Can Cats Live on Dry Food Only? (Or is this Unsafe?)
If you are keen on the right food for your cat, you may be wondering if a strictly dry cat food diet is ok (Click here to see my best dry cat food, on Amazon), and what you need do to maintain it.
Can cats live on dry food only?
Cats can live off dry cat food only. But, they need plenty of water to go with it so they do not get hydrated. And, keep a balanced diet overall. The issue with dry cat food is the lack of water content, which makes it hard to keep your cat hydrated, without wet food.
Is wet food bad for your cat’s teeth?
Wet cat food is not bad for your cat’s teeth, in general. It can slightly contribute to the plaque build-up on your cat’s teeth, but it’s not a major factor. Also, the theory that dry cat food is good for your cat’s teeth has not been proven.
So, you have learned that wet food is not a cause for bad teeth. But, a minor factor in plaque build-up. It is worth monitoring your cat’s intake of wet food though. But, not for the dangers to her teeth, but just for the total calories consumed in a day.
Do cats need wet food every day?
Cats do not need wet cat food every day. In fact, they do not have to have it at all. But, it can be beneficial, mainly for its high water content. It will help your cat keep well hydrated, avoid dehydration, and any related diseases.
If you use just dry cat food, its worth using a cat water fountain (Click here to see why I rate this one) to increase your cat’s water consumption.
Does dry food cause kidney failure in cats?
Dry cat food does not cause kidney failure. However, if you do not keep your cat hydrated well, which is challenging because of its lack of water, your cat could get kidney issues, such as Chronic Kidney disease (CKD), or even urinary tract infections.
So, now you know that are not likely to get kidney issues from dry cat food alone. But, keeping them hydrated (Click here to see why this helps, on Amazon) is very important.
Why choosing the best cat food is important
Being a cat parent, you always want to do what’s best for your cat, starting from food. And it can be very difficult to choose between wet cat food and dry cat food. Both of them have their advantages and disadvantages.
According to Jennifer Larsen who is the Assistant Clinical Nutrition Professor of a renowned Teaching Hospital in UC, Davis, and also a clinical nutritional consultant, most cats do well on either of the cat foods. Here are a few things about Wet cat food and dry cat food (Click here to see my best one, on Amazon) that can make the task of choosing the right food for your cat less daunting.
Wet Cat Food or Canned Cat Food?
Canned Food is more watery and this helps to keep your cat hydrated especially if your cat’s water intake is not much.
Dry Cat Food
Dry cat food is something most cat parents have at home merely for its convenience factor. The water-content in this food is almost negligible and also the calorie count is pretty high is dry cat foods.
What are the advantages of using Wet Cat Food?
As the moisture content in wet canned foods is very high, wet canned food can help your cat feel fuller and also keep your cat hydrated. Also, these foods are protein-rich and are very low in carbohydrates.
So if your cat drinks (Click here to see if your cat can drink lemonade) very less water or if your cat is weighing a little more than it should or if it is having medical conditions like diabetes, urinary tract issues or kidney problems or if your cat is having some difficulty in chewing the food, then it is recommended that you feed your cat canned food.
Also, a lot of cats prefer canned foods over dry kibble as they find it tastier and also find it easily digestible. According to Dr. Micheal W. Fox, a veterinary doctor, canned foods are better than dry kibble as they are low on cereals.
What is the downside of feeding your cat Wet Cat Food?
Wet cat food or canned food is very expensive and not the preferred option for cat parents who have a strict budget. Also if you are not at home most of the time and you want to open the food and leave the food out for your cat, the chances of the food getting spoilt are high especially if it is left out all day.
There is also another disadvantage of feeding your cat wet food, especially if she is a messy one, the food can stick to her nose and whiskers.
What are the advantages of feeding your cat Dry Cat Food?
Compared to wet canned food, dry cat food (Click here to see if you can add water to dry cat food) is less expensive and thus a more economical option for cat parents. And dry food is mostly preferred by cat parents who free-feed their cats. Dry food is also considered good for your cat’s thyroid health.
Also, dry food is better for underweight cats as it is high in carbohydrates. And in case you are planning to give your cat an all-day-buffet then you should go for dry food. Some cat owners even go for organic cat food to improve the quality (Click here to see why I rated this one).
What are the disadvantages of Dry Cat Food?
The name itself tells us that dry cat food has very little, almost negligible water content in it, and also has a high level of carbohydrates. According to Dr. Becker, there is enough evidence to prove that dry cat food can result in Urinary Tract Diseases.
This was also supported by a study that was conducted at the Veterinary Medicine School in Jerusalem, and they evaluated urethral obstruction(UO) which is considered to be a serious condition in cats.
What are the factors that influence the choice of Cat Food?
The feeding nature, your cat’s energy level, and whether she is an indoor cat or does she stay mostly outdoors, are some factors that play a vital role in deciding the right food for your cat.
Larsen also tells Pets WebMD that there are equations that can be used to predict the amount of energy a cat needs like a climate, your cat’s metabolism, and your cat’s activity.
Depends on Lifestyle…
Feeding nature mainly depends on your lifestyle. Whether you are at home all day to feed your cat during intervals or you are a working professional and you leave the food out for your cat until the evening will decide the choice of cat food.
There are three ways in which you can feed your cat. One is feeding your cat at a specific time, that is, timed feeding, and not making it available during other times of the day. This allows you to control the food intake for your cat.
Free-choice feeding is a method for those who are not at home most of the time. This is not an ideal method for feeding your cat as the food is available to your cat all day. Combination or mixed feeding is the best way to feed your cats. Let your cats have the best of both the foods.
While eating wet canned foods will reduce their appetite and will keep health issues like urinary tract problems at bay, feeding them dry food is believed to help keep their teeth clean (but, could be a myth) and satisfy their craving to have small meals once in a while.
Mindy Bough who is a certified veterinary technician, recommends cat parents to feed their cats twice daily using the portion control method.
Bough also suggests that do this it’s better to follow the label and divide your cat’s food into two meals and let the time interval between both the meals be eight to 12 hours. Bough is also a senior director of client services for the Midwest Office of American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals(ASPCA).
So the bottom line is…
There is no right way to feed your cat but you can definitely make sure that your cat has the right meal with the right amount of protein and carbohydrates by ensuring that you give your cats a mix of wet canned and dry food.
The way you feed is just as important
Also, the way you feed your cat is just as important as what you feed her, are you with me? So, this is why some smart cat owners use high cat feeding tables (Click here to see why I rated this so highly).
Dr. Tracey Jensen, D.V.M, Dipl. ABVP says, “Although free-feeding is an easy and a more convenient option especially for pet parents who work full time, it can lead to cats becoming obese especially if they are deprived of environmental enrichment, that is, things that provide them with activity and mental engagement.”
She also adds that our cats are no different from us. Just like normal people, once they put on weight it will be very difficult to get the extra pounds off them.Dr. Jensen is also the founding partner of Wellington Veterinary Hospital which is in Wellington, Colorado.
So make sure that along with giving your cat the right food, you also control the portion of your cat’s food and space their meals to make sure your cat is always healthy and active.
And the next time you go to a pet store, you won’t have to stare meaninglessly and feel overwhelmed looking at the different cat foods kept on the shelves. You will know what’s best for your cat.