"I mean what is the DEAL with wet cat food?" cartoon by Bobby Mono
Wet vs. Dry
Why is wet cat food beneficial? “In the wild” is a phrase used a lot when we talk about the diets of our pets. It might sound trite, but the furry family we have in our homes hasn't evolved much from their ancestors outdoors.
Cats evolved from Wild African Cats in the desert. Water wasn’t always freely available to them, leading them to develop a much higher tolerance for dehydration than humans. Instead of drinking water, they got the majority of their water from their food (mice are about 70% water)!
Wet food has enough water in it to provide your cat with much of the hydration it needs.
Most dry foods contain a very low percentage of moisture—usually less than 10%—and most have a higher level of carbohydrates than wet food, which can eventually lead to health issues like diabetes, liver failure, renal failure, and contribute to UTI’s and crystal build up in the urethra.
Wet cat food is closer to 70% moisture and typically contains fewer carbohydrates. Cats have no use for carbohydrates or grains in their diet. Their saliva and liver do not break down carbohydrates or grains to use for energy, so they pass through the system as waste.
Historically, cats have been used to guard barns and granaries since they never attempted to eat the grains and, instead, caught the mice that would. Clever kitties.
Wet Cat Food and Taurine
Taurine is an amino acid that cats need to survive, but their bodies do not produce it on their own.
There is more to the explanation for cats chasing mice than just their predator tendencies. Mouse brains are the highest concentrated source of taurine in the world!
Taurine occurs in muscle meat and many organs such as the heart, liver, and kidney. Taurine is added to all cat foods in order to ensure that cats are getting enough of it.
A taurine deficiency is bad news and can lead to all sorts of health problems for cats, such as blindness or tooth decay.
But My Cat Doesn't Like Wet Food!
Cats are very texture based animals when it comes to eating. If they were only introduced to a certain type of food when they were younger, they might not see something like wet food as food at all. Something to note about wet food as well is that there are a few different textures of wet cat food to choose from. Whether your cat likes pate, shredded or minced meat with gravy, a soupy mixture, or something chunky, there is something out there for everyone!
Introducing wet food slowly is a good way to acclimate your cat to the change in their diet.
Try mixing just a little bit on top of their dry food so they are prompted to eat it along with the rest of their meal. Cats eat with their noses first, and sometimes the stinkier the food is to our noses, the more appetizing it is to theirs.
Healthy Cats Are Happy Cats
One out of five cats in the United States is considered obese. One reason for this is the tendency we have to free-feed cats dry food. We leave them a full or mostly full bowl all the time, with the assumption that they will graze throughout the day.
Measuring out dry food or feeding to the guidelines on canned wet food is a great way to cut your cats calorie intake. If your cat whines if their bowl is empty, try adding a bit of wet food on top. Most cats aren’t actually hungry—they’re just dehydrated!
While you increase the wet food you are feeding, be sure to decrease the amount of dry food available. You can even put that dry food in a kibble ball to make them work for their food. Take a look at our article that explains the benefits of kibble balls for cats.
While the initial cost of wet food is higher than feeding an all-dry diet, the overall health of your cat is improved tremendously by even a diet of partial wet food.
Feeding an all-dry diet to a 10-pound cat costs about 50 cents per day (depending on the brand) while wet food can cost anywhere from $1.20 upwards. Usually larger cans cost less per ounce.
To help offset the cost, Pets On Broadway offers a 10% discount on cans when you buy 12 or more.
Some cats only like eating wet food when it’s fresh from the can, and won’t eat cold wet food that comes out of the fridge. In that case, try adding some warm water to the food and mixing it around. The higher cost can definitely seem intimidating, but factoring in all of the health benefits might save you a trip to the vet in the future!
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