Is wet or dry food better for the cat? Here’s the answer!

Hangai Lilla

2024. January 13 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Based on the advice of veterinarian Cathy Meeks, author at PetMD, we help navigate the maze of this topic.


The perpetual cat related question is whether to feed them dry or wet food. We help you decide with pros and cons.

The difference between dry and wet cat food

Naturally, the most significant difference between the two types is the level of moisture, i.e., water content. An average dry cat food contains about 10% water and 90% dry matter. In contrast, an average canned or pouch food contains roughly 70% liquid.

Another crucial difference is evident in the manufacturing process. Due to higher moisture content, wet foods are typically made from fresh or frozen meat, combined with protein from grain sources. The meats are mixed with water, fats, and vitamins, then placed in a can where a heating process ensures the destruction of potential pathogens.

Dry foods are made by combining meats, vitamins, minerals, and fats at high temperatures and pressures, followed by cooking. This process makes the starch in it more digestible. As a finishing touch, fats are often sprayed onto the food to enhance its taste.

In terms of nutritional content, dry cat food generally contains more carbohydrates than canned food. The protein and fat content of canned and dry food can vary depending on the chosen brand and quality of the food.

Deciding whether to feed your cat dry or wet food is not the easiest task.

Pros and cons of dry food


Dry cat food is cheaper than canned, making it a better choice for those on a stricter budget. This includes people feeding stray or community cats.

Dry food does not need refrigeration and has a longer shelf life. It can be used for food puzzles, automatic feeders, or even as treats.

Useful against dental problems because Dry food helps clean a cat’s teeth from deposits.


Studies have shown a correlation between obesity and dry cat food. This might be because cats consuming dry food are often free-fed, eating more than necessary. Regardless of what you feed your cat, it’s recommended to regulate it, feeding multiple times a day in measured portions. However, the opposite can also happen. With free-feeding of dry food, it’s difficult to notice if the cat is not eating enough for some reason.

Older cats with dental problems or those missing some teeth may find it harder to chew dry food.

One crucial thing to know: in the wild, cats get almost all their water needs from their prey. If you only provide dry food, it means they will need to drink more, which can be problematic for a cat, as their natural instinct doesn’t encourage them to consume much liquid. Insufficient water intake can eventually lead to kidney failure and/or urinary tract problems.

Pros and cons of wet food


The main advantage of wet food is its higher water content. For cats with certain health conditions requiring increased water intake, the vet will likely recommend feeding primarily or entirely with wet food.

For picky eaters, canned food might be more suitable as it is generally more palatable.


Unfortunately, wet food is usually more expensive.

After opening, canned food has a shelf life of 24 hours and should be stored in the refrigerator. Proper storage must be observed; it’s not advisable to risk using old opened food.

So, what should you feed your cat?

If you ask us, we recommend feeding your pet with both, but mostly with wet food. You can even combine the two during one meal. This way, you can balance the advantages and disadvantages of both foods, and the texture of the food will be more exciting, something many cats truly appreciate. To ensure the right calorie and nutrient intake in this case, it may be worth consulting your vet.

If your vet prescribes one type of food due to your cat’s illness or special condition, always follow their instructions and advice.

And last but not least, consider what your furry friend likes, meaning what their taste is. If they regularly leave dry food or turn their nose up at canned food, don’t force it! We know how picky they can be, so it’s easy that they may just not like one specific type. It’s worth experimenting with this as well.

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