Kibble vs. Wet Food. Which is Better for Your Cat’s Health?


The debate between kibble (dry cat food) and wet cat food has gone on for many years. Many cat owners find themselves questioning which type of food is truly better for their feline companion. Both kibble and wet food have their own set of pros and cons when it comes to factors like nutritional value, dental health, kidney health, cost, convenience, and palatability.

In this article, we will overview the key differences between kibble and wet cat food across these factors. We will provide an in-depth analysis of the benefits and drawbacks of each type of cat food. Our goal is to equip cat owners with the information needed to make an informed decision when choosing between feeding kibble or wet food to their cat.

Nutritional Value

Both wet and dry cat foods contain protein, fat, and carbohydrates, but the proportions vary significantly between the two formats.

Wet foods typically contain much higher protein levels, with most premium brands ranging from 7-11% protein compared to 20-40% protein in canned foods. The high moisture content of wet foods allows for the incorporation of more protein.1

Fat levels are also generally higher in wet cat foods, from 5-8% in dry foods to around 20-30% in wet recipes. This mimics the natural diet of felines in the wild. However, some fat can be lost during the canning process.2

Carbohydrates make up the bulk of kibble recipes, ranging from 30-50%. Canned foods contain far fewer carbs, usually under 10%. This aligns better with a cat’s natural carnivorous diet.

Water Content

Cats have a relatively low thirst drive compared to other mammals, so getting enough water from their food is important.1 Wet cat food contains much more moisture than dry kibble – generally 65-75% moisture compared to around 10% for dry food.2 This higher water content helps cats stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to serious urinary and kidney problems in cats, so choosing a wet food diet supports good hydration and urinary tract health.

Dental Health

Many cat owners and some veterinarians believe that the hardness of kibble is better for a cat’s dental health because it helps scrape away plaque and tartar as the cat chews. However, recent research indicates this may not be the case.

In fact, a 2015 study published in the journal BMC Veterinary Research found that incisors of cats fed wet food were actually in better health than those fed dry kibble. The study concluded that oral health in cats is affected by multiple factors, not just food texture [1]. Another source notes that kibble does not provide significant chewing resistance for cats due to its small size and breakability, so it does not effectively clean teeth [2].

While kibble may have initially seemed ideal for dental health, recent evidence indicates wet food does not necessarily cause more dental problems. Proper oral hygiene, veterinary cleanings, and dental treats can help keep cats’ teeth clean regardless of diet.

Kidney Health

Many cats, especially as they age, can develop kidney disease. Feeding a diet lower in phosphorus can help support kidney health in cats. Wet foods typically contain lower levels of phosphorus compared to dry kibble. According to Rover, wet foods like Blue Buffalo Veterinary Diet Kidney + Mobility Support are designed to be nutritious while being low in both phosphorus and sodium.

Canned or wet cat foods also have much higher moisture contents than dry kibble. The increased water intake can help stimulate kidney function and dilute toxins. With the higher water content, feeding wet food may help reduce strain on the kidneys and support hydration in cats prone to kidney issues. Consult your veterinarian for the best diet recommendations for your individual cat.


When it comes to affordability, kibble is generally the more budget-friendly option compared to wet cat food. According to Diffen, a 6.3 lb bag of dry cat food costs around $7 while a case of wet food can cost $25-30. Over time, the cost of an all-wet diet really adds up. One estimate suggests feeding a 10 lb cat only wet food costs $1.22 – $5.77 per day, or $36-173 per month. Meanwhile, Tufts University found the daily cost of dry food ranges from just $0.23 – $1.15. So while wet food may seem more affordable per serving, kibble is substantially cheaper in the long run.


When it comes to convenience, dry kibble cat food has some advantages over wet food. Kibble is much easier to store, taking up less space and not requiring refrigeration like open cans of wet food do. Kibble can be left in the bag or placed in an airtight container, making it simple to keep fresh until needed. Portioning out each meal is also easier with kibble. You can easily scoop out the needed amount versus having to divide up a single can of wet food.

As evidence from Dog Food Advisor, dry kibble lasts longer after being opened compared to wet food that goes bad within a few days. This makes kibble more convenient for multi-cat households where food may sit out for longer periods between feedings. The dry format is also more suited for free-feeding cats that prefer to graze throughout the day.

Overall, dry kibble offers cat owners greater convenience for storage, portioning, and leaving food out between feedings. Those factors make it a better choice for many cat owners looking for an easy, low-maintenance feeding option.


Cats tend to prefer the texture and taste of wet food over dry kibble. Wet food contains more moisture and usually has a stronger aroma and flavor. The soft, meaty chunks and gravy are more enticing for many cats than hard dry pieces.

According to Veterinary Nutritionist Arnold Plotnick DVM, the moisture enhances the smell and taste of food, making it more palatable for felines. The aroma of a freshly opened can triggers a cat’s appetite. Additionally, the smooth, saucy texture appeals to a cat’s natural love of meat. This can encourage picky cats to eat.

Wet foods often contain more animal protein than grain-heavy kibbles. Cats are obligate carnivores and crave meat. Foods with a high proportion of fish, chicken, beef or other animal ingredients provide cats with the flavors they desire. This strong flavor can make wet food very appetizing. Many cats refuse to eat dry food if given the choice between that and flavorful canned/pouched meals.

Overall, the moist texture, meaty chunks, savory aroma and potent taste of wet cat food seem more appetizing to cats than the relatively bland, dry kibble format. This high palatability makes it a great way to tempt fussy felines or cats needing to gain weight.



Veterinarians typically recommend a combination of wet and dry food for cats. This provides the benefits of both while mitigating the downsides. According to Wet vs. Dry Cat Food: Vet-Approved Facts & Key Differences, many vets suggest feeding a diet that is about 25-30% wet food and 70-75% dry food. The wet food provides important moisture and protein, while the dry food is useful for dental health. Kittens should be fed more wet food to promote growth and hydration. Older cats, especially those prone to urinary issues, also benefit from more wet food in the diet. Overall, a balanced combination tailored to the individual cat’s needs is ideal.


When comparing wet food and kibble for cats, there are pros and cons to both options. Ultimately, the ‘best’ choice comes down to your cat’s unique needs and preferences.

In summary, wet food tends to be higher in protein and moisture than kibble. The added water content helps promote urinary tract health and keeps cats optimally hydrated. However, kibble is generally more affordable and convenient to serve. It can also help clean cats’ teeth. Some cats strongly prefer one texture over the other as well.

To provide balanced nutrition, many experts recommend feeding a combination of wet and dry food. This allows you to get the benefits of each. For example, feeding wet food at dinnertime when cats naturally drink more, supplemented with kibble for snacking during the day.

Consider your cat’s health, age, activity level, and preferences when deciding on the proportions of wet and dry food. It may take some experimentation to find the ideal balance. Just be sure to transition between foods gradually to allow their digestive system to adjust.

With a combination approach, you can provide complete and balanced nutrition in a way that optimizes moisture intake and accommodates your cat’s tastes. As long as your cat is getting a nutritionally balanced diet tailored for their lifestage and health status, either wet food or kibble can be an appropriate foundation.

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