Wet Or Dry Cat Food: Which Is Better For Your Cat?

Is there one cat food that is better for your cat? Which do you feed to kitty, wet or dry food? Does your cat have a preference? If your cat receives the appropriate nutrition to keep him/her healthy, then the choice could be either, depending on preference.

How Do You Find The Best Food For Your Cat?

These factors will help determine which food you should be feeding:

1. Your cat's weight 
2. Kitty's overall health and any health conditions he/she may have 
3. What you can afford
Dark tiger cat eating

Factors Determining A Cat’s Interest In Wet Or Dry

The following factors influence your cat’s interest in a specific food, wet or dry:

1) How it smells: Kitty prefers a strong odor 
2) How does it taste to kitty? 
3) Has the cat established a habit of eating wet or dry food?

According to the experts, if the cat is eating the appropriate nutrition to maintain health, there really is no wrong cat food.

What About Shelf Life?

DRY FOOD, OR KIBBLE: A highly processed and shelf-stable food, dry cat food can last for a long time in the original sealed bag, sometimes a year or longer. Look for the “best by” of “use by” date on the bag to determine freshness.

Mixed kibble

Once you open the bag, you are better off using it within about six weeks. Do not transfer the dry food into a plastic container, as the original bag has a special liner designed to maximize food freshness. Fold the top of the bag down all the way. Squeeze as much air out as you can; clip it closed; store in a cool dry place.

WET FOOD: Unopened cans, trays, or pouches of wet cat food are extremely stable, often lasting for several years. Look at the “best by” or “use by” date to make sure the unopened food can still be used.

Once opened, the wet food will become highly perishable. You can leave it out for only a few hours before it spoils. Unused leftovers must be refrigerated. After you’ve opened the food, it only lasts for five to seven days.

Is Dry Food Better For Your Cat’s Teeth?

Many sources will say that dry food is better for your cat’s teeth, as it helps scrape them clean. I tend to side with the sources who say that dry food is no better than wet food for cleaning the cat’s teeth. The kibble can crumble in kitty’s mouth, rather like eating crackers. Not helpful.

dry kibble in bowl

However, Hill’s, Purina, and Royal Canin all make a dry food especially developed to help remove tarter from kitty’s teeth. These foods, which have received the seal of acceptance from the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) can prove helpful.

I use the Hill’s Prescription Diet Feline t/d for Mocha. After his meal, morning and night, he gets four of the feline t/d (which I call his toothbrushes). He gets them one at a time, so he will chew them, rather than just gobble them down whole. Thus far, the teeth look good.

What About Feeding Both Wet And Dry?

If you can’t decide which food would be better, and if kitty doesn’t seem to have a particular preference, why not get the best of both worlds and offer both? You could serve dry food for one meal and wet for the second.

Or, you could do as I do with Mocha — He gets his wet food first. Once he’s finished that, he gets a small serving of dry food. He prefers the kibble, but I want to give him wet food as well, so he gets both. Eventually, he eats everything.

cat looking out window at buffalo

I did consult with my vet to attempt to figure out the best portion of each food to give him. That’s a very helpful way to get some answers. It’s a question you should only have to ask once, unless age or the kitty’s health changes things. A vet’s input is quite helpful.

What About Specific Health Needs?

Your cat’s diet needs to reflect kitty’s lifestyle and nutritional needs. If kitty is a normal weight and healthy, then a maintenance diet for kitten or adult cat should be sufficient. If your cat tends toward obesity, you might look at a low-fat diet.

Dark tiger cat eating grass
Grass helps the digestion

Do not free-feed dry kibble to a cat with a tendency toward obesity. Review with your vet to decide on a safe amount to feed kitty, and don’t let him convince you he needs more before starvation overtakes him.

For a cat with a health condition, you need to check with your vet to determine if a specific diet for this disease exists. These foods offer proper nutrition plus they help alleviate the health condition.

Pros And Cons Of Wet And Dry Food

To help you make your decision, we’ve prepared a list of the pros and cons or both types of food.

Cat stealing meat from table


Low carbohydrate count 
High moisture content
 Enticing scents
 More protein                                                                     
 Long shelf life before opening
 Good flavor
 Good for cats with dental issues or missing teeth 
Formula prepared with balanced diet in mind 


Short shelf life once opened
Open can must be refrigerated
More expensive
Less energy dense


Energy density
Less expensive
No need to refrigerate
Long shelf life
Crunch plus taste


More caloric density; not appropriate for overweight cats
Lower water content
Harder for older cats to eat
Less protein
Cat must find it palatable
May cause cat to become more prone to constipation or urinary tract problem

There you have it! I do hope you find some helpful information here. If you have questions or comments, please leave them below.

References I used for this post:


2 thoughts on “Wet Or Dry Cat Food: Which Is Better For Your Cat?”

  1. My two vary and eat both dry and wet food. My finicky previous feral (now in what we call hospice care) wants ‘people food’. I make soup for her by boiling meat and she loves to lick up the broth. She also likes EXPENSIVE gravy/treats and will eat them all day long, but never gains an ounce. She also wants bites of whatever we have for dinner. Truffie ‘picks’ at the wet food, only offered on the end of a fork, but eats considerably well at her EXPENSIVE dry food. I feel that we should feed our babies the best we can afford, or what they will eat if circumstances prevail.

    • I agree that we should feed the best quality food we can get. Yes, it’s expensive…but they are worth it. Mocha tends to be picky, and he is on urinary tract care food. He would prefer that I just give him dry food, but he gets both…and eventually eats everything.


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