There is a lot of controversy about what people should feed their cats. When asked “What do cats eat?” veterinarians and cat behaviorists all agree that cats are obligate carnivores – meaning that it is a biological and dietary necessity that cats eat meat.
But how our pet cats get that meat and in what form is at the heart of the controversy.
Some experts insist that cats have dry food to help prevent tartar from building up on their teeth. Others say that dry food, (including grain free brands) is junk food and bad for cats and will actually leave residue on the cat’s teeth adding to the tartar accumulation. On the other side, some proponents of dry food believe that wet food is bad for cats because they believe it leads to dental problems including gingivitis.
Cats need water in their diet
Free roaming cats that hunt for their food eat prey that contains about 70 percent water – this is normal amount of water intake for them.
On the average, wet cat food contains 78 percent water. Dry cat food on the other hand, averages only 10 percent.
So you can see why cats on a dry food only diet do not get enough water. If a cat does not ingest enough water, they can become chronically dehydrated which can lead to health issues like urinary crystals and Chronic Renal Failure (CRF).
According to Purina, if you feed your cat dry food only, they should drink approximately one cup of water for every ten pounds of body weight in a 24-hour period – that’s a lot of water for a cat to drink. And in the hotter months, they would need to drink even more.
A cat that is fed canned cat food only needs one-third to one-half of that amount of water – a more reasonable amount for a cat to ingest.
What are the benefits of wet food for cats?
- Hydration: As already noted, cats need to be to ingest enough water to stay hydrated. Feeding them wet food will help keep your cat well hydrated.
- Skin & Coat: The additional proteins and essential fatty acids found in wet foods will help prevent dull dry skin and keep your cat’s coat smooth and shiny.
- Healthy Weight: If your cat eats only dry food, they are likely to be getting less nutrition and more fillers than a cat eating wet food. In the wild, carbohydrates are only about five percent of a cat's diet - what they get from ingesting the stomach contents of their prey. As with people, eating too many carbohydrates will lead to weight gain. Wet food diets contain less carbohydrates and more meat promoting a healthy weight for your cat.
- Energy: In addition to promoting a healthy weight for your cat, when your cat eats a high-moisture diet they tend to eat less food and have higher energy levels and are more active.
- Smaller Stools: Wet cat food tends to contain less grains and starches. When a cat digests canned or raw food with less fillers, they eliminate less waste – smaller and fewer stools.
And It's Tasty! Wet cat food has an appealing aroma that dry food doesn’t have and tends to be more palatable to cats than dry food.
It’s good to know
Canned cat foods are a convenient option, but wet food doesn't always have to come in a can. In addition to canned, “wet” cat food includes raw food, reconstituted food and home made cat food.
Realistically, some of the best wet cat foods are costly. When choosing a canned cat food, check the ingredients to make a wise choice. An animal protein source should be the number one ingredient, and ideally it should not contain meat by-products.
So you see, adding wet food as little as once a day will offer many health benefits!