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


Wet and dry cat foods are the two main types of cat food on the market. Both have their advantages and disadvantages in terms of nutrition, health benefits, cost, convenience and more. This article provides an overview comparing wet and dry cat food to help cat owners understand the key differences and make an informed decision on which type is healthier for their feline companion.

Nutritional Differences

Wet and dry cat foods differ significantly in their nutritional makeup. The biggest difference is the water content. Dry foods contain around 10% moisture whereas wet foods contain around 75% moisture (according to PetMD). This higher water content allows cats to meet their hydration needs more easily with wet food.

Protein sources also tend to differ. Dry foods often use more plant-based proteins like corn, wheat, and soy. Wet foods typically have more animal-based proteins like chicken, fish, and beef (per Daily Paws). Animal proteins are higher quality sources for cats.

In terms of carbohydrates, dry foods contain much higher levels, sometimes up to 50% carbs. They use carbs like corn, wheat, rice, and potatoes as binders and fillers. Wet foods have fewer carbs since they bind with moisture instead. Lower carbs are preferable for cats’ metabolism.

Dental Health

Many people believe that dry food helps keep cats’ teeth clean because the kibble crunching action helps scrape away plaque and tartar. Studies have found evidence to support this idea. Cats fed dry food, especially dental diet formulations, tend to have less tartar buildup and gingivitis compared to cats fed exclusively wet food.

One study published in the National Library of Medicine found that the incisors of cats fed dry food had better health compared to the cheek teeth of cats fed wet food, likely due to the abrasive actions of chewing kibble (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4494333/).

However, dry food is not necessarily better than wet food for dental health. Most kibble does not provide enough resistance or abrasion to significantly reduce plaque and tartar. The size and texture of many dry foods allow cats to swallow it whole without much chewing. Therefore, some dentists recommend brushing your cat’s teeth daily as the most effective dental care routine regardless of diet.

Urinary Health

Wet cat food is generally better for urinary health, as it contains more moisture than dry food. Cats have a low thirst drive and do not drink enough water on their own, which can lead to chronic dehydration. This increases the risk of developing urinary tract diseases like feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) and urinary crystals or stones.

The extra moisture found in wet food helps stimulate urine production and dilution, flushing out the urinary tract. This decreases toxin and mineral build up that could lead to crystal formation (Source). Studies show wet diets can help manage urinary tract infections and diseases.

Some of the top wet foods for urinary health include Blue Buffalo’s W+U Weight Management and Urinary Care, which is carried by many vets. It has chicken and essential vitamins and minerals for urinary care. Tiki Cat Puka Puka Luau is also excellent, with chicken and added minerals (Source).

Weight Management

When it comes to managing your cat’s weight, wet food often has an advantage over dry food. Wet cat food contains more protein and moisture than dry food, so it tends to be more calorically dense with fewer carbohydrates. According to Wet vs. Dry Cat Food: Which is Best for Your Cat?, wet food has much fewer calories per the same volume of dry food. This means cats can eat less wet food and feel just as full and satisfied. For overweight cats or cats prone to obesity, feeding wet food makes it easier to control portions and calorie intake. The high moisture content is also beneficial for weight loss, since it helps cats feel satiated with fewer calories.

When transitioning an overweight cat to wet food, be sure to consult your veterinarian on proper portion sizes and feeding schedules. Gradual changes are best to avoid digestive upset. But overall, wet cat food can be an effective tool for helping felines slim down in a healthy way.


Many cats prefer the taste and texture of wet cat food over dry cat food. Cats have a strong sense of smell, so the aroma of wet foods can be very appealing. The soft, smooth texture of wet foods is often more palatable for cats as well. Dry kibble requires more chewing, which some cats may not like. According to a Purina article, a survey showed 78% of cats prefer wet food overall. However, taste preferences can vary a lot between individual cats. Some cats really enjoy the crunchy texture of dry kibble. It’s a good idea to pay attention to your cat’s preferences and feeding behaviors when choosing between wet or dry food.

Convenience and Cost

One of the biggest advantages of dry cat food is convenience. Dry food can be left out all day for cats to snack on, while wet food needs to be refrigerated and can spoil if left out too long. Many cat owners prefer the ease of filling up a bowl with dry kibble that can last all day over having to dish out set portions of canned wet food several times a day. Dry food may be more suitable for free-feeding cats who prefer to graze throughout the day. According to one source, dry food also has a longer shelf life than wet food once opened.

In addition to convenience, dry cat food is often less expensive than wet food, especially when purchased in bulk sizes. Dry kibble has a lower water content, allowing more calories per pound. According to pet experts, when comparing foods of equal quality, dry foods contain more nutrition per ounce than wet foods. The increased affordability and ability to buy bigger bags makes dry food generally cheaper for many cat owners’ budgets.


Many cats suffer from food allergies, which can cause skin problems like itching, hair loss, and hot spots. Allergies are often caused by ingredients like corn, wheat, soy, dairy, and chicken. Limited ingredient diets with novel proteins like venison or duck can help cats avoid their allergy triggers.

For cats with food allergies, dry foods with fewer ingredients may be better options, according to source1. Dry foods allow for limited ingredients like a single novel protein and carbohydrate source. Wet foods often contain a variety of mystery meat ingredients that can exacerbate allergies.

If your cat has allergy symptoms like itchy skin, consider switching to a limited ingredient dry food made with an unusual protein like venison or duck. Look for foods with 10 or fewer ingredients. Novel proteins and grain-free carbohydrates may help your cat avoid his allergy triggers and find relief. Talk to your vet for specific diet recommendations.


Most veterinarians recommend feeding cats a balanced combination of wet and dry food. This provides the benefits of moisture from wet food and the dental health benefits of dry food (Laursen). Feeding some wet food, even just once a day, can help increase your cat’s water intake. Avoid feeding only dry food if your cat is prone to urinary problems. When choosing a dry food, look for one with 10% moisture or higher. Rotating between a few high-quality wet and dry foods can provide balanced nutrition.


When deciding between wet or dry cat food, each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Dry food is more affordable and convenient, promotes oral health, and may assist with weight control. Wet food has higher moisture content which supports urinary tract health, is often more palatable to fussy cats, and contains fewer carbohydrates. Most veterinarians recommend feeding a combination of wet and dry food to obtain optimal nutrition and health benefits. The ideal wet vs dry ratio depends on your cat’s age, activity level, health issues and personal preferences. Work with your vet to determine the right wet/dry balance, specific calorie needs and feeding schedule for your feline companion. The most important factor is ensuring complete and balanced nutrition from high quality ingredients, regardless of food type. With a little planning, you can provide delicious variety in your cat’s diet using both wet and dry food.

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