Should Kitty Get Wet Food Daily? The Pros and Cons of Feeding Cats Wet Food


Whether cats should eat wet food every day is a debated topic among cat owners and veterinarians. Some argue that the high moisture content of canned food is beneficial for hydration, while others prefer the dental health benefits of dry kibble. This article will outline the pros and cons of feeding wet cat food daily versus dry food. It will compare the nutritional value, cost, veterinary recommendations, convenience, and cat preferences between wet and dry food. The goal is to provide cat owners with a comprehensive overview of the wet versus dry food debate so they can make an informed decision about which option is best for their feline companion.

Pros of Feeding Wet Food

Feeding cats wet food has several benefits over dry food. First, wet food has a much higher moisture content which helps mimic cats’ natural diet and promote better hydration (source). In the wild, cats get most of their water from their prey rather than drinking it directly. Wet food contains around 75% moisture versus only 10% in dry food. This helps reduce the risk of urinary problems that can arise from chronic mild dehydration.

Wet foods also tend to have higher protein content which is important for maintaining lean muscle mass (source). Protein deficiencies can lead to loss of muscle tone and body condition over time.

Contrary to popular belief, wet foods are actually better for dental health than dry kibble. Eating crunchy kibble does not provide sufficient abrasive action to clean cats’ teeth. Many wet foods contain chunky pieces that help scrape plaque and tartar off teeth as cats chew (source).

Finally, most cats find wet foods more palatable than dry due to their aroma and flavor. The higher moisture content also allows better release of taste components (source). This can encourage picky cats to eat more readily.

Cons of Feeding Wet Food

While wet food has many benefits, there are some potential downsides to consider as well. One major disadvantage is the higher cost compared to dry food. Wet foods contain a lot of moisture, so cat owners end up paying more for the water weight (source). The cost can add up quickly for multi-cat households.

There’s also a risk of obesity if wet food is free-fed. The high palatability and moisture content often leads cats to overeat wet foods. Portion control is important to prevent weight gain and related health issues (source).

The higher moisture content also means wet food spoils more quickly. Leftover wet food should be refrigerated and discarded after a couple days. This can be inconvenient compared to dry kibble that can be left out. The need for refrigeration also makes wet food harder to use for free-feeding situations.

Some vets also warn that the soft texture of wet foods may contribute to dental issues over time. Dry kibbles help scrub the teeth during chewing (source). There are ways to mitigate this, like brushing or dental treats, but it’s something to be aware of.

Nutritional Comparison

Overall, wet cat food tends to have higher protein and moisture content compared to dry food. Dry food typically has more carbohydrates. According to PetMD, wet food protein content can range from 5% to 12% while dry food is around 30% protein. Fat content is similar, with wet food ranging from 3% to 8% and dry around 10% fat. Carbs in dry food are around 40% while only 5% in wet food.

The high moisture content of wet food, around 75%, helps with digestibility and hydration compared to only 10% moisture in dry food according to DailyPaws. The carbohydrates in dry food can lead to obesity if fed in too large of quantities. Supplementation with taurine is often needed for dry food since the extrusion process destroys natural taurine.

Overall, wet food provides more protein and moisture for hydration and urinary tract health. But dry food can also be healthy in measured portions. According to, a high protein, low carb dry food supports an optimal weight.

Cost Comparison

Wet cat food is generally more expensive upfront compared to dry cat food. According to Tufts University, the daily cost for wet cat food ranges from $0.25 to $0.60 per day, while dry cat food costs $0.12 to $0.25 per day. For a 10 lb cat eating 180 calories per day, the monthly cost works out to:

  • Wet food: $7.50 to $18 per month
  • Dry food: $3.60 to $7.50 per month

So wet food may cost 2-3 times as much as dry food. However, cats tend to eat less wet food by volume since it has higher caloric density and more moisture. Over the lifespan of a cat, the total cost difference may be less substantial.

Some sources argue wet food is not necessarily more expensive than dry food when calculated per calorie. But most owners find their grocery bills are higher when feeding an all wet diet. It’s a good idea to create a monthly budget and calculate costs based on your own cat’s needs.

Veterinary Recommendations

Veterinarians generally recommend feeding cats a combination of wet and dry food for optimal health.1 Wet food provides more moisture to help with hydration, while dry food helps clean teeth and provides crunchiness that can benefit dental health. When it comes to certain health conditions, vets may make more specific recommendations:

  • For cats with urinary tract issues, increased moisture from wet food is beneficial.
  • For overweight cats, the lower calorie density of wet food allows them to eat more food while consuming fewer calories.
  • For cats with diabetes, dental issues, or kidney disease, vets may recommend specific therapeutic diets, either wet or dry.
  • For young kittens, wet food is usually recommended since it is easier to digest.

Most vets recommend feeding a high-quality food, whether wet, dry, or a mix, that provides complete and balanced nutrition. It’s best to choose a food formulated for your cat’s specific life stage and activity level.2 Consulting with your vet can help determine the ideal diet for your individual cat’s needs.

Owner Convenience

When it comes to convenience for the owner, there are some key differences between wet and dry cat food that should be considered:

Preparation and Storage: Dry food can be poured from a bag into a bowl or automatic feeder. It requires no preparation and can be left out all day without spoiling. Wet food comes in cans or pouches that must be opened and transferred to a bowl before feeding. Leftover wet food needs to be refrigerated and discarded if not eaten within a couple days. This makes dry food generally more convenient in terms of preparation and storage.

Portioning and Feeding: Dry food portions are simple to measure out using a scoop or cup. Wet food may need to be divided and portioned out from a larger can or pouch. Feeding cats set meals 2-3 times a day with wet food takes more effort than free-feeding dry food. So dry food can be simpler for portioning and feeding cats.

Travel and Away Time: Dry food is easier to use when traveling with a cat or leaving them home alone for a day or two. It can be left out in a self-feeding bowl without spoiling. Wet food requires more planning and coordination when away, potentially needing someone to visit and feed the cat fresh wet food 1-2 times per day. So for travel and away time, dry food offers more convenience.

Overall, dry cat food tends to be more convenient for owners in terms of preparation, storage, portioning, feeding, travel, and away time compared to wet cat food. However, some owners don’t mind the extra effort required by wet food in order to provide their cats with its dietary benefits. It comes down to each owner’s priorities and lifestyle.

Cat Preference

Cats often have strong preferences when it comes to the texture and aroma of their food. Many cats prefer the taste, texture, and aroma of wet food over dry kibble [1]. The high moisture content and meaty chunks or shreds can be more palatable for feline tastes. As obligate carnivores, cats are evolutionarily adapted to enjoying the taste and texture of fresh meat and organs.

In particular, cats who have dental issues or sinus congestion may find wet food more appetizing as it has a stronger aroma that is easier to smell [2]. The softer texture of wet food is also easier for senior cats or cats with dental disease. However, some cats prefer the crunch and texture variation of dry kibble. It’s important for owners to pay attention to their individual cat’s preferences.

Offering cats a choice between wet and dry foods allows them to select their preferred option. Owners can also mix the two types together. Ultimately, observing the cat’s enjoyment of different foods will indicate their tastes.

Hybrid Approach

A hybrid approach combines wet and dry food in a cat’s diet. This involves feeding wet food for some meals and dry food for others.

There are several benefits to mixing wet and dry food:

  • Increased hydration from the moisture in wet food
  • Dental benefits of dry food to clean teeth and prevent tartar
  • Providing overall balanced nutrition from both types of food
  • Adding variety and appeal to engage a cat’s natural instincts
  • Convenience of dry food for free-feeding when away

Potential drawbacks include the higher cost of feeding wet food exclusively, as well as the inconvenience of preparing multiple meals if feeding only wet. The hybrid approach balances these factors.

According to veterinarian guidance, a mix of 20-30% wet food and 70-80% dry food is an optimal ratio for most cats. The exact balance can be adjusted based on the cat’s needs and preferences (Edgard & Cooper).

Following a hybrid diet allows cat owners to gain the nutritional benefits of wet food while taking advantage of the logistical benefits of dry food. Varying between the two types keeps cats engaged and satisfied as well.


In summary, feeding cats wet food every day has several benefits compared to only feeding dry food. Wet food has higher moisture content which can help with hydration and urinary tract health. It also tends to have more animal protein and fewer carbohydrates. However, wet food is more expensive than dry and less convenient since it requires refrigeration and gets spoiled if left out too long.

The optimal approach seems to be feeding a mixture of high-quality wet and dry food. This provides the benefits of both while offsetting the downsides. Many experts recommend feeding half wet and half dry food. The wet food should be given in set mealtimes, not free-fed, and uneaten portions discarded within a few hours. This ensures cats get the hydration and nutritional benefits of wet food without waste.

In conclusion, it is recommended to feed cats a balanced combination of wet and dry food daily. The wet food provides hydration and protein, while the dry food balances out carbohydrates. Following feeding guidelines and proper storage will provide cats with an optimal diet.

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