Picking the Best Wet Cat Food for Picky Eaters

Beautiful tabby cat sitting next to a food plate placed on the wooden floor and eating wet tin food. Selective focus

Key Points

  • Wet cat food keeps your cat's teeth clean and free of tartar and plaque buildup.

  • Wet food is higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates than dry food, making it better for an overweight cat.

  • The texture and tastiness of canned food appeal to many cats more so than dry food.

Even a picky eater comes running when you pop the top of a can of wet cat food. They know what's coming, and they love it. You don't get the same enthusiastic reaction at the sound of dry food hitting the bowl.

Maybe your cat knows something you don't. Reading this article should close that gap.

Understanding your cat's nutritional needs is vital to their health and long life. Cat nutrition requires special attention and carefully selecting foods that match your feline's unique dietary needs. This comprehensive article examines an often-overlooked type of cat food: wet food for finicky felines.

Veterinarian and PetMD writer Dr. Cathy Meeks explains the preparation of canned cat food, saying, "Given the higher moisture content in canned foods, these foods are typically made with fresh or frozen meats in combination with a protein source that comes from grains. The meats are blended with water, fats, and vitamins and placed in a can, where a heating process ensures that food-borne pathogens are destroyed."

Dry food also undergoes high pressures and temperatures but has a shorter shelf life than canned food. With either type, such careful preparation methods give assurance your cat's health is the manufacturers' top priority.

If you're leaning toward feeding your cat wet food, here are some benefits to expect.

Dental Health

No matter what food your cat eats, keep their teeth clean and healthy with a regular dental routine. Brush your cat's teeth at least once or twice a week. Choosing wet cat foods maintains your cat's oral health, which leads to better overall health.

Unlike dry foods that often break apart at the front of the mouth, wet foods require extensive chewing. Chewing cleans your cat's teeth and significantly reduces dental problems like tartar and plaque buildup, conditions often associated with dry foods. This buildup on the teeth isn't the main issue. When it inflames the gums, turning to gingivitis, bacteria can form and enter your cat's bloodstream — a severe problem.

Wet cat food's higher moisture content is critical in preventing oral issues. Dry cat food tends to cause dehydration, which leads to periodontal disease and other dental problems. If your cat refuses to eat anything but their dry food, use a pet fountain to encourage them to drink more water. Most cats love the fresh, moving water of a fountain.

Digestive Health

Good digestive health is a cornerstone of a cat's overall health. Poor digestive health leads to a lack of appetite and weight loss. Wet cat food is more like the natural diet of cats in the wild. Many high-quality canned cat foods are fortified with probiotics. These beneficial bacteria aid digestion, boost immune health, promote healthy bowel movements, and reduce the risk of gastrointestinal issues.

Wet food is easier for cats to swallow and digest. Less digestive effort means less discomfort and more energy for playing and enjoying an active lifestyle. The additional fiber in the food reduces the chance of constipation.

Cat licks lips while waiting for food.

Improved Texture and Taste

You want your cat(s) to eat healthy food, but you also want them to like it. Some cats — like some cat owners — prefer particular food textures and dislike others. Generally, wet cat food has a more appealing texture for cats than dry food. This is particularly useful if you have a finicky feline who fusses over their food.

Wet food just feels better in their mouths. Cats are "pickers," not "crunchers." Your cat picks every morsel of meat from the ham bone, leaving nothing but the bone. Your dog devours the bone along with the attached meat.

Even within the wet food category, there are options. If your cat doesn't care for wet food, try pate instead of chunks. In a TikTok posted on March 30, 2023, a cat owner uses a new food for a cat who typically refuses to eat canned food.

The texture of wet cat food appeals to a cat's palate by enhancing the flavor of the food. The softer, chewier texture allows flavorings and coatings to stick better than in dry foods, resulting in a richer and more satisfying dining experience.

Wet food typically has a more pungent smell. This is something your cat likes, even if you don't. The senses of smell and taste are very closely linked. If it doesn't smell good to a cat, they aren't going to touch it.

Nutrient Absorption

Cats are obligate carnivores and require a high level of animal protein in their diet. This also provides them with the necessary amount of iron in their diet. Wet cat foods often have a nutrient-rich profile high in animal protein. Many are fortified with essential vitamins and minerals and contain beneficial additions like Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

Cats with iron deficient anemia need iron from meat protein sources. If your cat is lethargic and weak, ask your vet if a change in their diet is enough or if they need an iron supplement.

Wet foods have higher absorption rates than dry foods, which increases your cat's nutrient absorption. A cat's body absorbs and utilizes nutrients more effectively from foods that are easier to digest. Chewy foods are an excellent choice, particularly for cats with digestive troubles.

Transitioning to New Diets

A gradual transition is best whenever you change your cat's diet. Switching them over "cold turkey" can upset their stomach and lead to diarrhea or vomiting. Start changing your cat to wet food by introducing small portions of the new food into their diet. Observe their reactions and gradually adjust the proportions until wet food becomes the primary part of the meal.

Some experts recommend retaining some dry food in their diet. While it isn't common, the fact is that not all cats like wet food. Another way to keep your cat's interest at dinnertime is to rotate between different flavors of wet food. After all, no matter how much you absolutely love your partner's meatloaf and mashed potatoes on Monday, you might lose that love if they show up on the dinner table every night at the same time.

Creatures of habit, it's common for cats to resist dietary changes. If your cat is particularly stubborn, consider warming the wet food slightly to enhance its aroma. Another trick is to mix the new food with their favorite treat or wet food to stimulate interest.

There are also treat toppers that you sprinkle on your cat's regular food. These aren't completely nutritional, but supplement your cat's regular meals.

Variety of Flavors and Formulations

In the realm of dry cat food, chicken is the primary flavor. There are other flavors, but not as many as in the canned cat food section. Wet cat foods have various flavors, with popular choices ranging from chicken, duck, and salmon to more unique options like venison or whitefish. Such a spectrum of flavors will satisfy even the most finicky of felines.

Different formulations are available to suit different dietary needs. There are grain-free options, hairball formulas, recipes with added greens or fiber, kitten food, senior formulas, and even health-related foods specifically for cats with sensitive stomachs, urinary issues, or allergies.

Finding the right flavor and formulation for your cat takes trial and error. Consider what flavors your cat typically likes and stay in that general genre.

Weight Management

Indoor cats that don't get a lot of exercise are at risk of gaining weight. Ensuring your cat gets plenty of physical activity is the primary way to control weight, but feeding wet food promotes a healthy weight.

Weight management is essential to overall cat health, and canned cat food aids in that goal. Wet food typically has fewer calories and carbohydrates than dry cat food. Despite this, wet food provides all the necessary nutrients for your cat. The added moisture makes cats feel full, which reduces overeating.

A balanced diet of wet cat food maintains a healthy weight in cats. Combining it with other types of food provides a diverse diet that meets all your cat's nutritional needs.

Chewed Up, But Not Spit Out

A picky cat may seem impossible to please, but when you break out the wet food, they're suddenly eager to eat. It's not all about pleasing the king or queen of the castle, though. Caring for your cat means offering them the best nutrition possible. Wet cat food provides multiple benefits, from dental to digestive health, all while delivering a satisfying meal.

Every cat is different, and what works for one may not work for another. It's always best to consult a veterinarian or a pet nutritionist to determine the best diet for your feline.

For the healthiest wet cat food options on the market and other recommendations for your cat, subscribe to Cattitude Daily.

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