Wet Cat Food or Dry Cat Food? That is the question that commonly arises when someone decides to start feeding their cat. Many owners often don’t know how much wet and dry food to feed a cat (or adult cat vs kittens). There are many factors that determine the answer to this questions. There are a few different things you need to consider before you make a decision on what to feed your cat: How old is your cat? What type of food do you currently feed your cat? Does your veterinarian recommend that you change your cats diet? What choices of food do you have in your area?
How Often Should I Feed My Cat Wet Food?
You can feed your cat wet food daily. If you’re wondering, “how much wet food should I feed my cat?” check the can or consult your veterinarian for feeding recommendations. In general, you can feed an average-sized adult cat one 3-ounce can per 3 to 3½ pounds of body weight daily.
You should adjust this amount depending on whether you also feed your cat dry kibble. Your veterinarian may also recommend feeding more or less wet food depending on your cat’s weight, health and other factors.
You can feed your cat wet food any time of day. It’s important to remember, though, that canned food cannot sit out for more than a half hour to an hour or it will spoil. So, it’s best to feed at a time where you can clean up after your cat if they don’t eat it all.
You can leave dry kibble out all day, so some owners serve it in the morning for their cats to graze on while they’re at work. At night, they feed wet food and refrigerate any leftovers. You could do the opposite, or even serve a mix of wet and dry food at each meal. It all depends on your schedule and your cat’s preferences.
How to Store Wet Cat Food
“If you only feed your cat a partial can, or they don’t consume everything at one sitting, you can store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three days,” according to Purina Nutritionist Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS. “If you have a special lid for canned goods, you can use that as well. Be sure to store unopened cans at room temperature.”
Unopened cans will keep for up to two years in the pantry. Product shelf life may vary, however, so check the manufacturer’s website for more information.
How to Serve Wet Cat Food
Most cats will enjoy wet food at room temperature. Your cat may not like cold food, so after refrigerating it, you may want to set it out for about 15 minutes to allow it to come up to room temperature before serving.
Your cat may also enjoy a combination of textures, so try mixing her wet and dry cat food. To keep things interesting, consider adding a topper or complement to her wet food. This adds even greater variety and makes mealtime more exciting.
“These recommendations are a simple and fun way to supplement your cat’s diet and to give them a special treat,” Carbo-Johnson explains. “Remember not to exceed their total daily caloric recommendations, though. Refer to the brand’s website and nutrition label for further instructions on combining wet and dry food. This will tell you how much to decrease dry kibble as you add wet cat food to their diet,” she says.
How to Choose a High-Quality Wet Cat Food
You want nothing but the best for your cat, so you want to choose the highest quality wet cat food possible. To do so, look for cans stating they are “complete and balanced.” This means they will meet all your cat’s nutritional requirements to keep them healthy.
Some cats are picky, so you may need to try several different varieties and brands before you find something your cat loves. Once you do, you can feel confident making wet food a regular part of their diet.
Domestic Cats Retain Their Wild Appetites
Cats having their feed provided have a lower caloric need per day than if they had to find, catch and eat it for a living. As cats age, they have a significant drop in activity and metabolic rate without any decrease in appetite. This makes maintaining an ideal weight harder over time.
Your Cat May Have Trained You to Feed it
The act of feeding is a training exercise between the cat and the feeder. Cats often key on the behaviors and acts that are a preview to feeding them and try to get the feeder to engage in these. A good example is feeding the cats as soon as you get out of bed in the morning. The cats will very often try to get the person up in the morning so that they get fed earlier and earlier and earlier…
Another example is the cat running into the kitchen every time the fridge is opened since that is where they know you store the canned food.
A Hungry Cat Often Looks for Mischief
Another factor to consider is that a hungry cat is a busy cat, often seeking out food, stalking or grumpy towards the other cats (who it blames for eating the food that is not there), bothering the people around the house, or engaging in other destructive behaviors.
Being busy is good in that it makes the cat more active, which helps burn calories, but the nature of the business is often not appreciated by the rest of the house. By feeding a cat in response to these behaviors, the cat is encouraged to act this way. One of the hardest things to do is to let a cat be hungry without rewarding the associated behaviors.
Choosing Between Dry Food, Canned Food, Or Both
In general, you need not offer multiple flavors and textures to cats. They get very good at training their owners to add something else to the mix if the cat shows any hesitation to eat what is given. If the cat is otherwise acting fine, a choice to not eat what is offered can be normal, or a test by the cat to see if something better will show up. Very, very few cats need any encouragement to eat. The opposite is usually a goal.
Canned Food is the Best Choice For Healthy Cats
Canned food is more beneficial than dry food for several reasons. But, it is also more expensive and messier to feed. As fresh-kill hunters, cats in the wild consume most of their water along with fresh prey and do not have a strong drive to drink independently of eating. I believe most dry food cats under consume water resulting in stress on their kidneys and overly concentrated urine. Canned food mimics the water content of their prey in the wild. This encourages more dilute urine that is less likely to lead to bladder and kidney issues overtime.
Canned food also tends to be lower in carbohydrates compared to dry food (you can’t make dry food without flour) and thereby higher in protein. High protein, low carb diets are touted by some to be less likely to cause obesity in cats, but this has been disproven in feeding studies; total calories consumed is most important. Most cats need 4-5 ounces of canned food per day, total. Pate-style varieties tend to be higher in calories per can than the varieties that more resemble people food with chunks and gravies- this can be useful when trying to fine-tune the number of calories per day being consumed.
Dry Food: An Affordable, but Less-Healthy Option
Dry food is extremely calorie-dense. It has no water in it to contribute volume to the food. Because of this, feeding just dry food means your cat will be hungrier if getting an adequate number of calories in the food because of the smaller volume given. Based on this, free choice dry food, even a low-calorie version, will not prevent weight gain.
How to Control Your Cat’s Weight on a Dry Food Diet
Splitting the dry food into multiple small controlled volumes over the course of the day is most useful. That way, the cat is never full and never quite starving. With most cats, dropping below 1/3 to ½ cup of dry food per 24 hour day will make them too hungry even if adequate calories are being taken in. The actual amount needed by any given kitty is going to be unique to that cat and will likely change (decrease) as the cat ages.
Using canned green beans can add bulk to the diet to make cats feel more full. This should not be done with cats that have a history of urinary tract crystals (FLUTD) since the veggies raise the urinary pH, which predisposes to crystal formation.
Beware Feeding Your Cat Both Dry and Canned Food
The fastest way to get and maintain an overweight cat is to feed both canned and dry food. Even if a cat has just filled up on dry food, most will readily pack in any canned food offered (or vice versa). It is tough to regulate the amount of each type of food, so the cat is getting the correct number of calories.
Next time you’re at the pet store, don’t be afraid to ask the staff member for help in deciding what amount of food your cat should have. They know more than you think! And if you have an older cat, make sure to pay close attention to the instructions on their food. Research has shown that this kind of routine can not only keep your kitty healthy for years to come, but it can also make a huge impact on their chances of making it another seven years!