The Irresistible Allure of Kibble. Why Cats Can’t Get Enough


Just the other day, I walked into the kitchen to find my cat, Mittens, sitting eagerly in front of her food bowl, meowing loudly. As soon as I grabbed the bag of kibble and began pouring it into her bowl, her eyes lit up and she started purring excitedly. Mittens gobbled up every last morsel in mere seconds. This scene plays out every time I feed her – it’s clear she is absolutely obsessed with her kibble!

In this article, we’ll dive into the reasons why cats like Mittens become so fixated on dry food. We’ll explore how kibble provides cats with nutrition, convenience, and variety. We’ll also discuss how kibble aligns with a cat’s natural behaviors and evolutionary history. While an obsession with kibble is common in cats, we’ll also look at potential downsides and how to transition away from kibble dependence if needed.

Kibble Tastes Good to Cats

Kibble manufacturers add appetizing flavorings to make the food more palatable for cats. Many kibbles contain proteins like chicken, fish, lamb, and beef mixed with grain fillers like corn and rice. Popular flavors include chicken, salmon, tuna, turkey, and duck [1]. Companies use both natural and artificial flavorings to enhance the taste. For example, Friskies uses ingredients like chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, and artificial flavors in their kibble recipes [2]. Adding savory flavors makes the kibble more enticing to cats.

Many brands also offer seasoning packets cat owners can sprinkle on top of kibble to further enhance the flavor. Products like Sassy Cat Kibble Seasoning contain salmon oil, dried salmon, and natural flavorings [3]. The combination of flavors mixed into kibble and add-on seasonings stimulates cats’ appetite and taste buds.

Kibble Provides Nutrition

Kibble is formulated to provide complete and balanced nutrition for cats according to established nutrient profiles by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Dry kibble contains essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids that cats need. According to Orijen, kibble diets are fortified with vitamin supplements and chelated minerals. For example, Orijen Original Cat contains vitamin A, vitamin D3, vitamin E, niacin, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12, zinc proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, sodium selenite and potassium iodide.

The macronutrient profile of kibble provides a balanced diet for cats as well. According to Crave, their chicken recipe contains 40% protein, 16% fat and 39% carbohydrates. This provides a nutrient-dense source of energy from high-quality animal ingredients.

While raw diets may seem closer to a cat’s natural diet, most kibble recipes provide complete nutrition that would be difficult to balance in a homemade raw diet without consulting a veterinary nutritionist. Therefore, kibble provides convenience along with assurance that nutritional requirements are met.

Kibble is Convenient

One of the main reasons cats love kibble so much is that it’s very convenient for owners. Kibble can be easily portioned out into a bowl or automatic feeder and left out for cats to eat whenever they want throughout the day. Dry kibble has a long shelf life compared to wet food or homemade options, so owners can buy large bags and store it easily without worrying about it spoiling quickly.

Opening a bag and pouring kibble into a bowl takes minimal prep work compared to making a raw or homemade diet. Owners don’t have to spend time shopping for fresh ingredients, preparing and cooking food, or storing homemade portions. The simple convenience of kibble makes it an appealing choice for many cat owners.

Cats also seem to love the convenience of always having kibble available to nibble on. Unlike having to wait for designated meal times, cats can eat whenever they feel hungry if kibble is readily available. The crunchy texture and smaller kibble pieces also make it easy for cats to eat kibble anytime. With kibble requiring less prep work for owners and being constantly accessible for cats, it’s no wonder it’s often a cat favorite.

Overall, the convenience factor of kibble being easy to portion, store and serve, with minimal prep work required, makes it a popular choice for cat owners and cats alike. This convenience helps explain why kibble is such an integral part of many cats’ diets.

Kibble Provides Dental Benefits

One of the main benefits of feeding cats kibble is that it helps clean their teeth and reduce plaque and tartar buildup. According to PetMd, kibble’s crunchy texture helps scrape away tartar as the cat chews [1]. The abrasive action of chewing kibble helps remove bacteria and food particles, massaging the gums in the process. Wet food, on the other hand, tends to stick to the teeth, providing an environment for bacteria to thrive.

Studies have shown that cats fed a kibble diet, especially those formulated for dental health, have significantly less plaque and tartar buildup compared to cats fed only canned food. As explained on VetStreet, the carbs in kibble support the growth of “good” bacteria in the mouth that fight “bad” bacteria that cause plaque accumulation and periodontal disease [2]. Specific ingredients like sodium pyrophosphate also bind to calcium to prevent tartar from hardening on the teeth.

While wet food is important for hydration, incorporating some kibble into a cat’s diet provides abrasive action for cleaner teeth and fresher breath. There are many dental health kibble formulas available that are designed to effectively reduce plaque and tartar buildup [3].

Kibble Evolved with Cats

Kibble became popular as cats transitioned from being outdoor hunters to indoor pets. As cats started living indoors more over the past century, cat owners needed a convenient way to feed their cats that mimicked their natural hunting behaviors. According to Feline Nutrition, commercial pet food originated in the mid-1800s when James Spratt developed the first mass-produced dry dog biscuits. Cats were mostly outdoor hunters at this time.

The pet food industry expanded the variety and accessibility of cat food through the 1900s as cats spent more time indoors. Dry kibble allowed cats to graze on their food throughout the day rather than eat one or two large meals. Kibble provides mental stimulation as cats paw at the pieces, mimicking their ancestral hunting behaviors. As Feline Nutrition notes, the dry kibble format evolved along with the cat’s transition to being indoor pets.

Transitioning Away from Kibble

While kibble provides convenience and routine for cats, some pet owners may want to transition their cat to a different diet for health or nutritional reasons. When transitioning a cat away from kibble, it’s important to do so gradually to allow the cat’s digestive system to adjust.

First, determine how much kibble your cat is currently eating daily. Then, over the course of 1-2 weeks, start replacing a small portion of the kibble with wet canned food or a raw food diet, while keeping the total amount of food the same. For example, replace a 1/4 cup of kibble with 1/4 cup of canned food.

Gradually increase the amount of new food while decreasing the kibble over several more weeks. Go slowly and allow the transition to take 1-2 months total. This gradual approach prevents digestive upset. Only make one change at a time, either to the food type or amount. According to Catster, patience is key when transitioning a cat’s diet.

Wet and raw diets typically have more protein and moisture than kibble, so they can support urinary tract health, reduce risk of diabetes and obesity, and help with hairballs. Consult your veterinarian for the best food options and portions for your cat.

Kibble Provides Variety

Manufacturers offer many flavors, shapes, and sizes of kibble cat food, which allows owners to rotate between types and provide variety in their cat’s diet. There are chicken, fish, beef and other meat flavors, as well as mixes with fruits, vegetables, or supplements. The kibble comes in different shapes like circles, squares, triangles, stars, and spirals (Chewy). Owners can choose recipes formulated for kittens, adults, seniors, indoor cats, hairball control, weight control, sensitive stomachs, and other needs. The wide range of options allows an owner to select a few different kibbles and rotate between them so the cat gets nutritional variety. Cats tend to enjoy the novelty of changing flavors and shapes.

Cats Love Routine

Cats are creatures of habit and prefer routines when it comes to mealtimes. In the wild, cats have predictable routines for hunting and eating. Domestic cats have retained this tendency and feel most comfortable when mealtimes occur at predictable times.

Feeding cats kibble makes it easy to establish a regular feeding routine. Unlike wet food which must be refrigerated and has a shorter shelf life, kibble can be left out and makes feeding on a consistent schedule simpler. Cats who are fed kibble at the same times each day come to eagerly anticipate their scheduled feedings.

According to the Iams pet food company, “Cats usually eat many small meals throughout the day, so they easily adopt a free-choice feeding schedule to maintain their normal body weight. Dry foods, such as kibble, may be left out for cats to nibble on throughout the day.” This demonstrates how kibble accommodates cats’ natural inclination for frequent small meals.

Overall, cats thrive on predictable routines, and kibble’s convenience and longevity allow caregivers to easily provide the consistent feeding times cats love.


Cats are often obsessed with kibble for good reasons. Kibble is tasty, nutritious, convenient, provides dental benefits, aligns with cats’ evolutionary biology, offers variety, and fits into cats’ love of routine. While some cat owners may want to transition their cats away from kibble, for most cats, kibble is a healthy, appealing, and easy way to feed them.

Kibble’s crunchy texture and savory flavors make it very palatable for cats. It is carefully formulated to give cats complete and balanced nutrition. Kibble’s dryness also helps clean cats’ teeth. Since early domesticated cats evolved eating rodents, kibble’s small, hard pieces align with their natural eating behavior. Having different kibble flavors and brands gives cats diversity. Cats feel comforted by kibble’s consistency at mealtimes. For all these reasons, it makes sense why kibble is so irresistible to cats!

Kibble clearly provides major advantages for cats and cat owners. Given kibble’s popularity among cats, do you think it’s possible or advisable to transition cats to other diets? What would be your cat’s reaction if you tried to serve something other than their beloved kibble?

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