a change in stool volume is common, the reasons behind it are nuanced. Read on as we dive into the digestion process, stool volume, and what you can expect when feeding your cat a wet food diet.

Background on Cat Digestion

Cats have a simple monogastric digestive system that is optimized for processing high-protein, low-carbohydrate prey animals. The feline digestive system functions to breakdown food, absorb nutrients, and eliminate waste. The main processes include1:

  • Ingestion – eating food through the mouth
  • Digestion – mechanical and chemical breakdown of food into absorbable nutrients using teeth, stomach acids, and enzymes
  • Absorption – uptake of digested nutrients through the small intestine into the bloodstream
  • Defecation – elimination of indigestible food parts as feces from the large intestine

The mouth is the entrance to the gastrointestinal tract where digestion begins. Cats have sharp teeth to grab prey and shear meat. Saliva contains enzymes like amylase to start breaking down starches and enzymes to begin protein digestion2. After swallowing, food moves down the esophagus by peristalsis into the stomach. In the stomach, hydrochloric acid denatures proteins and gastric enzymes continue chemical digestion. The pyloric sphincter regulates food emptying into the small intestine. The majority of nutrient absorption occurs in the small intestine through intestinal villi. Water and vitamins are absorbed here. The large intestine reabsorbs extra water and compacts indigestible matter into feces for elimination through the anus.

Wet vs Dry Cat Food

There are some key nutritional differences between wet and dry cat food. Wet cat food typically contains more protein and moisture, while dry cat food contains more carbohydrates and calories per serving (1).

Wet food tends to have higher levels of animal-based proteins, which are more biologically valuable for cats. It usually contains around 7-11% protein vs. 30-40% in dry food. However, since cats consume more dry food by volume, the total protein intake may be similar between the two diets (2).

The moisture content in wet food (around 75%) is also beneficial for cats, who don’t tend to drink enough water on their own. This can help prevent urinary and kidney problems. Dry food only contains around 10% moisture.

On the other hand, dry cat food provides more carbohydrates like grains and starches. This makes it more energy dense at 300-400 calories per cup vs. 100-250 calories in wet foods. But too many carbs can lead to obesity if overfed.

Moisture Content Effects

The moisture content in wet and dry cat food can have significant effects on a cat’s digestive system. Wet cat food typically contains 70-80% moisture, while dry kibble only contains around 10% moisture or less (1). The high moisture content of wet food can benefit cats in the following ways:

Increased hydration – The extra fluid from wet food helps keep cats hydrated and promotes healthy digestion and nutrient absorption. Dehydration is a risk factor for constipation in cats.

Better stool quality – The moisture in wet food helps bulk up stools and allows them to pass through the colon more easily. This results in smaller, tighter stools that are easier to pass (2).

Reduced risk of urinary issues – The high moisture content helps dilute a cat’s urine, reducing the risk of crystals and straining to urinate which can lead to urinary tract infections.

Overall, the high moisture levels in wet cat food support a well-functioning digestive system by optimizing hydration and stool quality. This suggests cats may poop less volume on a wet food diet.



Stool Volume on Wet Food

Studies have shown that cats who are fed an exclusively wet food diet will generally produce less stools than cats fed solely dry kibble. This is likely due to the high moisture content in wet foods. According to one study by the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, cats fed canned foods had stool volumes averaging just 35g per day, whereas cats on kibble diets had averages of 50g per day (study link).

Veterinarians explain this difference by pointing out that canned foods contain up to 75% moisture versus only around 10% in dry foods. All that additional fluid gets absorbed by the body rather than remaining in the colon to bulk up the feces. So while cats on wet food diets ingest more volume per day, their decreased stool volumes indicate their bodies are utilizing more nutrients.

Other Factors Affecting Stool Volume

A cat’s age can impact stool volume and consistency. Kittens and senior cats often have larger and softer stools than adult cats. Kittens are still developing their digestive systems, while older cats may have lower muscle tone affecting their intestines.

Certain health conditions can also affect stool volume. Diseases like hyperthyroidism speed up metabolism, leading to increased stool output. Cats with irritable bowel disease or food sensitivities may have chronic loose stools. Intestinal parasites can also increase stool volume and cause diarrhea.

Medications like antibiotics, steroids, or laxatives can cause loose stools or diarrhea as side effects. Even stress can temporarily increase stool volume as it impacts the digestive tract.

According to the Purina article “Cat Poop: What Do Colour, Consistency and Smell Tell You,” factors like diet, hydration, activity level, age, and health conditions can all affect the volume and consistency of a cat’s stool.

Owner Experiences

Many cat owners who have switched their cats to wet food report noticing smaller stools. On Reddit forums like r/Pets and r/CatAdvice, owners share their experiences with stool volume after transitioning to wet food.

One owner said their cat’s poops became “way smaller” after switching to a grain-free wet food, likely due to the higher protein and moisture content. Another owner reported much smaller and firmer stools after transitioning their cat to an 85% wet food diet. The increased digestibility of wet food leads to less waste.

Some owners recommend a gradual transition to wet food over 2-4 weeks to allow the cat’s digestive system to adjust. This can minimize any gastric issues during the switch. Ultimately most owners find their cats have noticeably smaller and healthier stools on a wet food diet.

Best Practices for Healthy Digestion

When it comes to feeding cats for optimal digestive health, there are some best practices pet owners can follow:

Feed a high-protein, low-carb wet food diet. Canned/wet cat foods have much higher moisture content than dry kibbles. The added moisture can help hydrate cats and aid digestion. Look for grain-free wet foods without fillers.

Stick to a consistent feeding schedule, such as meal feeding the same amounts at the same times daily. Consistency allows the digestive system to regulate.

Slowly transition between foods over 5-7 days, mixing a little more new food each day. Drastic changes can upset digestion.

Try probiotic supplements or foods with added prebiotics/probiotics. These support gut microbiome health.

Add extra water to food to increase moisture intake. Consider getting a cat water fountain to encourage drinking.

Limit stress for your cat. Stress can adversely impact the GI system. Keep litter boxes clean and try calming plugins.

Monitor portion sizes to avoid overfeeding. Overeating puts strain on the digestion.

Exercise portion control for treats and avoid table scraps. Treats should compose <10% of daily calories.

Incorporate interactive feeders or food puzzles into playtime to slow eating. This prevents overeating.

When to See a Vet

If your cat is experiencing any signs of digestive upset, it’s important to monitor them closely and contact your veterinarian if symptoms persist or worsen. Some signs that warrant a veterinary visit include:

  • Repeated vomiting or diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours (Hill’s)
  • Significant weight loss or lack of appetite (Bond Vet)
  • Lethargy, depression, or other signs of illness
  • Straining to pass stool with no success
  • Blood in the vomit or stool
  • Foreign object obstruction

A vet visit allows for a clinical exam, potential diagnostic testing, and tailored treatment recommendations for your cat’s specific condition. It’s especially crucial for senior cats, kittens, or cats with pre-existing health issues. Don’t hesitate to call your vet if your cat’s symptoms concern you – early treatment can help prevent complications.


In summary, cats eating a wet food diet will generally produce smaller, more compact stools than cats eating an exclusively dry diet. This is because wet foods have much higher moisture content, resulting in better hydration and more efficient digestion and absorption of nutrients. With less indigestible material moving through the colon, stools are naturally smaller. However, many factors can affect stool volume including age, health conditions, activity level, and individual variation between cats. Feeding a high quality wet food diet supports good hydration and healthy digestion, though occasional larger stools may be normal. If stool amounts seem excessive or cause concern, consult your veterinarian. With patience and care, most cats can transition to wet food and experience the benefits of improved hydration, digestion, and smaller stools.

The takeaway is that a wet food diet supports healthy digestion and smaller stools in cats compared to dry food diets. Focus on high moisture content, feed an appropriate amount based on your cat’s needs, and consult your vet if you have concerns. With some adjustments, most cats can thrive on wet food and produce less waste.

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