Is Dry Meals Dangerous for Cats?

Male hand with dry food

Most veterinary nutritionists agree that moist cat meals are higher for a cat’s well being than dry cat meals. However does this imply that dry meals is dangerous for cats?

No. As a result of all cats are people with particular person wants and preferences, and no two diets are the identical. In reality, there are some situations the place dry meals may be your best option to your cat.

There actually is not any one-size-fits-all in the case of vitamin. The excellent news is that the majority full, commercially accessible diets will present your cat with every part they want, whether or not they’re moist or dry.

This text will show you how to perceive the variations between moist and dry cat meals and why dry meals won’t be as optimum to your cat’s well being as moist. It’s going to additionally clarify when dry meals may be the best choice, and what to search for if you wish to select a dry meals to your cat.

Dry vs. Moist Cat Meals

While an entire, balanced dry diet (kibble) is actually not dangerous for cats, wet food is often thought of to be a more sensible choice. So, what precisely is the distinction between moist and dry cat meals?

Additionally Learn: Wet vs. Dry Cat Food: What’s Better For Cats?

Moisture Content material

One of many principal variations between moist and dry cat meals is their moisture content material. Whereas moist cat meals are likely to include 60-80% water, most dry diets include solely round 10% water. Though cats fed dry meals often drink extra to compensate for this, research has proven that cats fed solely dry meals have a decrease overall water intake.

Encouraging water consumption is vital for all cats to forestall dehydration. It’s particularly vital for these with kidney illness or decrease urinary tract illnesses, akin to cystitis. So, in case your cat isn’t a giant drinker, or suffers from urinary tract illness, moist meals could possibly be the higher possibility. If moist meals isn’t an possibility, merely including water to your cat’s dry meals can present a few of the advantages of moist meals.

Calorie Content material

In addition to being helpful for urinary well being, the upper water content material in moist meals means it’s a lot decrease in energy per gram than dry meals. This implies cats can eat extra– and subsequently really feel fuller – with out gaining weight. Moist meals additionally tends to include much less carbohydrates and extra protein, which helps to advertise weight reduction. Due to this fact moist meals is an efficient alternative for cats combating weight problems.


As we all know, cats are people, with particular person likes and dislikes! However generally, the upper protein and fats ranges in moist cat meals make them extra palatable than dry. However it isn’t all about style: cats have very few taste-buds in comparison with people, so the feel and odor of their meals are extra vital than the flavour. Moist meals is stronger smelling and is available in extra different and thrilling textures than dry meals.

The additional tastiness, odor, and texture of moist meals make it a good selection for fussy eaters, or these affected by sickness. It’s also simpler to chew for cats with dental illness, or recovering from dental therapy.

When to Purchase Dry Cat Meals

With its larger moisture content material, decrease calorie density, and elevated palatability, moist meals is the optimum alternative for many cats. However there are some conditions the place dry cat meals may be extra acceptable.

Gaining Wholesome Weight

While the decrease calorie content material of moist meals is nice for cats who’re on the chunkier aspect, it’s typically not the best choice for cats who’re underweight.

Resulting from its density, dry meals offers larger ranges of vitality and vitamins packed right into a smaller quantity. Because of this dry meals may be the best choice for cats struggling to keep up or acquire weight.

Oral Well being

If you wish to take care of your cat’s tooth, there isn’t a substitute for tooth brushing. However not all cats are eager on having their tooth brushed! So, does the kind of meals make a distinction?

Research reveals that cats fed moist solely diets are likely to get extra plaque on their teeth than cats fed solely dry meals. We used to assume this was as a result of dry meals scraped the floor of the tooth when cats chewed it. Nonetheless, some studies recommend it may be as a result of dry meals will increase  saliva manufacturing, and it’s the further saliva that’s defending in opposition to the formation of plaque.

Both manner, the jury continues to be out on precisely what the advantages of dry meals are for oral well being in cats. Importantly, if you’re wanting to decide on a dry weight-reduction plan due to the advantages to your cat’s tooth, be sure it’s one that’s assessed as efficient by the Veterinary Oral Well being Council (VOHC).

Prescription Diets

There are numerous diets accessible these days which can be particularly formulated to assist deal with sure illnesses, akin to diabetes and coronary heart illness. These prescription diets are solely accessible out of your veterinarian and should be used below their supervision. It’s because these diets include vitamins in a distinct ratio to regular cat meals. They’re fastidiously formulated to deal with a sure illness and aren’t appropriate for cats with out that situation.

Many veterinary-prescribed diets can be found in each moist and dry choices, that means the selection is yours. But when your veterinarian has prescribed a therapeutic weight-reduction plan that’s solely accessible in a dry formulation, it’s virtually sure that the advantages of this weight-reduction plan outweigh the disadvantages of it being a dry meals. You should definitely focus on any issues about feeding a cat with a well being situation along with your veterinarian.

Way of life Stage

Sure way of life levels, akin to pregnancy and lactation, require diets excessive in carbohydrates and energy to maintain up with the additional calls for on the physique. Dry diets are often your best option as they’re much extra vitality and nutrient-dense (resulting from their low water content material) and better in carbohydrates – the popular vitality supply for pregnant or lactating cats.


Most moist cat meals quickly dry out and spoil when left down for greater than about an hour. Because of this moist meals isn’t be a good selection for cats preferring to graze on their meals all through the day.

In case your cat is a grazer – or you might be out of the home for a very long time – dry meals is a extra handy and hygienic alternative. It stays more energizing for longer and gained’t spoil in case your cat likes to select on it all through the day.


In fact, cost is a major issue when selecting the perfect weight-reduction plan you possibly can to your cat. As dry meals is extra energy-dense (that means you don’t should feed as a lot) and lasts longer, it’s considerably cheaper to feed than moist meals.

A premium dry meals could provide your cat higher vitamin than a funds moist meals. On this subsequent part, we’ll assist you recognize what to search for in selecting an important dry meals to your cat.

What to Look For in a Dry Cat Meals

packages of Nulo cat food

There may be typically a complicated array of cat meals choices, so it’s vital to know what you’re on the lookout for.

While moist meals has many benefits over dry meals, dry meals continues to be an excellent possibility for a lot of cats. It’s vitality and nutrient-dense, economical, and simpler to retailer and feed – notably for grazers.

However with so many choices in the marketplace – and a whole lot of intelligent advertising instruments at play from pet meals producers – it may be arduous to know the place to begin. So, what do you have to search for if you end up selecting a dry cat meals to your cat?

Additionally Learn: The 10 Best Dry Cat Foods Of 2023

Verify for a Dietary Adequacy Assertion

A very powerful factor to test when selecting a weight-reduction plan to your cat is that it’s nutritionally full and balanced for his or her life stage. While there may be an amazing quantity of knowledge on pet meals labels (and sometimes a whole lot of formidable claims!) the Dietary Adequacy Assertion is the one factor you undoubtedly have to test for.

This assertion tells you that the meals is full and balanced for the meant life stage. It’s going to learn one thing like ”…formulated to fulfill the dietary ranges established by the AAFC cat meals nutrient profiles for all life levels”.

Meals that’s not nutritionally full and balanced could also be labelled as “complementary” or “for supplemental or intermittent feeding solely”. This implies they need to solely be fed as a small portion (lower than 10%) of your cat’s weight-reduction plan.

Way of life Stage

Your cats’ dietary wants will range loads all through their life. While there are some diets which can be “all life stage diets”, these solely want to fulfill the minimal necessities for vitamin at every stage. If attainable, select a meals that’s formulated particularly to your cat’s way of life stage, as an example, kitten, grownup, or senior. This implies you recognize they’re getting the optimum vitamin at each stage.

For instance, senior cat foods have elevated ranges of digestible protein to assist older cats preserve their muscle mass. In addition they typically have added important fatty acids for joint well being. Kitten foods are excessive in fat and protein, preferrred for development.

Excessive Protein, Low Carbohydrate

As hunters, cats have advanced to thrive on a weight-reduction plan that’s high in protein (roughly 50% of their energy), low in carbohydrates (5-15% of their energy), and average in fats (roughly 45% of their energy).

To make life difficult, dry cat meals diets are usually decrease in protein and better in carbohydrates than moist cat meals. Due to this fact, you will need to select a dry meals that meets their wants as carefully as attainable.

Sadly, cat meals labels don’t have to record carbohydrate content material. However you should utilize this online calculator to work out the carbohydrate content material from the opposite nutrient values listed.

Animal Protein Sources

It isn’t solely the quantity of protein that issues, however the place it comes from. Cats are obligate carnivores. So, while cats can digest each plant and animal-based proteins, solely animal proteins present them with all the important amino acids they want – notably taurine. Ensure you search for a complete meat listed as the highest ingredient, and ideally the highest three.

It’s attainable to feed a nutritionally balanced vegetarian weight-reduction plan. However these are often solely acceptable for cats with extreme allergy symptoms who want a weight-reduction plan that doesn’t include animal proteins. These diets are formulated by specialist nutritionists and should be prescribed by a veterinarian.

Should you want to feed your cat a vegetarian weight-reduction plan, it’s best to solely achieve this below the steering of your veterinarian. It’s not attainable to securely feed a cat a vegan weight-reduction plan.

Go Pure

Cat meals labeled as “pure” include 95% pure elements and have solely been subjected to primary processing akin to freezing or drying). This implies you recognize there are not any synthetic flavorings, colours, or preservatives that might have an effect on your cat’s well being.


Basically, the dearer a cat meals is, the upper the standard of the elements. It is best to intention to feed your cat the very best high quality meals you possibly can inside your funds. Given how less expensive dry meals is to feed in comparison with moist meals, you could possibly afford a extra premium vary of dry meals in comparison with a funds moist meals.

Budget range cat foods typically include a “variable” recipe. This implies they’ll change the elements with out informing you or doing a brand new feeding trial. This variability can result in tummy upsets or cat’s all of a sudden going off their meals.

Costlier meals akin to premium and prescription diets often have a “fastened” formulation, that means the formulation can’t be altered with out informing you and enterprise new feeding trials.

Nonetheless, the price of meals doesn’t at all times mirror the standard. Typically, pet meals is pricey as a result of they’ve invested in intelligent advertising instruments. So you must search for a pet meals model you possibly can belief.

Selecting a Trusted Model

When on the lookout for a cat meals model you possibly can belief, the very first thing you must search for is transparency. Are their firm contact particulars straightforward to search out? Who’s formulating their diets and what are their {qualifications}? Do they meet Affiliation of American Feed Management Officers (AAFCO) requirements? Are their claims backed by scientific proof?

All this data ought to be available on the corporate web site or supplied if requested. Your cat meals firm ought to be capable to offer you the quantity of any nutrient of their meals, not simply what’s listed on the label (which are sometimes solely minimal and most values). Failing to offer this data is an actual purple flag.

This guide by the WSAVA International Diet Committee is a superb place to begin for selecting a pet meals model you possibly can belief.

Additionally Learn: The 10 Best Cat Foods In 2023


Persian cat eating dry cat food

Dry meals may be appropriate for cats, however it’s useful to do your analysis earlier than you select.

General, moist meals is the optimum alternative for many cats. However for the correct cat, dry meals can nonetheless be an excellent possibility. Dry meals is cheaper and simpler to feed than moist meals, and so long as it’s full and balanced, it should provide your cat every part they want.

Nonetheless, bear in mind you don’t have to decide on one or the opposite! Utilizing a mix of moist and dry meals also can give most of the advantages of a moist meals weight-reduction plan, while decreasing the general value. This additionally permits for “free-range feeding” of dry meals for cats who prefer to graze, while together with moist meals of their principal meals.

As we all know, all cats are people! You’ll want to think about your cat’s well being, preferences, and way of life in the case of selecting the perfect meals for them.

Regularly Requested Questions

Is it higher to feed cats moist or dry meals?

Most consultants agree that moist cat meals is extra optimum for cat’s well being than dry meals. It’s because it has a better moisture content material, is decrease in carbohydrates and better in protein, is decrease calorie and extra palatable than dry meals. Nonetheless, an entire and balanced dry cat meals will nonetheless give your cat every part they want, while being cheaper and extra handy to feed.

Does dry meals harm cat’s kidneys? 

Analysis reveals that the general water consumption of cats fed moist meals solely is larger than cats fed dry meals solely. A low water consumption has been linked to a lot of illnesses, notably kidney and decrease urinary tract illness akin to cystitis. However there may be presently no clear proof that dry meals could cause kidney illness in cats. 

Is it OK to combine moist and dry cat meals?

Sure! Mixing moist and dry meals can provide the advantages of moist meals (elevated water content material, decrease calorie, decrease carbohydrate and better palatability) while being cheaper to feed than a pure moist meals solely weight-reduction plan. It could actually additionally enable for ‘free-range feeding’, that means dry meals may be left right down to graze on, and moist meals fed with meals.

View Sources

Seefeldt SL, Chapman TE. Physique water content material and turnover in cats fed dry and canned rations. Am J Vet Res; 1979 40:183-185. (decrease water consumption when fed dry meals). Retrieved June 22 2023.

Mata F. The Selection of Weight loss program Impacts the Oral Well being of the Home Cat. Animals (Basel). 2015 Feb 16;5(1):101-9. doi: 10.3390/ani5010101. PMID: 26479140; PMCID: PMC4494333. Retrieved June 22 2023.

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