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Is Wet or Dry Cat Food Better? What You Should Know

By Bridget Reed


If you’re a concerned pet parent, you might wonder what the difference is between dry cat food and wet cat food. Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer as to whether wet or dry food is better for your four-legged friend. 

That said, we’ll cover all the benefits and downsides of both types of food in this article so that you can make the best choice for your cat’s diet.

What’s the Difference Between Wet and Dry Cat Food?

Before we look at the benefits and downsides of both types of food, it’s important to understand their differences. Dry food refers to small, brown kibble pellets usually packaged in an air-tight bag. Wet food is any type of food that comes in any type of gravy. Usually, wet food comes in a can or pouch. 

AAFCO Standards

When buying food for your feline, whether wet or dry, you should always ensure it meets AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) standards. If cat food meets AAFCO standards, it will have all the nutrients your furry friend needs to stay happy and healthy. 

Moisture Content 

Given that both wet and dry food can provide your feline with a nutritionally complete diet, the main difference between the two is moisture content. Wet food contains roughly 70 to 85 percent water whereas dry food contains anywhere from six to 10 percent water. 

Nutrient Content

You might also notice that wet food contains more protein and fat and dry food contains more carbohydrates. However, the exact amount of protein, fat, and carbs in your feline’s kibble or wet food depends on the formula. 


The way both types of food are manufactured is another key difference between them. Given that wet food contains a higher water content, it is normally made by blending a protein source (either fresh or frozen) with a grain-based protein. Water, fat, and vitamins are added to the blender, and everything is put in a can. From there, the mixture is heated to kill any pathogens.

Kibble is made by combining meat, vitamins, minerals, and fats and cooking them at a high temperature. The high temperature and pressure make the starches in cat food more digestible. Fat or flavor may be added to the food to make it more enticing for your feline friend. 

What Are the Benefits and Downsides of Wet Cat Food?

Now that you know more about the differences between both types of cat food, let’s take a close look at the benefits and downsides of wet cat food.


Arguably the biggest benefit of wet cat food or canned cat food is the high moisture content. Felines can develop several health conditions that require them to consume more liquid than normal. 

These conditions include kidney disease, diabetes, or lower urinary tract disease. Since cats are not always fond of drinking water, feeding them food with a high moisture content can be beneficial to incorporate more liquid into their diet. 

Generally speaking, wet food normally has more protein and fewer carbohydrates. Because cats are obligate carnivores, they do not need to eat carbohydrates to maintain a balanced diet and need to consume plenty of animal protein. Low-carbohydrate wet food can also be beneficial for cats who struggle with diabetes. 

Another benefit of wet food is that it can be easy for older cats or cats struggling with dental health. The soft, chewy texture may be easier on a cat's teeth than dry kibble's hard, crunchy texture.

The large amounts of protein in wet food also make it more palatable for many felines. That said, you know your four-legged friend’s likes and dislikes better than anyone. Although most cats prefer wet food, it’s smart to experiment with your feline to see what they like the best. 


The biggest downside of wet cat food for most pet parents is cost. Although the added moisture in wet cat food can be extremely beneficial for your feline, it also means that you have to feed your cat more wet food than you would dry food. 

Since wet food usually costs more than dry food, it can be too expensive for some pet parents to consistently feed their cat wet food.

Another downside of wet food is that it goes bad quickly. You can leave your cat’s wet food out for a few hours before it goes bad. 

If your cat likes to eat and graze throughout the day, then wet food might not work for them. Additionally, if you don’t have time to feed your cat three structured meals a day, wet food might not work for you.

What Are the Benefits and Downsides of Dry Food?

Although it may be less appealing for some felines, dry food also has several benefits to consider before deciding what type of food is best for your four-legged friend. This section will dive into the benefits and downsides of dry food. 


Since dry food has a lower moisture content, it tends to have a higher nutritional concentration per volume than wet cat food. This means that your cat needs to eat less kibble to get the same benefits as they would from a larger amount of wet food. 

Dry food also has a longer shelf life than wet food. You can leave kibble in your cat’s bowl all day, and it won’t go bad, making it a great option for pet parents who do not have a schedule that allows them to feed their feline two or three meals a day. 

Kibble also tends to be a more cost-effective option for pet parents. Given that your cat can get all the nutrients they need from a well-made dry food, you can feed them an entirely kibble diet — as long as they get the hydration they need. 


If you leave dry food out during the day, it can be difficult to portion control for your cat, which may lead to weight gain. Also, for felines who are picky eaters, dry kibble may not be flavorful enough to pique their interest. Although dry food can meet your cat’s nutritional needs, you may have to supplement their kibble with cat treats to make their meals more interesting.

The other downside of dry food is that it does not help your cat with hydration. If you feed your feline kibble, you will have to think consciously about ways to increase their water intake to avoid health issues such as dehydration and constipation. 


To find the best food for your cat, you may need to try both wet and dry food to see what they prefer and what works best for your lifestyle. Wet food may be better for your feline if they are a picky eater or struggle with hydration or dental issues. 

Dry food might be better for you and your cat if they like to graze throughout the day. However, as long as you give them high-quality formulations, any type of food can keep your cat happy and healthy.


Chronic Kidney Disease | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Managing feline diabetes: current perspectives | NIH

Urinary tract infection and subclinical bacteriuria in cats: A clinical update | NIH

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