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Wet vs Dry Cat Food: Which Is Better for Your Cat?

When you walk into any pet shop or supermarket, you get several options for cat food but what does it all mean, or does it matter? Additionally, a common question people ask is whether cats should eat wet or dry cat food?

In this article, I am going to share wet vs dry cat food; which cat food is better for your cat to make happy, healthy and long life.

Whether dry or wet, most commercial cat foods provide excellent nutrition. However, finding the best cat food for your pet depends on several factors like:

  • Your cat’s weight (low, medium or high)
  • Your cat’s present health condition (disease free or not)
  • Nutritional adequacy (complete vs. complimentary)
  • Life stage
  • Lifestyle
  • And obviously your budget

What Nutrients Do Cats Need?

Before diving deep into the debate on wet vs dry cat food, let us first know what nutrients cats need. We know that dogs are omnivorous and they can break down almost any food, whether it’s vegetable or animal protein.

But it’s wholly different for cats. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they only require animal-based protein in their diet. So, the question arises why can’t cats live on plant protein?

Theoretically, cats might get enough protein from plants to exist, but their body needs the amino acid taurine to thrive, which means they need muscle-based meals in their diet.

Cats have short digestive systems, meaning they cannot process the complex cellulose found in herbs. Therefore, introducing cellulose to their diet causes digestive problems.

The nutrition demand in your cat’s body can be fulfilled by wet cat food or dry cat food. But, does wet cat food contain more nutrition and moisture content than dry cat food? So which one stands better?

Let’s find out! 

Main Differences Between Wet Food and Dry Food

Moisture Content

The main difference between dry and cat food is the amount of water the food contains. Water is an essential supplement for the cat’s body. Cats who don’t drink sufficient water may suffer from various disorders.

Food TypeMoisture Content
Dry food<14%
Wet food>60%
Semi moist14-59%

This might be important for you if your cat has certain health conditions and needs proper water intake.

Manufacturing Process

  • Wet cat foods are made by mixing fresh or frozen meats with a protein source from grains. The muscles are combined with water, fats and vitamins and placed in a can. Afterward, they are warmed up to destroy the foodborne pathogens.
  • Dry food is prepared by mixing and cooking meats, vegetables, minerals and fats at high pressure to make the starches more absorbable. Many manufacturers also spray fat over the food to ensure it’s palatable.


Typically, the amount of carbohydrates is more in dry cat food than wet cat food. However, the amount of protein and fats contained in dry and wet cat food can vary depending on the type of diet. Additionally, some dry foods may also contain probiotics.

RELATED: Difference between Cat and Dog food

Which Diet Is Best for My Cat? Wet or Dry Cat Food?

Many cat parents follow the free feeding method where they leave dry food out all the time for their cat. However, again some also provide it with wet food. 

Cats do not receive sufficient nutrients from dry food only. As a result, they might lack the necessary nutrients. This is because many cheap dry foods contain a lot of fillers. Therefore, you can consider adding wet food to their diet. Out in the wild, cats get only 5% of carbohydrate ingesting the stomach content of their prey.


Out in the wild, prey captured by cats contains about 70% water.  Wet cat food averages 78% and dry cat food contains 10%. Therefore, cats on dry food don’t get enough water. As a result, they might develop dehydration, leading to Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) or urinary crystals.

According to an expert, if you keep your cat on a dry cat food diet, she should drink approximately one cup of water every ten pounds of body weight in 24 hours. Of course, in the summer, she’ll drink even more.

Make sure you provide your cat with clean water and you change the pot daily.

Obesity and Feline Diabetes

Cats on a dry food diet have more risks of having diabetes and obesity than cats consuming wet food. Your cat might be prone to diabetes due to the carbohydrate level in many kinds of dry food if you’re allowing 24-hour access to food.

Therefore, to avoid diabetes, stick to premium dry food or try canned food for your cat.

Wet vs Dry Cat Food: Advantages & Disadvantages

Wet Cat Food Benefits

Wet food can eliminate the risk of kidney disease and avoid dehydration in cats. In addition, cats with certain health conditions that need more water intake than normal cats may benefit from the additional water in this diet. Finally, wet cat foods provide some other major advantages like:

  • Urinary Health: Wet foods are useful to prevent urinary tract problems. According to the hypothesis, wet food will promote more dilute urine, resulting in low inflammatory components in the urinary bladder. This is also effective in eliminating kidney disease risks as it ensures sufficient water is provided to the body. Kidney failure is caused in cats due to insufficient water intake. Therefore, make sure your cat is getting enough water.
  • Weight Management: Wet food does not provide calories. As a result, wet food has a lower energy density than dry cat food. Wet foods provide 0.8–1.5 kcal/g, where typical dry food where dry foods provide 3–4 kcal/g or even higher.
  • Constipation: As wet food has a higher moisture level than dry food, it does not cause dehydration. However, dehydration is a risk factor for creating constipation, so wet food can be beneficial in these cases.

    Experts recommend feeding wet food to cats suffering from this problem.

Disadvantages of wet cat food

Yes, wet food has several benefits, but it is more costly than dry cat food, a negative factor. Many cat parents prefer dry food over wet cat food considering the price.

Additionally, the wet cat food has a shelf life of 24 hours and must be stored in the refrigerator once opened. Therefore, if your cat does not finish their wet meal, it should be stored in the refrigerator or discarded.

Leaving cat food out for longer than a few hours might develop the risk of contamination.

Dry Cat Food Benefits

Dry cat foods generally need a lower budget than wet cat food. So if you are buying food to feed community cats, dry food would be a better option.

Moreover, dry food does not have to be stored in the refrigerator and can be left out for a much longer period than wet food. Therefore, dry food can be a good option if you free-feed your cat. However, you should discard any portion not eaten by your cat at the end of the day.

Some other benefits we can achieve from dry food are:

  • Cost: The first benefit of dry food is the cost. Millions of cats around the world are fed dry foods either exclusively or combined. Additionally, if your pet is left out for a long time, dry food allows free feeding.
  • Oral Health: Some dry diets can prevent tartar formation or slow down plaque accumulation, mainly achieved by mechanical scraping teeth. But, again, not all dry foods promote dental health. To maintain the dental health of your cat, ensure your brush regularly.
  • Energy Density: Dry foods have greater energy density than wet. This can be a problem for cats who cannot self-regulate their energy intake.

Disadvantages of dry cat food

Studies have shown that there is a bridge between obesity and dry cat food. Because most of the dry foods are often free-fed and parents don’t realize how much their pets are eating a day. Obesity can lead to diabetes and other serious health issues.

Again, it can be the opposite, and you do not know how much your cat is eating or even if they are not eating at all. Monitor your cat’s amount of food intake daily. Avoid free-feeding to maintain a healthy diet.

Older cats with dental problems might find it hard to chew dry cat food.

So, Is Wet Cat Food Better Than Dry Food?

So we come to the point to decide, is wet food better than dry food? After all the discussions above, you might think that wet food is better than dry food, right? Well, not necessarily.

A cheaply produced wet food is no better than your premium dry food. Remember depending on the price there are three types of cat food- economic, premium, super-premium. Economical wet/dry cat foods do not always result in good health.

Also, check the ingredients. It should list animal-source protein and its #1 ingredient and ensure it does not contain meat by-products.

According to some people, cat foods can lead to dental problems, including gingivitis. Well, that’s not true if you keep your cat’s teeth clean and ensure a regular checkup.

Therefore, wet cat food is better than dry food in certain conditions because of the water content and nutrients. However, wet food is more costly than dry food, so it gets hard if you have a strict budget.

What Wet and Dry Foods are Recommended by Veterinarians?

Regardless of what type of meal you choose for your cat, ensure a well-balanced diet to meet their body requirements. Some well-known brands like Science Diet and Royal Canin have excellent quality and these brands ensure that your cat is getting enough nutrients it requires.

However, your veterinarian can give you more specific recommendations based on your cat’s health history. Don’t give them homemade food unless the vet recommends it.

Consulting with the vet is an important factor for choosing the right diet for your pet. If you don’t seek help from a qualified vet, your cat might lack essential vitamins and minerals. That is why consulting with the vet is necessary to set up the appropriate diet for your cat.

Feeding Both Wet and Dry Food

To balance the advantages and disadvantages of wet and dry cat food, you may also combine them both for your cat’s diet. This is appropriate for cats who need a higher water intake and enjoy dry food than wet.

How can I combine wet and dry food in my cat’s diet?

Either by mixing both duets or giving wet food at a time and dry food at the other time, you may be able to achieve the benefits of both diets.

If you’re willing to mix the wet and dry food, talk with your veterinarian to find the best balance. Your veterinarian will be able to determine the right portion of the two diets according to your cat’s present condition.

Remember, every cat is different and the amount of food you feed to every cat is different. Feeding manually when your cat is hungry is a lot better than free-feeding unless you have a busy schedule.

My Cat Only Eats Dry Food, How to Make Sure She’s Getting Sufficient Water?

If your cat is on a dry diet, it is best to promote water intake to prevent urinary problems. A constant supply of fresh and clean water should always be available. Some other steps that can promote water intake are:

  • Location of water bowls: Keep the water intake separate from litter and food bowl areas. Select a quiet, suitable place for the water station for your cat to drink without being disturbed.
  • Choice of water bowl: Cats seem to prefer ceramic or steel bowls. Use a flat bowl since some cats don’t like their whiskers touching the water.
  • Multiple drinking stations: In most cases, multiple water stations seem to increase the water intake of cats. Instead, place a water bowl at different corners of the house and allow your cat to drink freely.
  • Install a water fountain: Some cats tend to drink from running water. That is why we often see them drinking tap water when it’s running. Install a water fountain to use as a good alternative in these cases. Make sure the water fountain is often cleaned and filtered as recommended by the manufacturer.


Is wet or dry food better for my cat’s health?

Some cats prefer wet food, while others prefer dry food. Ultimately, it is up to the owner to decide what is best for their cat’s health.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both wet and dry food. Wet food generally contains more moisture, which can be beneficial for cats that are prone to dehydration. Dry food, on the other hand, is typically higher in calories and may help cats maintain a healthy weight.

What is the water content of wet cat food?

The water content of wet cat food can vary depending on the recipe, but is typically around 78-80%.

Do cats need wet food every day?

No, cats do not need wet food every day. In fact, most cats will do just fine if they only eat wet food a few times a week. However, some cats may prefer to eat wet food more often, and there are a variety of wet foods available to cater to their preferences.

Can cats live on dry food only?

Cats can survive on a dry food diet, but it is not ideal for their health. Dry food is typically lower in moisture than wet food, which can lead to dehydration. Dehydration can cause serious health problems, including kidney disease.

Should cats eat both wet and dry food?

Most cats will eat both wet and dry food, although some may prefer one over the other. If you have a kitten, it’s best to feed them both wet and dry food to get them used to it. Kittens need to eat more often than adult cats, so they may prefer wet food because it’s easier to eat small meals more often.

Adult cats can be more finicky, so you may have to experiment to see what they prefer. If your cat is overweight, you may want to feed them mostly dry food to help them lose weight.


Dry and wet cat food both have advantages and disadvantages. Cats are supposed to drink sufficient water if they are on a dry food diet. Insufficient water can lead to urinary tract disorders, constipation and obesity.

Dry foods can effectively provide calories in thin cats and use them in puzzles and other toys, while wet cat food does not contain calories. Wet foods are generally a bit more costly than dry food and that is why people consider dry food over wet food.

However, if your cat does not intake sufficient water, wet food is the better option. Remember, a prolonged diet of dry food can cause several health risks.

Author Jayne Taylor: Jayne started out as a veterinary nurse before she had her son, Joshua, and later her daughter Lily. Jayne is a passionate cat lover and has two fur-babies Max and Silky. She admits to having a particular soft spot for Russian blue cats and says she does her best not to make Max jealous when she pays special attention to Silky, her Russian blue. While Jayne was on maternity leave she noticed it wasn’t easy to find the information she wanted about her beloved animals so she decided to start Cat Informer!

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