From Wet to Dry: How To Choose the Best Cat Food

Cat food in bowl on a wooden backgrounds.

Key Points

  • Several cat food formulas promote dental health, which is important for overall well-being.

  • Wet cat food promotes hydration because it contains 70-85 percent water.

  • Keeping cat food past its shelf life loses vital nutrients.

Decisions, decisions, decisions. Picking healthy cat food is sometimes stressful. Finding one your finicky feline fancies is frustrating. Choosing the best cat food is crucial for the health and well-being of your feline companion.

With numerous options available, it's challenging to determine which one is most suitable for your cat.

This comprehensive guide provides detailed information on factors such as cost, dental health, hydration, nutritional content, palatability, and storage to help you make an informed decision.

Taste Test

Wet pet food on blue wooden table

Wet or dry? Pâté or gravy? Salmon or chicken? The choices sometimes seem more confusing than convenient. Try them yourself if you want, but it's probably not the best idea.

You may need to offer your cat different choices until you find one they like that also gives them what they need. Be wary. Abruptly changing your cat's food may cause an upset stomach.

Consider these factors when choosing your cat's food.

Cost and Budget

In 2023, the economy isn't the greatest. You don't want money to be a reason to compromise your cat's health, but you also don't want to break the bank.

Setting a Budget for Cat Food

When determining your cat food budget, it's important to consider your cat's dietary needs. Age, activity level, and certain health conditions influence the type and quality of food for your cat.

Consult your veterinarian for help in setting a suitable budget.

Prescription cat food gets expensive, and special food for senior cats isn't the cheapest either. Look ahead to potential needs as well as current ones.

Evaluating Cat Food Brands Based on Cost and Value

Comparing prices of different cat food brands is essential in assessing their cost-effectiveness. Simply focusing on price alone isn't enough. You must also evaluate the quality of ingredients present in the cat food.

Look for brands with a good balance of price and ingredient quality that ensures your cat receives the necessary nutrients.

Dental Health

Cute orange cat lying next to container of toothbrushes

Brushing your cat's teeth is important, but their food also plays a role in their dental health. Sink your teeth into these facts.

Understanding the Importance of Dental Health for Cats

Cats' dental health is crucial for their well-being. Dental issues sometimes lead to pain, discomfort, and even systemic infections. Regular dental care helps prevent these problems. Dental health affects various aspects of their life, including eating, social interactions, and behavior.

Analyzing Cat Food Options That Promote Dental Health

Several cat food formulas promote dental health. These foods often contain kibble with unique shapes and textures that remove plaque and tartar buildup as cats chew. Look for products labeled as "dental care" or with the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal.

Dry cat food plays a role in reducing dental problems because the kibble's texture aids in cleaning the teeth.


Cats like fresh water. If they don't get enough hydration from their food, consider using a pet fountain.

Dry food contains very little moisture, so encourage your cat to drink more water or offer canned food.

Significance of Proper Hydration for Cats

Proper hydration is critical for your cat's health. Cats have a low thirst drive, and inadequate hydration causes urinary tract problems, kidney issues, and other health complications.

Cat Food Options That Ensure Adequate Hydration

Wet (canned) cat food contains more moisture than dry food. This higher water content increases your cat's overall fluid intake for better hydration.

Bond Vet has locations all around New England and Chicago. In a 2022 article, their experts discuss the differences between wet and dry food for cats.

"The main difference between them is the moisture content," they say, "or the proportional amount of water in the food. Dry cat food contains an average of 6-10% water, while wet cat food may contain 70-85% water."

They say there's no "right" answer to which one is better. Every cat has individual needs and considerations.

Including wet cat food in your cat's diet is an effective way to be sure they stay adequately hydrated. Incorporating water-rich ingredients such as broths and gravies, or adding water to dry food, increases water consumption.

Nutritional Content

wet and dry cat food with fresh ingredients in background

Always read the ingredient list on the back of the cat food bag. If you aren't familiar with some of the ingredients, ask your vet.

Understanding the Importance of Balanced Nutrition for Cats

Proper nutrition is vital for cats' growth, development, and overall health. Cats require essential nutrients such as protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals in the right proportions.

A balanced diet is essential for healthy organ function, a strong immune system, and optimal energy levels.

Assessing Cat Food Brands for Proper Nutritional Content

When evaluating cat food options, carefully examine the labels and ingredient lists. Look for high-quality sources of animal-based protein, as cats are carnivores and require meat-based proteins.

Avoid cat foods with excessive fillers, artificial preservatives, and low-quality ingredients. Look for cat food brands that have undergone feeding trials or meet guidelines set by reputable organizations such as the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

Palatability and Texture

top view of two cats eating wet and dry pet food from ceramic feeding dish

When a cat reaches their senior years, palatability may become an issue. A specially formulated senior cat food addresses this issue.

Some cats may have particular needs to consider to ensure they receive the healthiest option.

Recognizing the Significance of Palatability for Cats

Cats are sometimes selective eaters, and their food preferences play a major role in their satisfaction.

"Palatability" is a big word that simply refers to how appealing a specific food is to a cat's senses, including taste, smell, and texture. Ensuring your cat enjoys their food encourages a healthy appetite and prevents feeding difficulties.

Evaluating Cat Food Brands Based on Palatability and Texture

Consumer reviews and expert recommendations are valuable resources when considering cat food brands. Look for brands that consistently receive positive reviews for their palatability and high acceptance rates among cats.

On June 27, 2023, NBC published their "Select Pet Awards 2023," including best pet food, bowl, dispenser, treats, and treat bag. Check out their experts' recommendations.

No matter what the experts say, you and your cat — probably mostly your cat — make the final decision. Consider your cat's preferences regarding texture. Do they prefer pâté, chunks, or gravies?

Offering a variety of textures caters to your cat's unique tastes.

Storage and Shelf Life

Consider how much and how often your cat eats to avoid keeping food around longer than necessary.

Considering Cat Food's Storage Requirements and Shelf Life

Proper storage maintains the freshness and nutritional quality of cat food. Exposure to air, light, heat, and humidity leads to spoilage and the loss of vital nutrients.

Understanding the shelf life of cat food ensures your cat receives fresh and safe nourishment.

Assessing Cat Food Brands Based on Packaging and Shelf Life

Cat food is typically available in various packaging formats, including cans, pouches, and resealable bags. Secure packaging keeps the food protected from environmental factors.

Check the expiration dates and consider the shelf life of the cat food, especially if you plan on purchasing larger quantities. Grain-free cat foods have a shorter shelf life, so consider your pet's special needs and diet.

Wet or Dry?

The information isn't watered down, and the answer isn't cut-and-dried. It's a personal choice. Above all, your cat's health is the most important consideration.

Choosing the best cat food requires careful consideration of factors such as cost, dental health, hydration, nutritional content, palatability, and storage. Take the time to evaluate these aspects and consider your cat's specific needs.

Always consult your veterinarian for personalized advice and guidelines when selecting the most suitable cat food for your feline companion. It may take a little trial and error, but your cat lets you know what they prefer — so you're better off listening to them.

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